Taking a bite out of Apple?

eMusic makes a bid for your attention
By MATT ASHARE  |  July 5, 2006

Art Brut
Thanks to the popularity of the iPod as an mp3 listening device, iTunes has had a clear advantage coming out of the gate in MP3 sales. But there’s competition out there, and eMusic is making some major waves as an alternative. You even get 25 free downloads just for signing up. And the on-line store has an impressive backlog of exclusive “live albums” for sale. Here’s a taste.

Art Brut, “Bang Bang Rock & Roll” live (download via eMusic)
Culled from a set at Schubas in Chicago last November 15, this raucous version of the snotty title track to Art Brut’s debut album is one of a dozen tracks on this eMusicLive exclusive. It begins with a mumbled “Are you ready blah, blah, blah” from Eddie Argos, ends with some equally indecipherable Johnny Rottenesque ranting, and gives you a good sense of what made so many musos label a club-playing Art Brut the next big thing a full six months before they had an album out here in the US.

Gogol Bordello, “Immigrant Punk” live (download via eMusic)
More indecipherable ranting here, as the fiddler bows away ominously and some bass rumbles in the background, like the buzzing crowd just waiting for something to happen. It finally does when Eugene Hütz starts repeating the title, some scratchy guitar makes an entrance, and one of the stranger outfits ever to don the punk mantle gets rolling in its “gypsy-punk” statement of purpose. It’s not quite anthemic, discordant, or aggro. But when Hütz yells “party” and the band break into a polka groove, it’s evident that Gogol Bordello, captured here at Maxwell’s on April 25, 2004, have created the best perversion of punk rock since Todd A’s Firewater.

Southern Culture on the Skids, “Too Much Pork for Just One Fork” live
White-trashed punkabilly can get old in the confines of the studio, especially when you open a can of kitsch as big as Southern Culture on the Skids. Yeah, so they’re sort of a one-trick pony. But live they prove they can play this stuff with fire and brimstone, a genuine sense of groove, and salacious tongue entirely in cheek. This is from a set at Maxwell’s on June 28, 2004.

Crooked Fingers, “New Drink for the Old Drunk” live
After former Archers of Loaf frontman Eric Bachmann explains that it’s been a while since he’s played this gem from his Crooked Fingers debut, he finds his voice and doesn’t miss a note in his performance of the spare, bittersweet anti-anthem at the Casbah in San Diego on November 5, 2004. Either the club is empty or the audience is so rapt that you really can hear a pin drop in the spaces between verses. But when he finishes the tune with an abrupt “I don’t have an ending,” the roar of approval is quite audible.

Related: Listen up, Bands of Gypsy, Brighton beach party, More more >
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