Though she shares a country of origin with Miss Lily Allen, musically Kate Nash seems to share more in common with Regina Spektor. She plays piano brilliantly. Her music has humor, irony, spunk, spirit, and a knack for capturing the angsty joy of young adulthood. Plus: her accent is irresistible.
Her debut album "Made of Bricks" opened as #1 in the UK. In it she sings about dickheads and discos, trainers and tarts. The stories she weaves are true-to-life, and frenetically fun.
Finally! The wait is over! iTunes has finally updated their store with new free tracks for this week. And there are some gems!
1. Raheem DeVaughn - "Woman"
We begin with a track from Raheem DeVaughn called "Woman". For starters, is that a smooth name or what? But that's not all he's got going for him.
This particular track is Grammy-nominated. Yes, you heard me right. This track has been nominated for "Best Male R&B Vocal Performance" at the 2008 Grammys.
Raheem is a premium artist on the verge of explosion. It's rare you get a song of this quality for free. Download it immediately.
2. James Otto - "Just Got Started Lovin' You"
Next is a great country track from James Otto. I'm not terribly familiar with James Otto's music, but he has a sonorous bass voice with just a hint of sauciness to it. Plus, he's a local Fort Lewis Navy boy, so holler!!
Apparently this song is #28 on the country charts right now, so it's probably getting some radio play. It didn't blow me away, but I dug it. Check it out.
3. Pedro Capo - "Esta Noche"
Honestly, some of the best unknown tracks iTunes pulls out are the latino pop ones. This week's is from Pedro Capo. Pedro Capo is the son of Bobby Capo, who was an extremely famous Puerto Rican singer in his day.
And continuing in the tradition of latino musical sons, Pedro is hot. Not Enrique Iglesias hot, but he's got his own thing going on.
I love the excitement and tradition of this music. Pick it up this week or face paying $.99 for it next week.
Josh Kelley is a fairly new artist on the scene, probably known more for his marriage to Grey's Anatomy star Katherine Heigl than for any meaningful music contributions thus far.
But things seem to be falling in place for Josh Kelley. He's got the trendy Converse sneaks, he's got his hot wife in his music video, and he's just released a pretty catchy album with mainstream appeal.
Since it's release date on 1/17, "Special Company" has been hanging out in the iTunes top 10 albums, so I decided to check it out.
The album is incredibly versatile. Josh is a veritable musical chameleon. There are some moments when I would swear I was listening to John Mayer with breathy vocals and impeccably picked guitar. Then suddenly he's straddling his guitar like a rock demi-god and wailing impossibly high notes. He shifts again, his voice light, and jazzy, trilling out warbling falsetto like no one's business. Blink, and he's channeling country harmonies and twang.
Time will tell if this tremendous versatility serves to make Josh a superstar, or simply confuses his listeners. But the diversity of the album will keep you intrigued and listening. And it's a steal at $7.99 on iTunes.
Pick up Josh Kelley's "Special Company" for $7.99.
When I first heard that Paula Abdul was staging a comeback, I ran to the internet to ascertain whether pigs, had in fact, sprouted wings and were spotted zooming through the skies. No such luck. The internet only confirmed the rumors. My skin began to crawl and I began sweating profusely. I could smell disaster on the horizon.
As we countdown towards more free music on iTunes, indulge me in bringing you something a little bit different.
I was first exposed to Jeremy Fisher via a Paste Magazine CD Sampler featuring the song "The Scar that Never Healed". The track went into my car where I played it for three straight months, fiercely loving all of its quirky boppiness, and then promptly forgot about it.
I was then reminded of Jeremy Fisher again in seeing his video for "Cigarette" on YouTube. The guy literally spent hours moving around a little play-doh cigarette. That kind of effort and dedication is worth some kind of reward, so I checked out his album on iTunes.
I was thrilled with what I found. First off, the album is great. Jeremy vocally delivers a bit like Tom Petty, but over super-happy, poppy, guitar-picking goodness. He can build up your heart, and then break it all over again with equal fervor. I enjoy every track.
But best of all, the album is only $5.99 on iTunes. I can't imagine why: it's $12.98 at Amazon. But it's a fantastic deal. Plus, you get two more awesomely homespun music videos from Jeremy's strange and fantastic brain.
Pick up Jeremy Fisher's "Goodbye, Blue Monday" today for only $5.99.
There's pretty much no chance that you haven't heard OneRepublic's smash hit: Apologize. It's been all over the air waves this winter. I'm sure you were, like myself, captured instantly by the soaring vocals of lead vocalist Ryan Tedder. His last name is Tedder? How cute is that? With those little chubby cheeks he absolutely could be a chubby teddy bear.
I digress. OneRepublic blew up on MySpace this year, and then blew up even further under the arm of Timberland. Personally, I think their raw track sounds way better than the Timberland remix, but judge for yourself. What I'm here to talk about is the album.
The album is really amazing. If you like The Fray, Coldplay, and Maroon 5, OneRepublic has a knack of mixing some of the most striking features of each of these bands: the wunderkind pianist, the soaring falsetto, and the funky soulfulness.
Listening through, you'll cycle through getting goosebumps and getting pumped up. The entire record rockets with cathartic release.
And get this: iTunes has it on sale for $7.99! That's $2 less than amazon and $5 less than you'll pay in the store. In addition to 13 great tracks, you'll get 3 music videos and a digital booklet with pics of the band.
Get OneRepublic for $7.99 at iTunes today!
If you were living under a rock, you might not have heard how Radiohead made history by offering their latest album, In Rainbows, on the internet for "whatever price you felt like paying" (plus a not-frequently-publicized $2 transaction fee). Gazillions of people got the album for "free", but many others chipped in lots of cash.
The album is now in stores for a normal amount of money, but Radiohead demonstrated how they could break the cd business model and still make bank.
Well, they're at it again. Not satisfied with breaking the mold in one way, Radiohead is now offering their item up for free AGAIN. This time as a podcast. Yup. You can download the entire podcast, and listen to the album as often as you want to. For free.
In truth, it is a great album. Radiohead gets a lot of idol worship that may or may not be undeserved, but this is the first album of theirs in a while that actually feels accessible to me. Their last few, I kind of appreciated the music for its complexity and innovation, but I wasn't couldn't really get into it. It was like Thom Yorke was executing some inside joke that only he and a select base of fans were privy to. I wasn't moved by it.
This record is a pleasure to listen to. Pick it up for free and rediscover the genius of Radiohead.
1. The March – Astra Heights
I’m digging the title of this song, because it describes exactly what’s going on in the music. A driven, heavy guitar is the perfect accompaniment for a long, arduous march down the road that you’re trying to liven up a bit.
While Astra Heights’ sound is classic Brit rock, they are apparently a bunch of Hispanic brothers with one half-Greek/half-Chinese honorary brother in the mix. They pay homage extremely well, sounding a bit like a mellowed out Fratellis. There’s a lot to like here: soaring vocals, crisp harmonies, and solid production.
My initial thought on hearing their sound was that it was a bit muddled. I wanted it to go fully dirty and gritty, or a bit more glam and polished. But it grew on me after a few listens. I’d watch out for these guys. I have a sneaking suspicion they are going to be huge.
Grab their free single, and check out their full album here for an extremely reasonable $5.99.
2. Ashley Shepherd - Takin' Off This Pain
Listen to Ashley's song and then guess her age. Go on. I'll wait.
You back? Okay. I bet you never guessed that the girl with that enormous, mature voice is only 21 years old. Yup, and she's as cute as a little button too.
I'm always a fan of young talented people. She's obviously a good musician, and I think she'll be big on the country circuit. She's already getting some radio play, and I say good for her.
But, there's a weird dichotomy created by her appearance, her voice, and the song lyrics. She looks like an adorable girl-next-door. Very sweet and innocent. But with her big, adult voice and her lyrics, it's almost like RCA is trying to market her as older than she actually is.
I mean, she's already holding a beer in one hand and being disillusioned with her marriage with the other? At 21? Really?
Despite my confusion, and a sometimes harsh timbre to her voice like she's pushing it too hard, I like Ashton Shepherd. She's newly signed, and her album isn't yet, so grab her single and consider yourself lucky to have gotten a preview.
This is the time of the week where we remind everybody that one of of the best ways to get access to free music on iTunes is to download music podcasts.
One of my favorites is the IndieFeed series of podcasts. This week, we are featuring the IndieFeed Alternative/Rock Music podcast.
These podcasts are fantastic. They aggregate some of the hottest and upcoming acts in music and feature one great track a day. The result is a collection of music that would be extremely pricey for you to acquire yourself. It's a cheap way to broaden your tastes and find great music.
And what do they get in return for this great deal they're giving you? Nothing really, as far as I can tell. So support their true altuism and download their podcast.
Get the podcast.
1. Black Tide - "Shockwave"
It's the return of rock! All you rockers out there will be very pleased with this week’s free track from Black Tide. It’s all here: classic vocals, raging guitars, and bad attitudes. It hearkens back to the days when Guns N’ Roses were roaming the streets, all bad-ass. But with slightly more metal influences. Funny story: you’d never guess from listening to this track at how young the band members are.
2. Monareta - "Llama"
I was totally digging this track from Monareta, a South American duo. It’s very hip, boppy reggae with some random Spanish vocals, electronic effects, and the occasional jazzy horn sample. Then, somewhere in the middle of the track, something bad started happening.
It sounded as if they added someone scraping an electronic washboard to their wall of sound. I know, it sounds like that would be cute and folksy, but it started buzzing my speakers so badly I thought something was wrong with my computer.
I’d recommend downloading it and skipping the last two minutes. The song is too long anyway.
3. Angie Mattson - "Thank You"
“Thank You” is a nice, if-unremarkable track from Angie Mattson. Angie has a standard-issue smoky voice, and apparently a standard-issue grateful heart. It’s the kind of track that gets tossed as a P.S. onto the end of an album. ‘Thank You’ isn’t really a showcase for her songwriting skills, and the instrumentals trap her between country and jazz genres, which is a misrepresentation of her work. This is all too bad, because this is probably the biggest exposure Angie will see for a while, and she actually has some pretty good stuff.
I can think of worse things to listen to as you’re trying to fall asleep, so it’s worth picking up for that, if nothing else.
It's Tuesday and that means we have three new free singles available. This week's are a significant step up from last week's. You're going to want to download all three
1. Time to Pretend - MGMT
iTunes was having some trouble with this track when I attempted to download it, so I'll add a link once it's started behaving. Luckily, I'm very familiar with this band. MGMT (said: management) is a fantastic up-and-coming band that mixes indie pop and electro-rock to spectacular results.
They are very difficult to describe, but immediately compelling: rock-oriented vocals and harmonies find their way through buzzing bass and chill beats. The result is something like nothing else you've ever heard, but you're going to want to hear a lot more of.
2. Quien Eres Tu - Maria Jose (featuring Trey Songz)
Maria Jose is already extremely well known in Mexico, as part of the pop group Kabah. This is the first single off her first solo effort, and is already rocketing up the charts.
It's not hard to see why. Not only is she beautiful, but the music is catchy. Think late-era Spice Girls in Spanish. Most of the song is in Spanish (the title translates to 'Who are you?'), but Trey Songz does some gorgeous over the song all in English, so still definitely worth picking up for you English-only speakers out there.
3. Celebration - The Modern Tribe
Forget lyrics here. It's impossible to hear precisely what vocalist Katrina Ford is saying as she warbles through this single. But you won't need them. The music is so full, it doesn't really afford for luxuries like words or breath. Katrina is an extremely interesting, versatile vocalist, sounding in turns like Feist cut free from pretentions, then like a mellow Karen O.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV on the Radio influences can be heard here, but largely the music surges forward on its own merits.
After listening to this single, I feel like I've eaten an enormous aural meal. My ears are full. I need to go find a pallette cleanser somewhere.
Everybody needs to get those oldies but goodies into their mp3 collection. Those songs that you grew up with, danced to in front of the mirror, and would secretly still like to dance to in front of the mirror.
In honor of that spirit, iTunes is having a $7.99 sale for a large number of their Greatest Hits albums. What's good about this? Two things:
1. Greatest Hits albums have lots of rad songs on them, so there is a high awesomeness:crap ratio. And,
2. Greatest Hits albums have TONS of songs on them. Usually 15-18. Meaning that you're getting a great value for your money.
Here are some of the highlights of the sale that I would recommend:
1. U218 Singles - U2
I cannot emphasize enough what a great deal this is. Not only are you getting U2's 18 top hits, but 10 other songs as well, including 9 live tracks. That's 28 U2 songs for $7.99. I call that value for money.
And don't tell me that you don't need U2. Everybody needs U2. Sure, 15 years ago you collected all of the cds, but along the way your car got broken into and they were stolen, or there was a tragic accident involving a dog, or after getting super emo after a bad break-up, you listened to 'With or Without You' on repeat for 43 hours straight and your cd player imploded, cd still inside.
Plus, Bono will just give the proceeds of the album purchase to Africa or something. So it's practically giving to charity and getting great music in return. C'mon. You need it. You know it.
2. Journey's Greatest Hits
Journey is one of those bands that nobody pretends to like, and then you open their car doors and "Just a small town girl, livin' in a lone-ly wo-ooorld. She took the midnight train goin' ehhn-eeee-where..." comes blaring out. And you get in the car, reseal the doors, and join them in air guitar for the next four glorious minutes.
Seriously, this album is so guilty-pleasure good that it pangs my heart strings. 16 tracks, among them: Don't Stop Believing, Any Way You Want It, Open Arms, Faithfully, and more sheer awesomeness.
- Best band of the 90's: Smashing Pumpkins' Greatest Hits
- My first introduction to David Bowie was in the movie Labryinth, with giant hair and tight, bulging spandex pants. My eyes took years to heal. But turns out he makes some great music too: Best of Bowie
- Yeah, you know 'Man on the Moon', but if you haven't fallen in love to 'NightSwimming', you don't really know REM yet: REM's Greatest Hits
- Listen to the chord progression of a train wreck in action: Britney Spears' Greatest Hits
- I only recently got into the Cure. There's something timelessly cool about them: The Cure Greatest Hits
Post a comment about your favorite greatest hit album!
Happy New Year everyone! I've been on vacation, so these are a bit late, but we'll get back to the regular posting schedule this Tuesday.
The fact of the matter is, you didn't miss much. This week's free singles on iTunes are insanely horrible. I just finished listening to them and when I came too found that I had ripped my own ears off in self-defense. But they are free, right? And since that's all that really matters, let's review.
1. Buck Buck - DJ Envy and the Red Cafe
I can picture the recording session for this single now. They met a rapper who was great but his talent was handicapped by a slight stutter. Still, they let him into the studio, and gave him the mike for his big shot. "Buck, Buck, Buck, Buck, Buck, Buck" was all he could get out, sounding frustrated and angry, foam building up in his mouth as he tried to spit out the right syllables. But we are left bereft and aching at what mysteries he never got to reveal. Buck Rogers, perhaps? Bucking Cowboys? We'll never know...
Seriously, this is the single worst song I have ever downloaded from iTunes. You might want to download it for the sheer entertainment value. There's an incomprehensibly bizarre bridge in the middle of the song where some atonal singing begins and there's a bunch of gunshot noises. I guess sometimes with iTunes, you really do get what you pay for.
2. Sola - Insight
One of the reviewers on the iTunes site captured it best: this sounds like a cover band of Fall Out Boy singing in Spanish. Nowhere near as offensive to the ears as the first track, but a bit sloppy and lacking in any meaningful hooks. Maybe the lyrics are really moving, but my three years of junior high spanish only let me pick out the phrases "and where are you" and "I only think of you", so likely not. Still, worth the download.
3. Spring Again - Lanae' Hale
Lanae' Hale is mysterious. Is she a country, pop, or Christian artist? Why does she do that hiccuping thing with her voice at the end of a perfectly good note? Why does she have a seemingly needless apostrophe at the end of her first name?
Mysterious or not, thanks to this week's competition lowering the bar so low that we had to dig a hole six inches underneath the ground to accomodate it, she has contributed the best single of this week. It's a bit syrupy, but I can't say I disagree with the sentiment. I very much want spring to come again. And she has a quirky, but not quite-quirky-enough, way of singing about that. So, yea Lanae'!