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September 30, 2006|CASEY DOLAN

Surfing the Web for new music, video and MP3 downloads can be a serious time investment. Picks from Times staff and contributors will help take the drag out of click-and-drag music choices. Some downloads may contain explicit lyrics. All are free, except as noted.

-- CASEY DOLAN

"Before He Cheats"

Carrie Underwood

music.aol.com/archive/main

Revenge videos are all the rage these days. They usually involve some low-down skunk of a man caught in the clutches of some floozy by his principal squeeze. Brassy country singer Underwood follows the script but throws in some enthusiastic truck remodeling for good measure. The lyrics are particularly hilarious as she slams the interloper ("a beach blond tramp" who would be "singing some white trash version of Shania karaoke"), her low vocal range adding impact. The demolition squad has a party in the video's final moments.

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"Star-Spangled Banner" at Wrigley Field

Jake Shimabukuro

www.jakeshimabukuro.com/videos.php

Shimabukuro made his name with a video version of a ukulele performance of George Harrison's ""While My Guitar Gently Weeps." It received more than 100,000 hits on youtube.com. The song was an appropriate choice since Harrison was a great fan of the instrument and regularly gave them as presents. There is no question that Shimabukuro is a master of the instrument and we see him here doing the national anthem, adding creative reharmonizations to an old raincoat of a tune, aided by a steel drum player from Jimmy Buffett's band.

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"Sleep and Dream"

Battle of Mice

www.battleofmice.com/03sleepanddream_mastered.mp3

This is music designed to scar, with nightmarish lyrics of a tortured chained-up dog as a projection of ourselves. "They will never quite cut through/Because he's got a little piece of you," intones Julie Christmas, a woman who takes the art of screaming to new levels. "Sleep and Dream" is, unbelievably, one of the tamer songs on an album of massive orchestral textures. Imagine My Bloody Valentine fronted by a criminally insane woman. Battle of Mice's website indicates no tour is now planned. No surprise. It would probably be impossible for vocal cords to sustain this type of punishment for an entire tour.

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"House Fire"

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

www.morawk.com/boris/broom/house.mp3

The low-budget production will either create an intimate experience for the listener or a frustrating one, imagining what could be done with such a lovely tune of loss and whimsy ("I still find you dashing"). This is some of the sweetest and most disarming pop music you will likely hear this or any year. SSLYBY (as it's known to fans) is "the third best band on Weller Street in Springfield, Missouri," according to the group's website. This track from its debut, "Broom," is indicative of the rest of the album, speaking softly and carrying a big stick.

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casey.dolan@latimes.com

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