What better way to close out the old year and bring in the new than with Lykke Li, The xx, Big Troubles and Lowry? Naught that I can think of. Except maybe getting blasted with confetti and dancing the night away. But hey, maybe these tunes will help kick you into the mood to ring in the new year right. See you in 2012!
1. Lykke Li - The Lost Sessions Vol. 1
(click to download)
Special 3-Song Collection
Swedish pop singer Lykke Li has rapidly risen to indie pop stardom this past year with her sophomore album, Wounded Rhymes, which was released in March. And as catchy as her songs are, if you've been listening to them for the past nine months, chances are that maybe you'd welcome a different take on them. On Lykke Li's website, you can download a free copy of The Lost Sessions Vol. 1, featuring alternate takes for Wounded Rhymes.
The first volume of The Lost Sessions includes "I Follow Rivers," "Jerome," and "Youth Knows No Pain." On her site, Lykke writes by way of introduction, "I'd thought I'd give you this to put in your little players, either stick it in your ears or play it loud when the lights are low, mind weary and days rainy." These takes are definitely more subdued than the versions that ended up on the album, slowed down and stripped down for a more lo-fi, acoustic sound. If you like this version of Lykke, she invites you to "maybe send it like a little gift or a kindly flu filled kiss." Because her music is infectious? Clever.
2. The xx - "Open Eyes (Demo)"
(free download from artist website)
Way back when in 2010, I played The xx's debut album so much that I had to put away the album for fear of melting the CD. Thankfully, for fans as zealous as myself, a new xx album is just around the corner. "Open Eyes" is our first taste of what will be the band's sophomore effort. This new demo is extremely minimal and bare but just as intimate as their previous work. The xx's untitled second album is slated to be released sometime in 2012.
3. Big Troubles - "She Smiles for Pictures"
(free download from Soundcloud)
LP: Romantic Comedy
Alex Craig and Ian Drennan make up Big Troubles, the duo who have concocted the messy fun of "She Smiles for Pictures." Their garage-y power-pop blended with breathy, harmonized vocals takes you back to the excitement of the mid-1990s alternative scene. At moments they sound like poppy Olivia Tremor Control or a more energetic Elliott Smith, bright enough to be radio-ready but also intricate enough for the more dedicated music lovers. "She Smiles for Pictures" is the second single from their album Romantic Comedy. Learn more here!
4. Lowry - Emporia
(free download from artist website with email)
Lowry's new album Emporia is available for free on their website. This is their first since 2008's Love Is Dead. In those three years, their sound has become more mature and they've produced a stronger album. Radiohead-like arrangements are met with rootsy instrumentation in songs that remind me a little of The Long Winters and The Arcade Fire, but mostly Lowry. They're coming into their own on this album and it's all yours for a mere email address.