1. Madly - Tristan Prettyman
I'm so excited about this week's free track. I saw Tristan Prettyman open up for Jason Mraz a year ago, and it was clear she was going to be the next big thing. This girl is tall, gorgeous, and has a killer voice. Since she adopts the laid-back surfer attitude, many have dubbed her the female Jack Johnson.
To be clear, the video above is a song from her last album. Her new album: "Hello" just came out today, and is a steal at $5.99 on iTunes. I have a feeling her mellow vibe is going pick up quickly, so I'd grab this album before the price skyrockets up.
Get the free track.
2. Bien Sudao - Tony Dize
Tony is a Puerto Rican who has apprenticed under the best duo in reggaeton, Wisin & Yandel. Now he's out on his own for the first time. The track is reggae meets hip-hop. Very danceable.
"How do I say this diplomatically? I don't love everything I hear," Mayer writes on his blog. "I think that's fair to say. When I hear something I do love, it stands out. And if it's in the singer/songwriter genre, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Dave Barnes is that sore thumb. My thumb aches for Dave Barnes (one word: T-Shirt!). I was trolling the internet a while back – for songs – and came across a tune of his called 'Grace's Amazing Hands' and I was immediately floored."
"Dave and I have kept up over the years, but it took listening to his tunes recently to realize that I've been comatose when it comes to calling out his name in public... He's one of those rare talents that comes so complete out of the box that you can't ask to change a thing, even if you think at first you want to. It just is – and it's great. Dave has never pounced on me, he sends his CD and then – rightfully so – let's the music do the promoting. And he's right in thinking it works. Even though I'm late as hell in responding."
His new album is called "Me and You and The World", and it's so up and coming, it's both in the iTunes top10 right now, AND it only costs $5.99. If you're into the John Mayer/smooth voice/r&b over acoustic guitar thing, you should definitely grab this one.
Ever since I saw Zooey Deschanel sing "Baby, It's Cold Outside" in the movie Elf, I prayed that someday she would release an album. Zooey has an unbelievable voice: it sounds at once classic and modern. Strong yet vulnerable.
So obviously I was psyched when Zooey teamed up with indie star M. Ward to put out She & Him: Volume One.
It's an eclectic collection of original material and covers. It covers alt-country territory tread by Neko Case before, as well as 60's motown. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and each track improves on multiple listens.
The first track to tempt your ears with is "Why Don't You Let Me Stay Here?", but I really think the entire album is deserving of a listen.
Grab "She & Him".
This week's iTunes Editor's Music Choice is a band out of of San Antonio, Texas called "Girl in a Coma". Inspirations here are immediately apparent as the lead singer sounds like a female Morrisey, while the band name draws from the name of a famous Smiths song.
The album is well done top to bottom. Surprisingly sophisticated chord progressions, nearly perfect vocals, fantastic harmonies. I'd start with "Their Cell", my favorite track.
The album, "Both Before I'm Gone" is on sale this week only for $5.99.
1. The Paper - Race For Editor-In-Chief (20:24)
The Paper is a new MTV reality show about a bunch of journalism students putting out their school paper. I haven't watched the full episode, but in the preview I saw on tv, there was a chick with glasses singing really loudly and that was pretty annoying. But hey, it's 20 minutes of faux-reality from MTV, and maybe it will be the next Hills.
2. The Riches - Various Clips (under 2 minutes)
I'm obsessed with the Riches. Such a good show. Basically, Eddie Izzard (who is my favorite!) and Minnie Driver are Irish con-men that are released from prison, and then happen to get in a car accident with a very wealthy couple called "The Riches". The Riches are killed, so they assume their identities, including freakily good southern accents. Definitely worth checking out.
You know the Weepies, even if you don't think you do. You've heard their music on commercials, or maybe on Grey's Anatomy, or in a dozen or so movies. To me, they were the seminal album of 2006, every song so simple and so achingly gorgeous. I've been waiting with baited breath for the arrival of their new album, Hideaway.
If you don't know the story of the Weepies, it's a good one. Deb Talan, a folk singer, was a huge fan of another folk singer Steve Tannen. They saw each other in concert, and met each other, and totally fell in love. So they started writing and singing together. The Weepies, and a marriage, were born.
They named themselves "The Weepies" because they want their music to make you cry: both tears of sorrow and of joy. And with the recent birth of their first child, it will be interesting to see how they've woven that tremendous new experience into their work.
Pre-Order Hideaway by the Weepies for $9.99
1. Algebra Blessett - Run and Hide
Looking at all of the articles about Miss Algebra Blessett, one can only hope that she really does like math, because her first name has cursed her to a lifetime of punny headlines. Even the bio on her website says things like "Ironically there are no textbooks or classroom instructions that could help one balance the equations of Kedar Massenburg's newest protege, ALGEBRA."
Poor Algebra. Listening to her album though, you can definitely start to imagine that she is the next big thing in R&B. Her flow is effortless, it reminds me a bit of a cross between Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu.
Sample her free track, and then consider picking up full album for the bargain of $6.99.
2. Time On Your Side - Emily Jane White
Emily Jane White is one of those rare folk singers that can really depress you. Her voice sounds a bit like Beth Orton, but on her website she mentions how most of her songs are about "isolation". Let's examine her lyrics.
Not much to do
When you've got time on your side.
You sit and think about your wasted life.
I try to move to change things through and through, hoo hoo.
Well, I'm thoroughly depressed. Let's move on.
3. Vengo Venenoso - Antonio Carmona
Excellent Flamenco track. Wanna dance?
It's a pretty slow week for free stuff on iTunes. And I would highlight some great new releases, but I blew most of my music budget last week on the new Raconteurs and R.E.M. albums.
So I'm going to do something I never thought I'd do. Profile a John Mayer song from a crappy Jack Nicholson movie.
I used to be a huge John Mayer fan. Then I realized that he's a bit of a douche. I'm mean seriously - have you seen this guy talk? Then there's the huge butt-chin. Also, he dumped Jessica Simpson, which qualifies him for major douchage.
Strangely enough, however, I happen to like his new single, "Say". I'm going to try to forget it's from "The Bucket List", a movie that was so terrible the previews made me shudder with loathing. Yes, I'm just going to put my headphones out, block all of that out, and try to listen to the nice song, which is very nice, with a tingly guitar riff and flowing harmonies.
Close your eyes, and grab "Say" for $.99 on iTunes.
iTunes is having a fantastic sale right now where albums of up-and-coming artists are available for $5.99 and $6.99.
Two of my favorites in this group come from the genre of "modern chick music", which isn't quite as angry as Lilith-Fair-era chick music, but is also just girly enough to struggle in crossover success into the male audiences.
1. Missy Higgins - On a Clear Night
I've loved Missy for what seems like ages, when she won a songwriting competition in high school and became a breakout success at the age of 16. She's Australian and absolutely huge over there. Here, her songs pepper the Grey's Anatomy soundtracks, but she hasn't had much radio play.
The striking thing about Missy is her voice. The Australian accent mixed with the strong, but still breathiness of her dark alto is undeniably awesome. "On a Clear Night" is the name of her new album for $6.99. Stand-out tracks are the quietly morose "Where I Stood", the jubilant "Steer" and the dainty "Sugarcane".
But if you want a song that will absolutely melt your girly heart, go check out "The Special Two" from her first album. About a girl who surprised herself by cheating on the love of her life, you'll be shocked she wrote this when she was 16.
Grab Missy Higgins' "On a Clear Night" for $6.99
2. Meiko - Meiko
Meiko (despite its spelling, pronounced "meek-koh") is one of those MySpace success stories. Still an independent artists, she's done very well on iTunes, keeping the #1 folk record for several consecutive months. I'm not sure I would classify her as folk, but who can figure out what folk really means these days?
The great thing about the album is that there's no laziness. It's quality songwriting and production all the way through. Stand-out track for me is "How Lucky We Are" which was apparently originally called "Sh*tty Apartment" but changed for the album release.
The self-titled album Meiko is an absolute steal at $5.99.
1. Cut Copy - Lights & Music
I'm ridiculously pleased that this is the free song of the week, since I was prepping an article on Cut Copy anyway. They released their new album, "In Ghost Colours" last week and tempted by the $6.99 price and great review in Spin Magazine, I downloaded. It is love.
Cut Copy's unique sound mixes elements of indie rock and dance music, and the result sounds like the soundtrack to the most raging, awesome party that you've ever wanted to throw. If you listened to New Order in the 80's, you get the general gist.
The free track and first single, "Lights & Music" is cool, but my favorite track on the album is "Feel the Love". I guarantee that it'll be showing up in a car commercial sometime soon.
So grab "Lights and Music" today for free, and if you like it, I strongly urge you to grab the whole album for $6.99.
2. Señor Flavio - Mandita
I am told that Mister Flavio, aka Flavio Cianciarulo, "is a founding member of Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, one of the greatest rock bands on any continent, from any era." This track in particular is supposed to explore 80's rock, a la UB40.
I like the overall track which is upbeat and poppy with lots of hurried rhythmic lyrics. But then this rather scary man who is apparently in third-stage emphysema pops up and starts yelling angrily for the kids to get off his lawn. Or at least, that's what it sounds like. It's in Spanish, I can't tell. It's not for me, but maybe you'll enjoy it...