Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Live Bowie Tops This Week's New Releases

I'm going to recommend two new releases this week. The first is David Bowie's live double album 'A Reality Tour'. Although last decade Bowie's input was minimal, both studio albums marked quite a comeback. I didn't get the opportunity to see him on this 2004 tour in support of 'Reality'. Having purchased 'A Reality Tour' today, it's obvious I missed out. Bowie reinvented some of my best-loved songs from his catalog -- including "Loving The Alien", "Five Years" and "Life On Mars?" -- and I also got my first stage listens to about a dozen great songs from those two records from the 2000s. The other important aspect to remember with this tour is that it could be his last. Bowie had heart problems during this tour that led to surgery and an abrupt end to the shows. He hasn't toured in the six or so years since. The instrumentation is a bit sparse, and I'm finding this sound refreshing. Bowie's vocals really stand out.

As far as format is concerned, I will almost always recommend buying a physical copy of a record (vinyl if possible, then CD), but I went a different route with 'A Reality Tour'. There are 33 songs on the two discs, but you get two bonus tracks if you purchase it as a download from iTunes. In cases like this, I still would usually go with the CD, but one of the bonus tracks is "Days", my absolute favorite Bowie song of the last 20 years. That clinched it for me. In hindsight, I wish I had bought the CD from Amazon for $12.99 and purchased the two iTunes bonus tracks at 99 cents each. When excluding shipping, it would have been cheaper than the $16.99 I paid for the 35 songs on iTunes. Besides, I always spend at least $25 a pop at Amazon to get the free shipping anyway. Bottom line: If you love Bowie, you should buy this one in any format. I just wanted you to think about your options.

David Bowie - Days (Live) (mp3)

The second recommendation I have is Beach House's 'Teen Dream'. Sub Pop's dynamic duo has assembled the best album of their three album dream-pop career, and its most accessible. Although I do not fit into this category, I get the argument that their first two albums were difficult to sit down and listen to from beginning to end unless you were in the right sort of mood. For those that fall into this camp, believe it when I write this is not a problem with 'Teen Dream'. I don't envy the label rep who has to pick the singles from this one. They all sound like indie hits. It's only January, but I expect this one to show up near the top of my best of 2010 list come December. Everyone should pay a visit to the new Beach House.

Beach House - Lover of Mine (mp3)

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