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A few days ago, I heard a track called “Mr. Rock & Roll” by a Scottish female vocalist named Amy Macdonald.  I enjoyed it and think her acoustic folk-pop sound is worth a listen; it’s somewhat reminiscent of KT Tunstall and the multitudes of other girls with dark hair and bangs who have been playing indie music on guitar of late.

Amy’s songwriting is nothing earth-shatteringly innovative, but she has no average voice, and as a self-taught musician, she’s not bad at all.  NPR Weekend Edition tells me that her popularity has been growing in the UK for a while and is just starting to make its way over to the US.

If you heard about Amy Macdonald ages ago, feel free to inform me that I am totally behind the times on what young people are listening to nowadays.   I’d also be interested to hear your opinion on whether Amy’s style is refreshing or unremarkable.  You can listen to more full tracks by Amy Macdonald on last.fm.

One more reason to love Last.fm: selected free (legal) MP3s.  Music artists can choose to have select tracks available for free download by users; users can browse through them by genre tags and download at will.

Today's tag cloud of downloads.

Tag cloud of today's downloads.

It’s a great method for new bands to expand their listening base (I’ll be blogging about Racetrack and The Dellas, both of which I discovered on last.fm), but established artists do it as well to promote certain tracks (today I see Nine Inch Nails, Sufjan Stevens, and Broken Social Scene, among others).

It all just goes to prove to the RIAA that the recording industry can succeed with a new business model that involves artists sharing some of their music freely on the Internet, rather than suing the pants off fans who just want to listen to their favorite bands.  That’s my take; how about yours?

One of the neat things about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is the music scene here.  My friend Davin, whom I met at Cal, is in a band called Fox Culture.  They call themselves a mix of indie, alternative, and baroque pop; their sound is mellow and introspective.  Fox Culture is the kind of indie band that often does duets between one male and female singer.  They sound kind of like Broken Social Scene and the Arcade Fire.

Fox Culture after a gig at Santana Row in San Jose, CA.

Fox Culture after a gig at Santana Row in San Jose, CA.

“Oh yeah- ol’ school organ to set the stage; nice. Nice how you follow each other around vocally and musically. Like lovers chasing each other around town.”

Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addiction, Satellite Party, founder of Lollapalooza)

I used one of Fox Culture’s songs, “Phony”, in a video commerical I created at my internship this summer.  The video basically demonstrates my company’s new product, ChunkIt!, which allows users to find information on the Internet more easily.  I used Camtasia Studio to create a video demonstrating ChunkIt!’s applications to Last.fm, one of my favorite music websites.

Fox Culture recently entered and won a contest to be featured on an album from one of UC Berkeley’s largest student festivals, Caltopia Live 2008.  The album can be downloaded for free on iTunes and features 14 tracks from bands at UC Berkeley.  I just downloaded it, and will let you know which local artists I think are worth a listen.

“Gotta say, this isn’t a sound I usually gravitate toward, but there’s something about your music that gets under my skin–in a good way. Maybe it’s the subtle, off-kilter songcraft or the double vocals and hypnotic finger plucking, or the noise guitar at the end of Fireman. Your heart is really in this and it shows–and I don’t say that about of a lot of what I hear on this site. Lots of luck!”

Doug Brod (editor of SPIN Magazine)

If you liked the sound of “Phony” from my ChunkIt! Last.fm video, you can check out more Fox Culture songs on their MySpace page.

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