Each month the Amazon MP3 Store will put 100 albums on sale for $5 a piece for the entire month. Amazingly each month there are tons of great albums to choose from, from both mainstream artists and lesser known indie groups. There’s a lot of great deals each month and for most people it’s hard to know which albums to go with. So I have decided to give you my top 5 choices out of the bunch each month. (I decided to disqualify Greatest Hits albums from making the list.) I obviously haven’t heard every single album on sale here, so if there is another album you would like to recommend please share it in the comments. Hope you enjoy some new cheap music.
This is the debut album from The Shins, the band made famous by Zach Braff and Natalie Portman in the soundtrack of ’04 indie cult film, Garden State. If you’ve only heard the two songs from this album that were included on the Garden State OST, then you are missing out.
This is the indie-electronica outfit’s 5th studio album, but the first record of theirs that really hooked me and made me a fan. I think this is an absolutely perfect album for an autumn drive. So get it while it’s cheap here in the Spring and you’ll thank me come October.
Radiohead – OK Computer
Many people consider this the greatest album of the 90′s. Depending on the day, this is my favorite Radiohead album. I am pretty partial to The Bends, as it was the first album of theirs that I fell in love with. But it is hard to ignore the brilliance of this record. If you don’t own it, you need to snatch up this deal right away.
There are a lot of albums that have come out over the past couple of years that were labelled as surf-rock and among those albums, I thought that the debut from Best Coast was by far the best. They are kind of like a garage band version of the Beach Boys without the harmonies and a female vocalist. I am a fan and think you should be too.
I’m pretty surre I’ve heard the argument made that every album, first through eleventy-billionth, is a band’s most important effort. Essentially, if you put out a horrible album, it can kill your career. When you get to sixth, the pool for comparison thins, and (under certain circumstances) it becomes a success in and of itself. This is where we are with Spoon and their newest, Transference.
Now, as I thought of other bands with six or more albums, my mind was of course drawn to Radiohead and analogies ran wild (hence the title). In a very rough way, Spoon is in the same place Radiohead was in with the release of Hail to the Thief (bear with me). The major difference being, Spoon’s last two albums have been their most accessible, while Radiohead’s 4th and 5th efforts were almost intentionally alienating. Spoon has picked up a lot of steam since “Gimme Fiction,” including multiple songs being featured on NBC’s “Chuck.” Accordingly, the boys were faced with a crossroad. A larger audience means more expectations. A good band shakes them with style. Radiohead (again same place, different circumstances) let loose and made the least accessible of their records with Hail to the Thief. Spoon, on the other hand, has taken a much more gradual step. (And no, I don’t think Spoon is better than Radiohead. Pshhh.)
On first listen, I was a little disappointed. I kept waiting for the radio-esque single and killer hook along the lines of “Don’t You Evah” or “I Summon You,” but it never really came. I was guilty of wanting another Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, but I got something different, a little more cohesive and a little darker. And while I think there is a stronger glue holding Transference together than previous albums, the same cohesion has made it less memorable. By no means is Transference a flop. It has its own staying power, but it isn’t a catchy staying power.
Spoon’s bread and butter lies in not trying too hard, and they haven’t fled camp. The Spoon of old is recognizable, just with a few new tricks. They’ve been evolving over time, think “The Ghost of You Lingers,” and in due course Transference contains just a few more “Ghost”-like tracks. There is some synth-percussion on “Who Makes Your Money,” strange vocal delays on “Is Love Forever?,” and mid-song “I Saw the Light” completely changes directions, but for the most part it works.
Considering where Spoon is in their career, Transference makes sense. If they don’t start broadening out, all of their quirks will become predictably unpredictable. The same thing that has made Spoon so likable (simple, low-fi pop), is also their handcuff. There is only so much you can do with a buzzy guitar, drum, and an old upright piano. I see Transference as being a sort of stepping stone. A stepping stone with substance. Not my favorite album of the young year, but one I’m glad to have in my library.
You can also check out a listen of the new album at NPR.
Merge Records has announced the release of Spoon’s follow-up to the infectious Ga Ga Ga Ga. Transference, the band’s 7th full-length album, was produced by the band itself and is scheduled to hit stores in the U.S. on January 18th.
The album will be preceded by a vinyl 7″ release of the first single, “Written in Reverse.” It will be available for purchase on January 5th and will include an exclusive B-side, “Mean Red Spider”, which won’t be available digitally.
Bob Boilen, the host of NPR’s All Songs Considered, had the opportunity to hear half of the album in the car of one of his publicist friends. He had nothing but good things to say about the record. “Lots of people can play a poignant guitar part, but the next part of the art is mixing it at the right volume, placing it in the best position in the stereo field to serve the song, and putting just the right effect on it to either blend well with the song or act as counterpoint. That care and craft is what I was hearing in Transference.”
This past summer Spoon released a 3-track EP called Got Nuffin that is worth checkin’ out. The title track of which will also be found on the new record. After a few more U.S. dates in early December, they will head over to the UK in early February to begin touring in support of the new album. Here is the tracklist as well as a few live versions of some songs that will be found on Transference.
01. Before Destruction
02. I Love Forever?
03. The Mystery Zone
04. Who Makes Your Money?
05. Written in Reverse
06. I Saw the Light
07. Trouble Comes Running
08. Goodnight Laura
09. Out Go the Lights
10. Got Nuffin
11. Nobody Gets Me But You
Waxploitation records has just released the second installment of their ongoing benefit series for Darfur. 100% of all profits made on this stellar compilation will go to Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and Oxfam America. Each of these three organizations are doing incredible things to help those suffering from the crises taking place in Darfur.
Several of the best indie artists in the business have donated rare and exclusive songs for this great cause. So I encourage you to go to iTunes or Amazon and download these tracks. It is a great way to get some new music and love your neighbor at the same time. You should also check out Causes 1, which is also loaded with great artists, such as Bright Eyes, The Shins, Spoon and Death Cab. And if you go to the Causes store, you can buy both albums for just $17.
Tracklist for Causes 2
Black Moth Super Rainbow – Happy Melted City
The Decemberists – After The Bombs (Live Version)
Devendra Banhart – White Reggae Troll
Diplo – Wassup Wassup (Exclusive Samim Remix)
Federico Aubele – Luna y Sol
Gnarls Barkley – Mystery Man
LCD Soundsystem – Starry Eyes Original (Causes Exclusive)
My Morning Jacket – Highly Suspicious (VHS or Beta DJs Remix)
Matthew Dear – When She Don’t Need Me (Causes Exclusive)
Mum – Asleep In A Hiding Place
Neon Neon – I Lust U Feat. Cate le Bon (DJ Eli Escobar Remix)
Richard Swift – Wastin’ M’Time
RJD2 – Wherever
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – It Hurts To Be Alone
Tim & Eric – Petite Feet (Exclusive Devlin & Ghostdad Remix Feat. Sylvia Gordon)