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lizb on 12/22/2014 at 12:15PM

Liz B's Top FMA Picks for 2014

It's been another stellar year for music here at the FMA, and as usual, I found it mighty difficult to narrow down my favorite songs into a digestible list. Every week, I dive in to the FMA's new additions and pull my favorite selections to play on my radio show on WFMU and podcast. Though it's impossible for any human to listen to every single new song added to this online treasure trove, I certainly do my best to take in a hearty sampling.

In keeping with tradition, I present two lists of my top picks for the year: a short list of 15 tracks for those who want a taste, followed by a big-ass mega-mix of 99 songs if you're hungry for more.


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lizb on 09/08/2014 at 03:45PM

Radio Free Culture Podcast Returns

WFMU and the Free Music Archive are proud to present a new season of Radio Free Culture, a weekly podcast exploring issues at the intersection of digital culture and the arts. Our season opener is a two-part interview with FMA pal Elliot Harmon, Communications Manager at Creative Commons. We couldn't have imagined a better way to bring back Radio Free Culture than to take a look at the current state of affairs at our favorite alternative licensing operation.

Check out the first episode here, or subscribe to the podcast here (via iTunes).

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lizb on 04/16/2014 at 09:45AM

Free Music Archive Receives NEA Arts in Media Grant to Support "Re:Invent:Media"

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa announced today that WFMU's Free Music Archive is one of 886 non-profit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Arts in Media grant. The FMA is recommended for a $75,000 grant to support the Re:Invent:Media Project.

Re:Invent:Media is a four-part project that will broaden access to the FMA’s rich and diverse audio library, strengthen public understanding of music in the contemporary digital setting, and foster creativity through hands-on engagement with the arts:

  1. Re:imagine will be our second series of themed multimedia contests and workshops to encourage hands-on engagement through the creation of new works inspired by Creative Commons and the public domain.

  2. An Education Portal and instructional webinars will be developed on the FMA to help educators, audio producers, podcasters, filmmakers, and others navigate the complex rights issues associated with using and appropriating music in new creative projects.

  3. Radio Free Culture is a weekly radio segment/podcast that will explore the changing landscape of music, the arts, and digital technology, as well as celebrate the transformative potential of the digital era.

  4. Mobile Apps will be developed for both iOS and Android platforms, providing mobile and tablet users with full access to the audio works available on the FMA, as well as artist information and music discovery features.

We are honored to be recommended for the NEA's Arts in Media award for the second time, and it's a great way to commemorate the Free Music Archive's 5th anniversary this month. The Re:Invent:Media project will allow us to expand access to the FMA's 70,000+ songs, to cultivate the creation of new multimedia digital arts projects, and to provide better educational resources for navigating rights issues online.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Arts in Media grant support, please visit the NEA website at Here's NEA's official announcement as well as our own press release if you'd like to help spread the word. 

Perhaps a birthday celebration is in order here at the FMA? Take a listen to our winning entry from last year's NEA-funded contest to create new, alternatively-licensed Happy Birthday songs.

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lizb on 12/26/2012 at 08:00AM

Liz B's Top FMA Picks of 2012

WFMU fans at the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona, 2012

I've been a silent lurker on the FMA this year, but did want to pipe up to share my top picks of 2012 with you all. Like an addict, I hit the new release stack on the site with frightening regularity, the spoils of which I share on my weekly radio show on WFMU and its corresponding podcast.

I skimmed the tastiest bits from the top of my FMA pile, resulting in what is still kind of a huge pile. Therefore, yet again, this year I've got two year-end mixes to share: a short attention span mix (below), and a more complete mix (53 tracks) after the jump. Enjoy!

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lizb on 12/17/2011 at 11:00AM

Liz B's Top FMA Picks for 2011

Photo CC by-nc, ABC Archives

Last year I had a tough time narrowing down my year-end picks, and now as 2011 comes to a close, I find myself in a similar predicament. I dig through the FMA every week and discover so many gems to share on my podcast and radio show that it is nearly impossible for me to narrow down my list and deliver a "top 10."

My solution to this problem: screw it!

I made two mixes of my top picks of 2011, a short list for the ADD generation (below) and a longer, more complete list for extended play (after the jump). Hope you dig 'em both, and can't wait for more incredible FMA discoveries in 2012!

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lizb on 01/15/2011 at 12:00PM

VLADRM stands for...

Viva L'american Death Ray Music sprung out of Memphis in the late '90s: originally Nicholas Ray and Jeff Bouck of 68 Comeback, along with Harlan T. Bobo, who played in the Limes with Nicholas. Although the lineup has fluctuated over the years due to members' geographical separations, other musical distractions, etc, VLADRM's sound is still capable of restoring your faith in rock and roll.

From glam to garage, dub to dark experimentalism, VLADRM will appeal to fans of the Fall and Roxy Music in all the best ways. The band swung by to play an awesome live set on my radio show in late November, in celebration of the release of their new record "Miles of Smiles, Towns of Frowns" on Mexican Summer.

In its current incarnation, the band's lineup includes Nicholas (ex-Golden Triangle, One Year Band, Other Crimes, the Limes) on guitar and vox, Jeff (Polyphonic Spree, Cause For Applause) on drums, and new member Kunal (Maury & Moosh Moosh) on what the band calls "gui-bass."

Take a listen to a few of my favorite songs from their set below.

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memphis, vladrm
lizb on 12/16/2010 at 03:15PM

Liz Berg's Top Picks of 2010

Overwhelmed by the glut of fantastic tunes I heard this year on the FMA, choosing my top picks from my huge list of favorites turned into quite a frenzy.

Like a crazed shopaholic, I fanatically threw more and more great songs into my shopping cart, and what was supposed to be a Top 10 list quickly grew into a Top 22 list. No buyer's remorse here! Hope you enjoy the mix, and happy 2011!

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lizb on 11/11/2010 at 07:00AM

Bedroom jams by Henry Hynes

With all the High School Musical, Glee, talent reality shows, and packaged poplets saturating the mainstream media, it almost becomes unfathomable to imagine a teenager creating sophisticated experimental yet melodic compositions these days. Thankfully, Henry Hynes exists.

Not only does this 16-year-old kid play drums in the great NJ band Home Blitz, but he writes great songs, and also volunteers for the FMA from time to time.

Henry recently released a great CD called "The Portal" (Cryptic Carousel), full of home recordings from 2006-2010, and it's been getting a lot of play on WFMU lately. You can check out a sampling of songs from the album here on the FMA. The tunes veer from lo-fi pop to dreamy experimental ramblings and concrete departures, all catchy in a strange otherworldly way.

If you dig Henry's music, I hear he's looking to release some on vinyl...

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new jersey
lizb on 11/04/2010 at 12:30PM

Dustin Wong flutters across the fretboard

Photo by Mehan (CC by-nc-nd)

Jitters, beauty, and blissed out guitar loop magic all converged on my radio program this week, when Baltimore musician Dustin Wong stopped by for a live set.

Scenes from Dustin's illustrious past include playing guitar in two of my favorite bands of recent years: high-energy spazzers Ponytail and intricate dualing guitar melodists Ecstatic Sunshine. That's one hell of a resume! Amazingly, Dustin's new solo material is equally fantastic as his work in other projects, and it even takes his talent in a new and exciting direction.

Dustin Wong's lovely new album of looped guitar orchestrations is called "Infinite Love: A Square Defining A Circle" (Thrill Jockey); it's a variety pack of sorts guaranteed to earn brownie points with any date, featuring two LPs/CDs entitled "Brother" and "Sister" (which start out the same, but then diverge), plus a DVD.

His performance on my radio show (excerpt below) mirrors the style on "Infinite Love." Layers are added to a simple theme and gradually, pauses are filled with playful harmonies, building a complex and beautiful piece that effortlessly transitions into the next idea. When Dustin performs live, you can almost see a miniature symphony of phantom guitars playing along above his shoulders.

Be sure to catch Dustin live in a city near you -- he's on tour with Avocado Happy Hour and Holy Ghost Party (both of Baltimore), playing everywhere from Vermont to California, and then coming back to the East coast again at the end of November. Tour dates/venues here. Also be sure to check out Dustin's bilingual (English/Japanese) blog. Baltimore music fetishists and those interested in the city's latest "soft music" scene, should swing by Bmore Musically Informed for tons of songs/photos/videos.

The archive of Dustin's full live set on WFMU is available as streaming audio here, along with a short interview.

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lizb on 09/23/2010 at 12:00PM

First Class Dada Rock: Asian Women on the Telephone

Fans of noise rock, experimental ruminations, epic weirdo jams, or Brooklyn's Oneida should check out the great Russian band Asian Women on the Telephone.

I've posted a few of my favorite AWOTT songs below, but to really do the band justice, you must check out their youtube videos. When the band performs live, they dress up like overgrown mutant arthropods.

Fire up your browser's Russian-to-English translator and get in on AWOTT's other web activity: podcast | blog. Band member Nikita runs a blog/distro, and possibly other great and mysterious operations from his home base in Moscow.

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russia, noise rock, moscow
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