Last year, I celebrated my discovery of Lala and then, a few months later, I lamented the end of the service. Well, it took over a year, but finally there's a legitimate substitute.
Spotify, launched in Sweden in 2008, became available to U.S. customers—without requiring an invitation—in the past few months.
Spotify requires a software installation, whereas Lala was web-based, and it doesn't make finding quality new releases as easy as Lala did, but it has one major advantage. Where Lala only allowed users one free listen to each song, Spotify allows unlimited previews.
So, if you're already a Spotify user, or you're interested in checking it out, the links to each of these albums would be a good place to start, as far as I'm concerned.
Beirut - The Rip Tide
An eclectic indie band that uses horns as an integral part of their sound? Seems like a Neutral Milk Hotel comparison is in order. But, those characteristics are where the comparisons end. This album is melodic orchestral indie pop at its best.
Bon Iver - Bon Iver
Add these versatile indie-folksters to the long list of artists whose first albums didn't hook me, but whose second completely reeled me in.
Centro-Matic - Candidate Waltz
As prolific a songwriter as Centro-Matic front-man Will Johnson has been over the years, it's kind of surprising this is the first album by his main band in five years. It's a short set—only 33 minutes total—but its brevity ensures it does not wear out its welcome, and despite the gap between releases, this one was well worth the wait.
Death Cab for Cutie - Codes and Keys
At $8.24 on eMusic, this is one of the more expensive albums I've purchased in a while. Because the price represents almost half my monthly subscription, and considering I wasn't blown away by my first few listens, I almost passed on this one. I'm glad I changed my mind.
Gillian Welch - The Harrow & The Harvest
Welch's appearance on The Decemberists' The King is Dead earlier this year was a bit of an appetizer for the release of her first album since 2003. Her return is a welcome one, although this record falls far short of my favorite material of hers.