You too had U2 in your iTunes library

The value of music is put in question when U2 gave their album away for free

iTunes had to publish an entire article dedicated to the steps describing how to remove U2’s new album, Songs of Innocence, from your iTunes library. You can sense something went terribly wrong.

The renowned Irish rockers released their 13th studio album, Songs of Innocence, to immense backlash. The album, which was available digitally on Apple platforms Sept. 9, is still sparking discussion surrounding the method of its distribution. Upon its release, the album was exclusively available to all iTunes customers, and was directly downloaded to their music libraries as a “gift” from the company and the band.

Today, digital downloads are seemingly the preferred method of consuming music. iTunes, as a digital music platform, dominates the digital music industry. It seems only logical that a band such as U2, who have had connections with Apple and iTunes in the past, would want to take full advantage of the benefits of an exclusive digital release. However, writers and musicians alike have brought up problems with this method.

Patrick Carney of The Black Keys (in an interview with The Seattle Times) and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd (in an interview with Rolling Stone) agreed that by releasing their music for free, it was sending a message to other bands and the public that the album somehow has no value. This is very problematic, as musicians should be supporting each other and helping to remind the public that their work is valuable. Their music is their career. Their music is their livelihood.

Bono, the lead singer of U2, revealed in a Facebook interview a few reasons for why the band chose to “generously” give back. He bizarrely suggested that the iTunes release was partially out of “deep fear that these songs that we poured our life into over the last few years might not be heard.” This sounds utterly appalling coming from a band who have sold over 150 million records and who have won more Grammy awards than any other band in history.

To think they could justify forcing their album on consumers out of fear it wouldn’t be heard is completely outrageous. Generous intentions aside, not every band can have the luxury of giving away their music for free. It would seem likely that every musician or artist in the world lives in fear that his or her hard work won’t be seen or appreciated, but then again, that is life.

If something is worth being listened to or watched or experienced, the public will find it. They will do whatever they can to seek it out, whether that means waiting in a line up outside of a record store, or risking illegal downloading. Sure, Songs of Innocence was downloaded and listened to and enjoyed by millions of fans. Yet, it is unfortunate to think that these musicians arrived at a point where they had “poured [their] life” into their work, and still they weren’t even able to give it away.


Quickspins + Retroview

Plants and Animals – The End of That (Secret City Records; 2012)

Montreal rockers Plants and Animals return with a more stripped-down sound on their third full-length album The End of That. Unlike their previous records, this album leaves behind the realm of orchestral psychedelia for a more mellowed out sound with hints of early 1970’s rock ‘n’ roll. Lyrically, the record finds the band dwelling on times past, loves lost and the difficulties of adulthood. From his Lou Reed-esque cadence in “The End of That,” to the no holds barred wail of “Lightshow,” vocalist Warren Spicer demonstrates his ability to use his voice as an extra instrument, greatly adding to the overall effect. Even so, while still featuring some solid tunes, it gets lost somewhere around the halfway mark with the last four tracks melding into one big rock anthem.

Rating: 6.0/10

Trial track: “The End of That”

– Cora Ballou

Field Music – Plumb (Memphis Industries; 2012)

I feel it is my duty to warn you that Plumb may possibly be too wacky for public consumption.
The fourth studio effort from Sunderland natives Peter and David Brewis is a progressive pop-rock frenzy. With 15 tracks crammed into 35 minutes, there is an indelible sense that these songs were constructed by someone with a seriously short attention span. Best described as a collection of half-congealed ideas piled on top of each other, with hooks that rise but then are quickly discarded, this album is nothing more than an unmemorable mess.
It’s a shame, because the Brewis brothers seem to have a real knack for writing quirky, hooky little numbers. There were moments when I decided that Field Music may, in fact, be Queen’s long-lost hipster nephew. With a little Ritalin and some production assistance, there may still be hope for these boys to become more than just a silly novelty.

Rating: 4.0/10

Trial track: “A New Town”

– Paul Traunero

Farewell Republic – Burn the Boats (Unsigned; 2012)

Farewell Republic’s debut brings a new addition to the post-punk scene. Hailing from Brooklyn, N.Y., the group has put out their 11-track record, Burn the Boats, available on Bandcamp.
Sivan Jacobovitz and Brian Trahan make up the permanent members, while a rotating cast of live and session musicians aid in creating the musical landscape that is illustrated on the album.
The music has an almost film-soundtrack quality in its composition. However, the sheer chaos, which would make an excellent backdrop to an art-house film, becomes quickly draining, almost numbing the senses. The listener’s ears bleed at times from the sound generated from the noise of layered guitar feedback. Even the dissonance is reflected in the album cover’s imagery.
However, there is still hope for the band, that once they mature, their narrative voice and artistic vision will no longer be lost in the white noise. Hopefully then it will enjoyable.

Rating: 3.0/10

Trial track: “Wake”

– A.J. Cordeiro

U2 – The Joshua Tree (Island Records; 1987)

When I think of the best rock album, I think of The Joshua Tree, U2’s fifth album that has earned itself a spot among the best albums ever made in the history of music, up there with Abbey Road and The Wall. The Joshua Tree was released in 1987 and was immediately acclaimed as the album that transformed U2 from great to superstars. Just naming the classics on this CD makes me shiver: “With or Without You,” “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” and there are so many more. The songs on this album are what make thousands of people wait days to see U2. The Joshua Tree encompasses so many real emotions and it has touched many around the world.

Trial track: “Where the Streets Have No Name”

– George Menexis

Exit mobile version