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5 Albums to Stream for Free This Week: Cool Kids, Crystal Antlers

Over the weekend, we read an interesting and rather sensible opinion piece about the record industry’s recent false dawn — basically, the gist of the article was that a slight increase in record sales of late doesn’t in any way change the fact that the major labels’ redundant business model is still on its way down the shitter. Or, as the author put it, “we live in a streaming world.” And on that note, here’s our selection of five of the best albums streaming on the web this week, all for absolutely no money at all. Yay!

The Cool Kids — When Fish Ride Bicycles

BMX-lovin’ Chicago hip hop duo The Cool Kids are back with their second album When Fish Ride Bicycles, which is out tomorrow. The record’s full of the same loping beats and laconic drawling that characterized their awesome Totally Flossed Out mixtape and “proper” debut The Bake Sale, and the inevitable roll call of guest stars includes Ghostface Killah, Pharrell, and, um, Travis Barker. The album is streaming via Facebook — you’ll need to “like” the record company’s page to have a listen (and if you’ve managed to avoid membership of the social media juggernaut all this time, we’ve found an alternative link for you here).

Crystal Antlers — Two-Way Mirror

If you’re after something a bit more bracing to blow away the cobwebs on a Monday morning, you might be in the market for a blast of the new Crystal Antlers album Two-Way Mirror, which is out on Tuesday July 19 and streaming in full via Grooveshark. The album isn’t nearly as coruscating as its predecessor Tentacles, but there’s still enough fuzzed-out guitars and shouty vocals to obviate the need to go and get another coffee.

Cut Off Your Hands — Hollow

We’re heading all the way across the Pacific now, to take in the new release from most excellent New Zealand four-piece Cut Off Your Hands, whose lush, jangly indie is distinctly reminiscent of the work of countrymen like Tall Dwarves and The Clean. Their new album Hollow is out this week, and we’ve found a stream of it via the New Zealand Herald. It’s well worth a listen if you’re in any way partial to classic indie pop sounds.

Grooms — Prom

Closer to home, another guitar-wielding late ’80s/ early ’90s inspired band have an album out this week — Brooklyn trio Grooms, who have an admirable degree of love for The Smiths, although their sound is somewhat darker and heavier than that of their idols, with thundering basslines and the occasional genuine guitar freak-out.Their new album is called Prom, and it’s streaming at Spinner.

R.E.M. — Lifes Rich Pageant (remastered)

And finally, back to the ’80s for real this time. For old R.E.M. fans like us, the ongoing reissuing of the band’s back catalog is cause for celebration. Last time round it was our very favorite ’80s R.E.M. record, Fables of the Reconstruction, and this week it’s their fourth album Lifes Rich Pageant [sic] that gets the deluxe reissue love. This was the album where Michael Stipe suddenly found his voice, moving his vocals front and center in the mix and abandoning the ambiguous mumbling that characterized earlier records for a new, more direct vocal style, a move echoed by brighter production and Peter Buck’s more confident guitar playing. The remastered album tracks — along with a bunch of unreleased demos that are fascinating listening for completists — are streaming via Spin’s website.

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