The tracks for the May 2010 sampler are no longer available.
 Please visit the latest sampler for more tracks!

Every month, Utne Reader presents free, downloadable music gleaned from current and upcoming releases on independent labels, curated by senior editor Keith Goetzman.

Cape Verde is often associated with the elegantly sad songs of Cesaria Evora, but the island nation’s music is much broader and not always so despair-drenched. The two-CD set Cabo Verde Instrumental (Lusafrica) traverses this rich territory on tunes such as this one from string wizard Rufino Almeida, a.k.a. Bau—a composition that can also be found on the excellent new Lusafrica compilation of his work, Café Musique.
Track: “Top D’Coroa” by Bau

Dr DogDr. Dog
Dr. Dog exists smartly outside of time and trends, inviting the best elements of classic rock, folk, and soul into the indie realm on their new Shame, Shame (Anti). Are they hard to peg or just easy to like?
Track: “Stranger” by Dr. Dog 

Cook CoverElizabeth Cook
Never mind snakes on a plane—there’s a snake in the bed on this eyebrow-raising song from Elizabeth Cook’s Welder, which comes out May 11 on 31 Tigers. Cook is a sharp-eyed observer of life in all its pained, amusing glory in songs that range from country to alt-rock.
Track: “Snake in the Bed” by Elizabeth Cook 

Josh Ritter coverJosh Ritter
Ritter parses every word in his imagery-packed songs—the album art on his new So Runs the World Away (Pytheas) even shows him at his writing desk, poised to turn his next artful phrase. The album is a folk-pop opus that finds him reaching sonically and linguistically. He is on tour now.
Track: “Change of Time” by Josh Ritter 

SowetoJ.K. Mayengar and the Shingwedzi Sisters
When the mind-blowing music of Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, and Booker T and the MGs swept through South Africa, the result was a wave of experimentation fusing traditional and far-out sounds. The incredible compilation Next Stop … Soweto: Volume 2, which comes out May 11 on Strut, captures this burst of funky, freaky energy.
Track: “Khubani” by J.K. Mayengar and the Shingwedzi Sisters 

JuradoDamien Jurado
Damien Jurado has given us more than a decade of glimmering folk-rock music, capturing listeners with honesty-drenched vocals, exquisite guitar playing, and a profound talent for storytelling. For his new Saint Bartlett, which comes out May 25 on Dead Oceans, he teamed up with Secretly Canadian labelmate Richard Swift, and the result is superb.
Track: “Arkansas” by Damien Jurado 

Shout Out LoudsShout Out Louds
The Shout Out Louds have a predilection for delectable pop songs. Here the Swedish DJ duo Fontän neatly crystallizes the tastiest elements of “Walls” from the band’s recent album Work on the Merge label. The Shout Out Louds are on tour now.
Track: “Walls (Fontän Remix)” by Shout Out Louds