Top 11 Favorite Free Albums, 2011
(albums that were released in 2011 and are still available for free as of 30 December, 2011)
- Geotic - Mend
Geotic’s music is lush and laid-back, slowly ambling through your dreamscapes with washes of synth and little guitar loops. It deposits melodies that drift for days in your subconscious, never really resolving but never really going away either.
- Back to the Future the Ride - Tron Legacy
This is what it must sound like on The Grid or inside the Metaverse. I mean, running with the title here, this album, which is apparently NOT performed by robots, sounds much more like what I imagine the outskirts of a computer-world to feel like. It’s decaying, fragmented, echoing, and charged.
- Born Gold - Bodysongs
To anthropomorphize, it’s as if the computers playing the sounds are so earnest that they’re pressing everything just a little too hard and music is getting slightly distorted as a result. It’s that distortion that really takes Born Gold over the top into greatness.
- Richard Swift and Damien Jurado - Other People’s Songs vol. 1
I’m going to go out on a limb here: Richard Swift and Damien Jurado are John Lennon and Harry Nilsson on this free covers album. It’s a casual, tossed-off album that takes a lot more chances than either of their recent records.
- The Rare Plants Garden
There’s a lot going on in these laid-back tracks: chimes, xylophones, accordions, not to mention enough horns and serious bass groove to make Quincy Jones proud. That doesn’t mean that synthesizers and sampled beats are left to the wayside, either. I’m honestly baffled that this ep hasn’t exploded all over the Internet Music Blog Consortium; it’s catchy as hell and there’s lots here for everyone to like.
- Clams Casino - Instrumental Mixtape
Clams Casino is a SF-area beatmaker who has had a pretty solid string of hits for people like Lil B and Soulja Boy, but don’t let that put you off of this album of instrumentals from a number of the songs that he produced. It’s incredible: dark, heavy, and enveloping like some sort of alternate-universe Julianna Barwick. You need to get this.
- Foxygen - Take the Kids Off Broadway
It is bigger on the inside and exists in multiple places and time periods all at the same time. Of course it’s associated with madman/genius/wolfman Richard Swift. Download it now before you hear a tarted-up, watered down version playing at Starbucks next summer.
- SPORTS - SPORTS
They play pretty great 80s new wave pop, but the bass is just SO HEAVY that it overwhelms the music sometimes. Not enough to obscure the great pop choruses or the occasional yelping in the vocals, but enough for you to realize this isn’t just some New Order cover band.
- Death Grips - Exmilitary
Exmilitary doesn’t give the listener much room to breathe, and if you try, you may find the air filled with shrapnel and tear gas. Death Grips may want you to bob your head, but but I have the sneaking suspicion that they want to snap your neck, too. (text by @fredghansah)
- Kynan - I Will Count the Stars
It’s not often that several of my favorite types of music come together without sounding hokey or pandering. Kynan somehow traverses the entire spectrum of noise>shoegaze>lo-fi pop>beats>psych>ambient like he’s tripping down my five-star playlist in iTunes.
- Dntel - Enya Mixes
The result uses the classic Enya textures (her echoey voice, the haunting synthesizers) to paint completely new ambient masterpieces. It feels so much like Enya, but her songs are missing. It’s a bit disconcerting at first, but it’s too gorgeous to stop listening.
There are lots more in the archives! See you next year!