The xx

The xx

The band The xx were just named the winners of the 2010 Mercury Prize awarded for the best album by a UK or Irish band. Established in 1992, Primal Scream’s Screamadelica took home the initial award. Other winners have included Suede, Portishead, Pulp, Badly Drawn Boy, PJ Harvey, Dizzee Rascal, Franz Ferdinand, Antony and the Johnsons, Arctic Monkeys, Klaxons and Elbow. Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons, Foals, Paul Weller, Dizzee Rascal, Corinne Bailey Rae and Wild Beasts were among this year’s nominees. The trio receives £20,000. “Crystalised” and “Islands” are two singles from The xx debut album xx, plus the song “Infinity” a personal fave.

“Crystalised”

“Islands”

“Infinity”

James: Free download

James:  Free download

The English band James has been around since the early 80s. They are one of those British bands that is exceeding well-known in their home country but only have a cult following in the US. With over ten studio albums to their credit, the band is best known for the song “Laid” produced by Brian Eno. Through the years they have been through various personnel changes and the lead singer, Tim Booth, left the band for awhile to pursue solo projects. A few years ago they reunited and this year released two mini-albums: The Night Before and The Morning After. In the states the two have been combined as The Morning After the Night Before! “Crazy” is from this album, available as a free download from iTunes and is the Song of the Day.

“Crazy” by James

David Byrne: New audiobook and free download

David Byrne:  New audiobook and free download

The always fascinating David Byrne has been featured here in the past with his music and various thoughts. (Just use the Search button in the upper right.) He continues to embrace the latest technologies to create new worlds for us to explore. Now he has created his own unique audiobook of his travelogue Bicycle Diaries which was published last year. Here is the letter that I recently received from him and this link will give you a free download for the Introduction to his Audiobook.

“After Bicycle Diaries came out in hardback about a year ago, I wondered to myself, what if the audiobook for this project was more like a cross between a podcast and a radio show instead of the usual author or actor reading in silence? I was thinking about the kind of radio show that NPR stations do from time to time, with background music, street sounds and other ambiences that help put the listener in the picture. So, I did one chapter (“New York”) as a test, with me reading, and though it took a lot longer to assemble than I expected, I felt it did indeed do what I imagined it could; when you heard the tinkle of glasses and silverware during a restaurant “scene,” boom!-you immediately felt you were there. Your mind fills in the details and these little sound cues help paint a fuller picture. If only I could have added smell! When the text went off on one of many tangents, and I began ruminating about a subject off the beaten path, a little bit of music I happened to have available helped tell you, the listener, that, yes, we’ve left the “story” temporarily, but will return soon. It started as an experiment and then turned into a complete DIY project, with the Hendler Brothers keeping the ball rolling.

I also realized that this particular book could be consumed in any order, and it didn’t matter which chapter you started with. So one could download and listen to the chapters as individual podcasts, in any sequence. I could even make the chapters available to download separately-you wouldn’t need to buy the whole audiobook to see if you liked the experience. This all would have been impossible if these were made available only via CD (or cassette!)…or with many other types of books.

Technology had, it seemed, created an opportunity for a whole new format to come into being. I’m not sure anything exactly like this has ever been done before. Sure, there are NPR radio shows with sound effects (Joe Frank comes to mind) as well as ye olde radio dramas (The Shadow was one), but if there’s anything similar out there I’m unaware of it. And yes, there are loads of downloadable audiobooks-but you have to listen to the chapters in the prescribed order, unless you are into self created meta fiction.

So, the first taste-the Introduction-is free. It’s shorter than a regular chapter too”.

!!!: Free download

!!!:  Free download

!!! (generally pronounced Chk Chk Chk) have been together since 1996 when they formed in Sacramento, CA. They claim to have taken their name from the subtitles of the film The Gods Must be Crazy. The clicking sounds of the southern African Bushmen’s language was represented with an exclamation point (!). The 4th album by !!! has just been released with the title Strange Weather, Isn’t It? This dance/punk band is offering a free download of “AM/FM”, the Song of the Day.

“AM/FM” by !!!

Fitz & the Tantrums: Free download

Fitz & the Tantrums:  Free download

It’s been awhile since we have had some fine blue-eyed soul. Fitz & the Tantrums, a six-piece soul band from LA (with Fitz (Michael Fitzpatrick) on lead vocals, Noelle Scaggs providing vocal counterpoint, James King blowing the saxophone, keyboards from Jeremy Ruzumna, and the rhythm section of Ethan Phillips and John Wicks, bass and drums respectively), fills the bill and gets us moving with hand-clapping Motown-influenced retro-soul with an indie sensibility. Word has it that they are riveting live. Pickin’ Up the Pieces is their brand new debut and a free download of “MoneyGrabber” from the album is the Song of the Day.

MoneyGrabber by Fitz & the Tantrums

Glasser

Glasser

Cameron Mesirow is the band known as Glasser. She was born in Boston but moved to San Francisco pre-adolescence. (Of interest, her parents are Casey Cameron of the band Human Sexual Response and her father is a member of the Blue Man Group in Berlin.) She recorded her first EP by herself on GarageBand in 2009. Now with the assistance of a studio and producers her debut album Ring will be released later this month. Sumptuously beautiful, “Home” from that album is the Song of the Day.

“Home” by Glasser

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