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January 06, 2007|CASEY DOLAN

Surfing the Web for new music, video and MP3 downloads can be a serious time investment. Tips 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.

"Window in the Skies"


U2 uses the video convention of a montage to commemorate its musical heroes. Nearly all are easily recognizable, from Frank Zappa to Frank Sinatra, and deft editing gives the illusion of the singers and players performing the U2 song itself. Fitting neatly into the pantheon of U2 idealism, the song and video are testaments to the unifying force of great music. A clip of Sinatra provides the perfect closing moment.


The A'z

www.hyphyhitz.comHyphy, hip-hop's minimalist branch from the Bay Area, sometimes sounds like a soundtrack for a world drained of tonal color; there are few token nods to melodic or harmonic content. It's really all about the beats and the words and not much else. But in the case of this new release by the A'z (named after the Oakland Athletics and the fact that all three members are named Alex), the idiosyncratic vocals, punctuated by the hyphy lingo (the title means "You know what I'm sayin'?"), are so understated that they almost resemble whispers. Those vocals are precisely what propel the track and the video, keeping it interesting by virtue of its sheer exoticism.


Charlotte Hatherley

Hatherley, the former guitarist- vocalist of Ash, stars as a gremmie space commando pilot who wants badly to serve her stern and distant commanding officer, Maj. Tom, looking (no surprise here) like David Bowie in his "Low" period. She wants to behave but finds that difficult. It's an endearing, mischievous animated video with one hilariously over-the-top moment that viewers can discover for themselves. Hatherley creates an obsessive yet goofy identity, aided by director Oscar Wright and by her expertly warbled guitar (sounds like an old Roland chorus/echo on the fritz!). She's certainly a Brit-pop guitarist of note, as demonstrated by the inspired guitar break.

"Golden Stair"

The Goslings

Imagine an enormous PA system with every speaker cone ripped to shreds. Then imagine a band playing at such a volume that the music becomes a great morass of white noise emanating from that eviscerated sound system. The tempo is equivalent to giant ogres afflicted with crippling arthritis moving through a humid, dense tropical forest. Smatterings of tonality are barely heard by a heavily processed vocal. Oh, the pain, the pain! Is Gibby Haynes lurking in the wings with his bullhorn at the ready? Who are these people? This is magnificent music for the nihilists within us.

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