Archive for free

Free=Good in ’07

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 27, 2008 by amson

In the past year there were several albums released for free (legally) or for minimal costs to the user. A novel idea? Maybe? A profitable idea? Probably not? A good idea? I think most definitely so!

In an age of illegal music downloading and lawsuits against those involved in the pirating of music- it’s comforting to know that there are visionary artists and labels out there willing to transcend the establishment and break down the archetype in favor of spreading music! Many bands can offer free or discounted albums because they make most of their profit from touring and merchandise sales- so spreading their music is basically free advertising!

So why do I care about free or low cost albums (other then the obvious)? Well, it just so happens that in 2007 the albums I obtained for free or for a reduced cost were all vying for top honors in my “best album” list. Yes, you read that correctly- they all were solid efforts- which dispels the theory that free music is cast-away sort of stuff or cutting room floor material. These albums aren’t just free music to satiate a devoted fanbase, it’s honest to goodness top flight music!

Big Head Todd & the Monsters– “All the Love You Need”

-Big Head Todd mailed actual copies of this album to mailing list members and radio stations- hoping to spread the word and garner interest. Everyone else can download the album for free at their website. They were sponsored by a few companies in this endeavor- including Croc (Soles United) as well as Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. The album is still free- and as far as I can tell it will always be free. In my opinion, this album is classic Big Head Todd. It’s great roots type rock music- with great craftsmanship in the writing as well as the playing. For me, this collection of songs was a strong contender for album of the year!

Saul Williams- “The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust”

Poet/ rapper/ actor/ writer Saul Williams released this album with options- pay either $5 or $0 for the download of the music. I paid nothing- and after hearing the album wished I had contributed! Admittedly, it’s a strange blend of hip-hop, slam poetry, and (due to Trent Reznor production) hard hitting metal noises…. but it’s a surprisingly good take on Saul’s disjointed, frenetic, and blunt style of art!

Atmosphere-“Strictly Leakage

One of my favorite rap duos, Atmosphere, have never been known to follow anyone’s lead or compromise themselves, their personality, or their art. That is why they surprised their fans with a FREE treat called “Strictly Leakage”. I found out about this album download a tad too late (2008) which removed it from consideration for top honors in 2007. Having said that, when one album is packed with tracks like “The Things that Hate Us”, “Get it to Get Her”, “Domestic Dog”, and “You Played Yourself”, it has got to be considered among the very best. To make matters even more exciting, Atmosphere is going to release an official new studio album on April 22- it just doesn’t get any more exciting for fans of the Rhymesayers or MinneSNOWta hip hop!!

Radiohead- “In Rainbows

I do not own this album- I kind of slept on this download, and when I came to my senses it was no longer available. This was the talk and buzz of entertainment circles for most of the last 6 months or so. Radiohead has always been known as a trailblazer- not only in their musical style but also in how they present themselves to the world. Radiohead, like Williams, gave fans the option of what they wanted to pay. Only this time, they let you decide just exactly how much to contribute. So, if desired, the album download could be had for $0.00. I like their style, but can’t comment on the actual music here- although it’s been reviewed quite favorably all over the place!

There were other free or reduced album releases in 2007- I’m fairly confident of that. These are the gems that happened to cross my path- and I’m sure glad they did. I hope this trend continues…


AM Son