last.fm has recently become Amazing, with a vast increase in the number of fully-streamable tracks and free downloads, and new deals meaning there are at least 30-second previews for nearly every artist. I have gone on a vast music-obsessing spree over the past week, and now think I'm ready to recommend it to the world ;)
Currently rocking my socks are:
All:My:Faults - Combining EBM/synthpop/industrial and darkwave, depending on which song you listen to :) My favourite I think is Sand of Time - but they're all well worth checking out.
Android Lust - described by the artist as "electronic and dark", I guess I'd agree. Dragonfly comes highly recommended in the electronica category, and Stained is somewhat darker and more chillouty. I think they're great anyway :D
Also found via last.fm, through a comment on their artist page, are some unreleased tracks by bôa which are available on a band member's website. bôa are most well-known for that Duvet track from the Serial Experiments: Lain anime, but this collection is awesome funk tracks. Before finding this link I didn't know anything about bôa except for Duvet, so I don't know if the information I'm getting from the OP is true.. but here's their comment. "It has several unreleased bôa songs, including some sung by Steve Rodgers! It shows a lot of their early funk style."
Flёur are a Ukrainean duo who do gorgeous, gorgeous ethereal, melodic vocals accompanied by a guitar and a piano. The whole of the album Everything Is Out of Control is available for download. Unfortunately a lot of files either seem to be corrupt, or downloaded badly for me - tracks 2-9 for example - and so are just very faint except for the loud bursts of static. Silkworm also seems to get cut off rather abruptly.. however, you can always use the in-page player to stream directly from last.fm :)
The next recommendation is actually a compilation album, Best Of Ahx Vol.1: Dexter's Pinkboratory, which I found by accident. I downloaded a track from last.fm that I thought was by P!nk (I quite like to listen to her occasionally) but was pleased to find that it was actually an excellent piece of electronica by computer game composer Manfred 'Pink' Linzner! The album has work by him, Geir Tjelta and D'Aizl (I haven't linked to him because his link probably won't work with the apostrophe in). The album link I gave at the start of this paragraph will give you lots of nice background info as well as some handy download links. Enjoy!
I found out about Isa and the Filthy Tongues from a friend, who mentioned them as being a possibility for the next live band night my university's music society will be putting on. Arrogant chick-rock in the style of PJ Harvey and the like, I thought I would hate it, and was pleased and surprised to find myself hooked from the first listening. Their last.fm page sadly only has streamable 30-second previews (although quite a lot of them!), but a brief search on the interweb brought up CDBaby which has 2-minute streamable previews. I totally can't wait to see them!
Machinae Supremacy would be pretty standard rock/metal, except for the awesome twist of Commodore 64 synthesized bleeping in the background. I'm not as OMFGSQUEE as I am over say All:My:Faults or Android Lust, but they are certainly worth looking into. By far the best is Death From Above which everyone should listen to; other tracks such as Attack Music are more general metal, and Flagcarrier is for those of you liking melodic anthems..
I got into Milla Jovovich ages ago (some may remember my enthusing over Clock) and while last.fm only has one streamable 30-sec preview of Don't Fade Away, her website has lots of free demos. She's mostly sort of girly-folk-with-a-guitar and had only a couple of inspiring tracks - Clock, The Gentleman Who Fell (especially as she wrote them at 19!) - but she's definitely grown on me. I thoroughly recommend searching out Mezinka from the film Dummy if you can though, for a truly stonking Yiddish knees-up :D
Slowdive were recommended to me by Jon in reply to my recommendation of All:My:Faults last week but I've only just got round to listening to them. Tags such as "ambient" and "dream pop" are used to describe them (as well as "shoegaze" whatever-the-f that means) and erm, I guess they at least conjure up the right image. Think Cocteau Twins. Recommended album: Souvlaki. While last.fm only has a few 30-second previews, I'm reliably informed that there are videos on YouTube, and I'm sure Jon wouldn't mind lending his CD's.
Other artists of note:
Laurie Anderson is finally streamable, though only with 30-second previews. Experimental, captivating, bizarre, wonderful. Listen to them and then know you have to get hold of the full tracks NOW.
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions are also now streamable. Rattlesnakes and Perfect Skin are a must-listen!
Neon Zoo - excellent dark dance with gorgeously seductive vocals, I will definitely be trying to play this at a future Cyberia! The whole of the Heaven Sin album is streamable, with four free downloads.
theNoLifeKing - enigmatically labelled as 'gloom', I don't really know how to describe them, but I like the two tracks I have well enough - Genesis Diabolica and The Seventh Circle - so if you think you like music that could be considered "gloom", have a listen. The Seventh Circle has some nice whale-noise-in-water effects to match the 'cello..