The music industry may be in a rut, but the magic of downloads have made it a golden age for finding new things. I’ve made particular use of Amazon’s monthly “100 albums for $5 a piece” promotions. Here’s what I’ve picked up in recent months:
Charm School by Bishop Allen
I discovered this group about a year ago through Pandora but have only just bought this album. Their sound is hard to categorize. If you listened to the rhythm track, you might think it’s hip hop. On top of that, though, are gently sung lyrics that go between rapid, rambling verses and drawn out, slowed down choruses. Good stuff but not for someone scared they’ll be accused of listening to “wimp music.”
Standout track(s): “Eve of Destruction” and “Things Are What You Make of Them”
Arms Hotel by The Hard Lessons
Once in a while an album can surprise you. I downloaded this one because they were a Detroit band I heard good things about. The samples didn’t do a lot for me but I bought it anyway. I’m very glad I did as this is a great rock band that balances the gritty sound of Detroit rock with solid pop sensibilities. It’s a great album from beginning to end.
Standout track(s): “Sound the Silent Alarm” and “See You Again”
Stop, Drop, and Roll by the Foxboro Hot Tubs
If you start listening to this and think “these guys sound like Green Day” it’s because it is Green Day. This is their side project where they disguise themselves as a Sixties-era mod rock band (think The Kinks and early albums by The Who). The album isn’t an all-time classic but it’s a whole lot of fun and makes a nice counterpoint to their last two rock-operas.
Standout track(s): “Mother Mary”
Fountains of Wayne by Fountains of Wayne
I’ve been meaning to buy this a long time as I really like Welcome Interstate Managers and was told this one is better. It’s a great example of how pop rock should be done. If Rivers Cuomo isn’t going to do introspective music anymore, this is exactly the type of stuff you’d want Weezer to do. The band combines great melodies with lyrics that might not be deep but are endlessly fun and original.
Standout track(s): “Joe Rey” and “Leave the Biker”
Blakroc by Blakroc
Blakroc is a side project by The Black Keys teaming them up with a variety of hip hop artists. The result is the type of album that makes me want to buy more hip hop. Not all the tracks are winners but it features a back-to-basics mix of songs that make both the Keys and their guests (Mos Def, RZA, Jim Jones, Q-Tip, and others) shine.
Standout track(s): “On the Vista” and “Ain’t Nothin’ Like You”
Key Lime Pie by Camper Van Beethoven
It’s not a new album but I just now got around to replacing my old cassette of it. It’s still as weird and cool as I remember. Some tracks I didn’t care for before sound better to my older ears, which is always a plus.
Standout track(s): “Sweethearts” and “All Her Favorite Fruit”
So there are my recent purchases. Here’s a list of what I plan on buying next:
Brothers by The Black Keys
Plastic Beach by Gorillaz
Tupelo Honey by Van Morrison
The Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest
Anyone else have music to suggest?