|Kids||Time To Pretend|| |
|Eyes||Fire & Ice|| |
|Die Die Die||Emotionalism|| |
|The Avett Brothers|
|Don't Know Why||Come Away With Me|| |
|Time To Pretend||Time To Pretend|| |
|Room for Happiness (feat. Skylar Grey)||Fire & Ice|| |
|The Ballad Of Love And Hate||Emotionalism|| |
|The Avett Brothers|
|Come Away With Me||Come Away With Me|| |
Free & Discount Playlist
Free For Fall
Autumn is around the corner and Google Play is pleased to offer a sampler of free and discount tracks from some of our favorite artists. From pop and hip-hop to rock and beyond, kick off the season with mellow ballads and upbeat anthems that are sure to shake off that first fall chill.
by the Google Play Team
Somewhat sneakily, as they honed their blend of new wave, synth pop, soft rock, and all things '80s for the better part of a decade, Phoenix became one of the most influential acts of the 2000s and 2010s. When they married that distinctive style to some of their strongest songs on 2009's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, that album's mainstream success felt like a well-earned reward for their years of defining a sound that had permeated a lot of pop culture. Its follow-up, Bankrupt!, isn't nearly as devoid of new ideas as its title suggests, but it doesn't feel like quite the leap forward Wolfgang was compared to what came before it. Not that it necessarily needs to be; Phoenix sound more comfortable and confident than ever on songs like the lead single, "Entertainment," which defines almost everything that they do on the rest of the album with its galloping beats, earnest vocals, and Asian-tinged keyboard melodies. "Trying to Be Cool," "Don't," and "Oblique City" also carry over the bouncy irresistibility of the band's breakthrough, and even if they don't have the star-making power that "1901" and "Lisztomania" did, they reveal Phoenix's deep love and even deeper knowledge of '80s pop magic in their deft major-to-minor key changes and strategically placed buildups and breakdowns. These little touches help the band stand out among its like-minded contemporaries, and it helps that Phoenix have been drawing inspiration from the '80s longer than that decade actually existed (the fact that they mixed Bankrupt! on the console used in the making of Michael Jackson's Thriller might have contributed some good '80s karma as well). Elsewhere, they pay lip service to another of that decade's icons with "Drakkar Noir," and the way Thomas Mars pronounces it almost makes the overbearing cologne cool again. Here and on "The Real Thing," the band ponders and crosses the line between real and fake, taking it to new levels on "S.O.S. in Bel Air," which could reignite the debate between Strokes and Phoenix fans over who copied who first (and who does it better). Later on, things get interesting -- particularly for longtime fans -- when the band indulges its experimental side on songs like the seven-minute title track, which prefaces Mars' vocals with a lengthy stretch of baroque keyboards, and the expansive melancholy of "Chloroform" and "Bourgeois." Even if moments like these aren't exactly in keeping with the sound that broke Phoenix, they're a reminder that the bandmembers ultimately became popular by being themselves. Bankrupt! lets them celebrate with a victory lap that's enjoyable for all concerned.
In the time before this wonderful album named Camp existed, the “actors who rap” proposition would have been all red flags. Brian Austin Green, Mr. T, Joaquin Phoenix, and many others are on the “cons” list, while the “pros” would have been Drake (barely counts, unless "Degrassi: The Next Generation" was your thing) and maybe AVN award-winner Dirt Nasty. These were the horrible odds "Community" star and comedy writer Donald Glover was up against when he took the Internet’s Wu-Tang Name Generator to heart and became rapper Childish Gambino, but anyone who right-clicked on one of his 2010/2011 mixtapes can tell you, he beat those odds, and with Camp, indie rap fans won the Lotto. The gloriously different and wonderfully inspired rhymes that downloaders experienced are here once more, and Gambino’s style is still that attractive blend of heartfelt and humorous or, in a nutshell, I-just-wasn’t-made-for-these-times-and-yet-I-love-the-Internet with “That ain’t even ironic bitch/I love Rugrats!” being a quintessential punch line/decree. He’s got that Kanye-sized swagger on lock too, as the triumphant “All the Shine” struts with vibrant colors, and he's just as complicated, as the track slowly descends into self-doubt and earth tones before it fades into the soft and meek “Letter Home,” all of it adding up to some kind of bizarre and ambitious bipolar backpacker suite. Nerdy wonders and insightful laughs are the reasons you want to visit Camp Gambino, but you’ll stay for the lush, surprisingly large production from Glover and Ludwig Göransson, along with the thrill of untangling it all for hours on end, separating the incredibly cool moments from the touching ones and figuring out how this “actor who raps” packaged it all sensibly in a concept album about summer camp that doubles as his showcase debut. Try it and be stunned or submit to it and be satiated; Camp is like the Drake, Cudi, and Kweli camps all offered their best, but it’s really just Glover and his overwhelming bundle of talent, taking indie hip-hop to new levels after spending the day working alongside Chevy Chase. Remarkable.
In July of 2009, a year after MGMT broke out with Oracular Spectacular and became a household name for hipsters, Cantora Records re-released the duo's 2005 EP, Time to Pretend. Remastered by Greg Calibi, the disc includes the original versions of the singles "Kids" and "Time to Pretend," along with four tracks that didn't make the full-length. It's interesting to hear the hits before Dave Fridmann got his mitts on them and turned them from homemade laptop electro jams into explosive pop, and the other songs, "Boogie Down," "Destrokk," "Love Always Remains," and "Indie Rokkers" are pretty good, even if they aren't as huge as the cuts on Oracular Spectacular.
If his 2010 effort Dynasty upped the glitz and glamour, Kaskade’s 2011 return splits the difference between the DJ/producer’s post-Deadmau5 style (big tunes that bust out of the speakers with big production values) and his earlier work (house music that’s smooth and euphoric). “Lick It” with madman Skrillex and the sweet disco rave-up “Waste Love” with Quadron are highlights from the “Fire” category. The big “Ice” numbers act as bookends with Mindy Gledhill and Kaskade offering endless pillows of bliss on “Eyes,” while “Room for Happiness” finds Skylar Grey and the producer equally inspired by Radiohead’s Kid A and the mystical dancefloor genre known as Goa trance. It all hangs together splendidly, as the man seems in his element bouncing between these two worlds, and with most editions of the album coming with a bonus disc filled with alternative versions, this is an easy recommendation for Kaskade fans or the merely Kaskade-curious.
Americana with attitude is the best way to describe the Avett Brothers' music, a sublime blend of folk, country, hillbilly, and blues, swirled through with pop, rock, and a touch of wry punk. In their dreams, it all sounds perfect, but not so much so, they think, when they awake. "Yeah, you deserve the best," they bemoan, not just some "Hand-Me-Down Tune." Well, regrets, we've all had a few, and the Avett Brothers more than some. But if you're going to be filled with "Shame," best to offset your remorse with an incredibly infectious melody. Besides, life is short, and since we're all going to "Die Die Die," we might as well live and love while we can, even if that does just occasionally mean the band must shrug off "All My Mistakes." And love is the paramount emotion of Emotionalism, be it too young (the bouncy "I Would Be Sad"), Spanish-flavored ("Pretty Girl from San Diego"), blues-flecked ("Living of Love"), or exuberant (the British Invasion-styled "Will You Return?"). However, of the many marvelous romantic-themed numbers, the most striking is the romantic tale "The Ballad of Love and Hate," whose opening line, "Love writes a letter and sends it to Hate," immediately grabs your attention. Elsewhere, the band explores other emotions, like the nervousness that infects the otherwise jaunty "Paranoia in B-Flat Major," or the amusing attempts of the band to shrug off the attentions from cities around the country: "Salina" begins in fingerpicking style but ends with evocative classical piano and cello, and "Pretty Girl from San Diego" also shifts tactics from Spanish guitar to a big rock finish. From lullabies to the contrarily rousing singalong party piece "Go to Sleep," the Avett Brothers pick their way through America's folk styles, and deliver them in ways you'd never expect, all wrapped around lyrics, sometimes wry, sometimes dead-serious, but all delivered with the band's signature intensity. A fabulous album from a band that just keeps getting better.
Norah Jones' debut on Blue Note is a mellow, acoustic pop affair with soul and country overtones, immaculately produced by the great Arif Mardin. (It's pretty much an open secret that the 22-year-old vocalist and pianist is the daughter of Ravi Shankar.) Jones is not quite a jazz singer, but she is joined by some highly regarded jazz talent: guitarists Adam Levy, Adam Rogers, Tony Scherr, Bill Frisell, and Kevin Breit; drummers Brian Blade, Dan Rieser, and Kenny Wollesen; organist Sam Yahel; accordionist Rob Burger; and violinist Jenny Scheinman. Her regular guitarist and bassist, Jesse Harris and Lee Alexander, respectively, play on every track and also serve as the chief songwriters. Both have a gift for melody, simple yet elegant progressions, and evocative lyrics. (Harris made an intriguing guest appearance on Seamus Blake's Stranger Things Have Happened.) Jones, for her part, wrote the title track and the pretty but slightly restless "Nightingale." She also includes convincing readings of Hank Williams' "Cold Cold Heart," J.D. Loudermilk's "Turn Me On," and Hoagy Carmichael's "The Nearness of You." There's a touch of Rickie Lee Jones in Jones' voice, a touch of Bonnie Raitt in the arrangements; her youth and her piano skills could lead one to call her an Alicia Keys for grown-ups. While the mood of this record stagnates after a few songs, it does give a strong indication of Jones' alluring talents.