Friday, October 09, 2009

10 albums a day #60

All free downloads from All various artists.

Badman: Has it Really Been 10 Years? (2008)
Deep Elm Sampler No. 8: Bonfire of Trust (2008)
P is for Panda Mix Tape Vol. 1 (2008)
The End Records Free Sampler (2008)
Vanguard Records and Sugar Hill Records: The Amazon New Music Digital Sampler (2008)
The Very Best of Naxos Early Music (2008)
Alive Records Sampler (2009)
Anti Sampler (2009)
Arts & Crafts Label Sampler (2009)
Barsuk Records Amazon Digital Sampler (2009)

I've now been through all the Amazon samplers and made brief notes. There's a lot of good music in here. There's also a lot of total meh. So what I did in my notes was to put a star next to the track that I thought sounded good enough to be worthy of further consideration and possibly even eventually buy something by that artist. Therefore, there are two ratings for each album. The first will be presented as a ratio, for example, 3/13, which would mean 3 starred tracks out of 13 total tracks in that collection. The second is an overall album rating on a scale from 0 to 5 (based on an average system of my own devise, with 0 meaning a track got deleted and 5 being almost impossible to attain--anything that reaches 3 or even rounds off to 3 means I think overall it's pretty good).

Badman: 4/12. Overall: 2.2. Mostly folky alt rock, but not especially remarkable.
Starred artists/groups: lanterna, Starf*cker, James William Hindle, Mark Mallman.

Deep Elm: 5/16. Overall: 2.3. A mix of country-ish rock and Americana.
Starred artists/groups: Ride Your Bike, Desoto Jones, Moving Mountains, 500 Miles to Memphis, Track A Tiger.

Panda: 7/16. Overall: 2.8. An overall rating of 2.8 puts this one fairly high up on this particular scale (trust me). This is a good one. I think that it's not longer free, but it is available and really cheap, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes that music that wanders across the genres of Americana and folky countryish rock.
Starred artists/groups: Josh Moore (has a Toad the Wet Sprocket flavor), Pasadena, J.R. Rund and the Holdup, Gasoline Heart (lead singer sounds like Springsteen, but don't hold that against him), Damion Suomi.

The End: 7/16. Overall: 2.7. Another fairly high overall rating makes this an interesting collection, at least for me. The End Records apparently specializes in metal of all sorts, and I found it an interesting exercise to look up all the sub-genres that these groups are categorized in and see how the metal genre has exploded since the mid-80s. Another one I would recommend for anyone who wants a snapshot overview of many of the different sounds that all fall under the "metal" genre. I especially enjoy the tracks that fall under what is called "power ambient" or "drone metal." It's like darkwave (or dark ambient) that has been supercharged with the energy and instrumentation of metal. These groups are bolded below. Unforunately this sampler is no longer available.
Starred artists/groups: Lordi, Nadja, Jarboe, Aqua de Annique, Ulver, Agolloch, Kosmos.

Vanguard: 4/5. Overall: 3.6. A small but excellent sampler of Americana music. Unfortunately no longer available.
Starred artists/groups: Matt Nathanson, The Watson Twins, The Duhks, Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson (wife & husband duo).

Naxos: 12/12. Overall: 4. A "4" means get this one by all means. This is a collection of very early music, both choral and instrumental, and if you like very early music then you will love this collection. It's still available, and it's still free.

Alive: 0/8. Overall: 1. Total meh. None of them actually deleted but just forget about this one. Alive Records publishes "lo-fi" music that sounds quite raw and unpolished, but that isn't what I hold against them. The songs themselves are just nothing to get excited about.

Anti: 11/13. Overall: 3.6. The overall rating from this one suffered because of one deleted track: a rap piece by NASA. Other than that this is a really good collection of alt rock. No longer available.
Starred artists/groups: Neko Case, Booker T., Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Jason Lytle, Bob Mould, Westbound Train, William Elliot Whitmore, Bettye Lavette, Michael Franti, Mavis Staples, Jolie Holland.

Arts & Crafts: 5/15. Overall: 2.4. A mostly mediocre collection of alt rock. Still available but now costs $8.99.
Starred artists/groups: Gentleman Reg, Amy Millan, Timber Timer, The Bell Orchestre, Charles Spearin.

Barsuk: 2/8. Overall: 1.8. More alt rock, and not a very good collection in my opinion.
Starred artists/groups: Rah Rah Riot, Mates of State.

Album count: 614.

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