Thursday, July 31, 2008

Buy the New Walkmen Album or PEOPLE WILL DIE

In the age of digital music it's becoming harder and harder to establish the monetary value of the CD. Sales are in a free fall and distribution options are so cheap and abundant (MySpace, Amazon, iTunes,, iLike, etc.) that people expect music to be given away, or, at the very least, extremely cheap. So, what's a band to do if they want to release an album out into the wild, but don't want a bunch of freeloaders downloading it for nothing? Donate all the proceeds to charity, of course.

That's exactly what The Walkmen did earlier this week when they made their fourth studio album (I don't count Pussy Cats, since it was a cover album) You & Me available for download (DRM-free, naturally) so long as fans were willing to pony up a $5 donation to benefit the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Considering not one cent of the donation goes to the band, you could still say this album was given away for "free". At least that's how I choose to view it.

So, donating money towards cancer research is a nice gesture, but what about the music? I'm a tad biased since I love the Walkmen and think all their albums are great, so my opinion is generally inclined to giving them the benefit of the doubt right off the bat. Upon first listen, I'm literally through nine of the fourteen songs as I write this, it seems a bit more focused than their last effort (which I still liked). More of a mix between the shimmering melancholic guitar drone of Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone and the Americana rhythmic sound of A Hundred Miles Off. Not a leap forward, but definitely a noticeable refinement of the band's signature sound, which I think is more indicative of how they come off in a live setting (which is a treat to see, BTW).

I will give you a taste below, but that's all you're gonna get because cancer patients are depending on you, dammit. Seriously though, it's only a measly $5 donation. Don't be a cheapskate and buy the damn thing if you actually like it.

The Walkmen - "In the New Year" (from You & Me)

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