I love putting these albums together but it does involve a considerable amount of work. In light of that, I would ask anybody who downloads the album to simply send the link on to 10 of their friends and help spread the word in any way that they can. At the end of the day, I do this to help these bands gain more exposure and new fans. The more people that know about it, the better for all involved so I would very much appreciate any assistance in promoting the album. I'd be delighted to hear from anybody who would like to help or who has already helped in posting the link on their blog.
I'm making this a weekly album now so check back next week for another album full of more great music.
Now here's the link to the album, enjoy and remember to support these artists in whatever way you can, even if it's just passing on this link. Thanks
1. The Sticks - Make You Mine
An instant classic, this song is sure to propel The Sticks to the mainstream of British music. Coming out of Manchester, The Sticks were only formed in July 2007 and already have a devoted following. The fantastic vocal pairing of Poppy and Tom Rush lifts The Sticks above the level of many British bands and will surely elevate them to the level that the band's talent deserves. An ep is due out shortly so keep an eye on their website for more information on that. I haven't heard such a new band able to produce 3 songs of such high quality in a long time. Check the others out on their myspace and then make sure you get a hold of the ep when it comes out, proof that you were there from the start, before they became the coolest band in Britain.
2. Lucky Soul
Another English band, this time coming from London, Lucky Soul released their debut album 'The Great Unwanted' last year to widespread acclaim and well deserved it was too. A fantastic pop record, there were a number of songs which I could have chosen to put here but 'Ain't Never Been Cool' was my eventual choice. The first song I heard from the band, I was instantly hooked. If you haven't yet got the album I would highly recommend it for 13 beautifully crafted pop songs, illuminated by lead singer Ali Howard's amazing voice.
3. R.E.M. - Living Well Is The Best Revenge (Live)
This track is taken from a recording of one of R.E.M's rehearsal shows from Dublin last year and is featured on their new album 'Accelerate', due out at the end of March. Having personally attended 3 of the 5 shows, REM put on some of the best performances Dublin has ever seen. They have found a new energy and enthusiasm and this burned through every new song that they played. They have also embraced the internet as a form of promotion for their music and are proving to be one of the most innovative bands in coming up with new ways to release their music and encourage people to buy it. Accelerate is being released in three different formats, with each one offering something different. Look at their website for details of that and also their impending world tour. Also check out a couple of spin off websites that they've set up such as ninetynights.com. As excited as I've been about a new R.E.M record in a long time.
4. Grand Archives - Torn Blue Foam Couch
Coming out of Seattle in America, Grand Archives formed in September 2006 and have just released their debut album entitled 'The Grand Archives' on the SubPop label. A band with a truly distinctive sound, this song is one of my early picks for song of the year and the album will undoubtedly be on many album of the year lists. Led by Matt Brooke (a former member of Band Of Horses) Grand Archives have the staying power missing from so many of today's bands and will be around for years to come. Album is available from the Sub Pop link below and while you're there check out some of the other bands and merchandise available. Some good stuff on the site.
5. Winterpills - Broken Arm
One of my favourite bands at the moment, this song comes from their second album released last year 'The Light Divides'. An album that really rewards repeat listens, it was one of my albums of last year. 'Broken Arm' is a fantastic tune and is best summed up on their own website -" ‘Broken Arm’, which might be Smokey Robinson lyricism negotiating with the shade of Elliott Smith". They also have a new album coming out soon and have a number of songs posted on their myspace so have a listen and then I'm sure you'll want the album so head to their official site to get that. Their first album is available there also and you can pick both of them up for the great price of $20. Well worth it.
6. David Ford - To Hell With The World (Live)
An artist I've been closely following since he released his debut album back in 2005, David Ford is one of the most talented musicians in the industry today. His live version of his song 'State Of The Union' is worth the price of admission alone and if you get the chance to see him live, do not miss it. If he's not coming to your area (check his website for tour dates) look this song up on YouTube. Amazing song. The song I've posted here is a new song that he's playing on his current tour. I was blown away by it when I saw him and although the sound is a little low, turn this one up and enjoy. He has a great voice and writes some excellent songs. He's admired by his peers and music critics alike so make sure you get his two albums (available at the links below) and go see him live while he's still playing in smaller venues. He won't be there for much longer.
7. Bruce Springsteen - Prove It All Night (Live)
Ever wondered why every new band seems to reference Springsteen in any interview they do? Listen to this recording of 'Prove It' from 1978 and it'll become clear. The greatest live performer I have ever seen and with, arguably, the strongest body of work in rock music, Springsteen continues to define the genre and influence countless bands. Probably more relevant now than at any time in his career, if you've never given Springsteen a chance, now is the time to do it. He's out on tour at the moment with the mighty E Street Band and if you've never been to a Springsteen show, get yourself a ticket quickly. Though this recording is from 1978 don't be fooled into thinking that he's no longer capable of such a song. Trust me, after seeing him three times in the last few months, this song could just as easily have been taken from a show on his current tour. Tour dates on his site and check out backstreets.com for more information on 'The Boss'.
8. Elsinore - Cannonballs
Another American band, hailing from Illinois, this foursome are, in their own words, "a touring Midwestern band putting in the time and paying the dues." Listening to this song, I think everybody will agree they won't be paying their dues for much longer. This is an achingly brilliant song, and they've got a clear vision for their music. The lead vocals of Ryan Groff are stunning, a distinctive voice in an industry that seems to reward mediocrity. I came across this song and was shocked to discover that they are currently unsigned. They have a lot of upcoming shows and many already behind them which is always a sign of a serious and talented band. These guys are going to go far and are currently working on a new studio album.
9. Josh Ritter - Rumors (Live)
'Rumors' is taken from Josh's last album 'The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter' which is, in my opinion, his strongest set of songs to date. This was his fifth album and he has built up a very significant and dedicated following around the world. A fantastic live performer, Josh always plays with a smile on his face and is genuinely thrilled to have the opportunity to sing to a group of people. One of the best songwriters of recent times, Josh is continuing to push himself to new lengths and also challenge his audience to keep up with his evolution. He is not satisfied with staying in the same mould and if you listen to each of his albums in order, there is a clear progression on each one. Josh is going to be around for a long time and I think is going to be one of the most important artists of our generation as his albums continue to evolve.
10. Kings Of Leon - Milk (Live)
One of this generation's big bands, Kings of Leon have both the talent and the desire to stay at the top for a long time. 'Milk' is taken off their second album 'Aha Shake Heartbreak' and works fantastically well live. It shows range in their work, which is important for any band who want to continue to be relevant. A great live band, the last Kings album 'Because Of The Times' was easily in the top ten albums of last year and anybody who hasn't yet listened to a Kings Of Leon album, it's an excellent place to start.
11. Tegan And Sara - Call It Off
'Call It Off' comes from the new album from Tegan and Sara, 'The Con'. I've been listening to it for the past couple of weeks and have been very impressed. Having largely ignored the duo up until now I was delighted to come across this brilliant record. There's a couple of great songs on the album, especially look out for the title song, which is sure to be on a lot of song of the year lists. Touring Europe at the moment, Tegan and Sara are on the edge of the mainstream. I'm sure that this new album will give them the extra push that's needed.