Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another Dark Day for The Album

Bad news to all you audiophiles in cyberspace: it's another sad day for The Album. Yes, that's right... in case you didn't think the cross-marketing swoop of ringtone culture or ADD blog habits were enough to crush the ambitious Album, that almighty record where each song plays to the greater good of a whole, original music experience: let this be another nail in the coffin.

Sometime in the past two days, Bradford Cox (AKA Atlas Sound, AKA lead singer of Deerhunter) uploaded one of his free-to-own digital EPs from his band blog for mass consumption. This generosity is entirely common to the fans who've followed him, as Cox has released at least one hundred free downloads - some of which are demos, most being fully produced and finished songs - to anyone with a free minute to take them. (In an unnecessary aside, he's the nicest rock star I've ever come across; super-polite, talkative, and lacking any of the too-cool-for-thou attitude we've all witnessed most times we enter a venue.) Anyway, when Cox took time out of his day to post another free Virtual 7" EP onto the well-known MediaFire file-sharing website, he didn't think to lock his MediaFire account. This meant that when crafty fans downloaded the Virtual 7" EP, they could also creep around his account and steal a surprise bonus CD that was bound for release with Deerhunter's October follow-up Microcastle (which, so you know, already leaked to internet weeks ago). Because of one person's need to, not only steal songs but, post this material on Radiohead's super-popular fan-site At Ease Web, a place where most in-the-know indie-kids find the top album leaks, Deerhunter have been robbed of their unmastered gift to fans (Weird Era Cont.) as well as Cox's own Atlas Sound follow-up (Logos). Sure, they still have the song rights but when you work hard on new material and one day find that everyone owns it - in demo and unmastered quality, at that - it reduces the creative thunder that makes being a recording artist worthwhile. Cox is considering letting Logos go now; no completing unfinished tracks, no album artwork, no release date. Just scrapping the whole thing. And who can blame him?

The leak was his fault; he knows it and has admitted so on his blog. Still, with Deerhunter and Atlas Sound both releasing some groundbreaking work in the past two years, I can't help but think we're losing out when all we have to show for a quick illegal download is an unfinished album. Cox says Microcastle (and its bonus disc) would've been a great Fall record; maybe I'm the only one who believes in that anymore. Ah well, God rest The Album.

The following are several mini-albums and EPs self-released by Atlas Sound through 2007-2008. All of which can be found and legally downloaded for free here.

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