Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Digs: Crimes

Wow. i don't think i've ever been more excited about the direction that music is moving than i have been over the last couple weeks. With the end of the year nearing, i've been goin' through the albums i've picked up in '08 (somewhere around 30), and deciding where they might fit into a best of the year list. i can tell you right now, i'm gonna have a hell of time finalizing that list. Lately, my yearning for new music has led me to lose my former obsession with owning an actual hard copy of the albums, so i've been keeping my digital music accounts filled with money to dish out in favor of instant-gratification. eMusic,, and most recently Amie Street are the sites i've found with the best deals for finding new music - and between the three, you can find nearly anyone you're looking for.

i picked up Old Crow Medicine Show's new one at Amie Street for only 5 bucks the other day and as a bonus, was able to download the tracks a day before the actual album release. The discount price was only available as a pre-order, but the album is a mere $8.98 now. Amie Street prices their music on a demand basis - that is, each time an album is downloaded, the price goes up - albums cap out at $8.98. The beauty of this system is that if you're quick to jump on an album shortly after it's added, you can get for nearly nothing. i'm talkin' like 18 cents a song... but don't tell anybody.

These United States ~ Crimes (Sept 23)

"if the thing that drives you onward is your heart, you must not let that engine die"

After my first purchase, i still had some money in my account so i went a-browsin'. One of the featured albums on the site was a brand new one from Lexington, KY band These United States. i came across a couple of the band's tunes from their previous release, A Picture of the Three of Us at the Gate to the Garden of Eden, earlier this year and posted one here. Both songs were very interesting, musically, but i didn't really think the band fit my preferred style quite right. Regardless, i began previewing the songs on their new one, Crimes. Before the 2nd track preview had ended, the album was in my library - and for only 5 bucks. By now i've had time to hear the whole thing a couple times through.... and it's flawless. Not one song on the disc can be considered skippable or superfluous.

The greatest appeal of Crimes is that the album is pure fun. Jangly power-pop with country/folk undertones - especially lyrically. Well-formed verses, often historically tinted, that lead into huge sing-along choruses. The album begins with a groovy, acoustic-led tune mentioning Cain & Abel and Dionysus and their respective vices. The next two tracks - full-on, energetic rockers - don't even allow you to completely realize the beauty of what you just heard. Sometime during Pleasure & Pain & Pride & Me you become aware that you're in the midst of a great album. Perfectly mixed tempos scatter throughout the rest of the disc - from soulful ballads to near honky-tonk anthems. Will Sheff-like driving melodies are accented with barroom pianos, shakers, tambourines, and even a banjo. Jesse Elliot, the voice of These United States, leads you through this journey of Crimes - "the Good kinds, the Bad kinds, the Meaningless, the Historic."

These United States - West Won
These United States - Heaven Can Wait

Go to Amie Street to buy this album ($5)
These United States: MySpace/Website

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