November 29, 2007

Breaking Out: Their First Major Release

Everyone gets a break, and it's especially cool when an artist breaks out into the playing field with a major record. I don't think of signing onto a major record label as selling out for an artist. Like the rest of us, they're working a regular job - it's just more visible to us. Whether that major record is good or not varies, but there are major records out there that are good. *gasp* The whole sell-out thing is just a way to pretentious for no real reason, good or otherwise.

Anyhow, here's a couple of records that landed bands on a major record label that are quite good.

Indian Summer - Carbon Leaf

This 2004 album was Carbon Leaf's fifth, but their first major record label with Vangard Records and represents some of their best work since their last independent album, Echo Echo. The album takes much of the energy and all of the songwriting skills from that prior album, and brings a more mainstream sound to the table, one that is quite good, compared to some of their older works, although I count Echo Echo as one of their finest albums. This major release helped bring Carbon Leaf to greater attention and publicity. Their follow up album, Love Loss Hope Repeat was also on Vanguard Records.

This Is My Song – Carbon Leaf
One Prairie Outpost – Carbon Leaf

This Is Somewhere - Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

This is Somewhere is the third album by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and like Indian Summer, it brought a more mainstream rock sound to Grace Potter's repertoire. Her prior albums, Original Soul and Nothing But Water both had distinct sounds, and this one is no different. The mainstream sound here is among their best sounds thus far with a fantastic sound.

Falling Or Flying – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
Mastermind – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

The Crane Wife - The Decemberists

The Decemberists likewise had a number of independent albums prior to this release, all of which were a fairly acquired taste. This album really was the one that turned me onto their sound, which brings their interesting sound in line and which also brings their phenomenal songwriting skills to bear with several fantastic long songs. This album also brought the band quite a bit of acclaim and media recognition.

O Valencia!
– The Decemberists
The Crane Wife 3 – The Decemberists

The Animal Years - Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter’s highly acclaimed album, The Animal Years was the first major release from Josh Ritter after a couple of independent albums. Like the other albums above, this release helped bring in line his prior sound to a more mainstream sound, but one that likewise didn’t sacrifice the songwriting or tone and feel of the music.

Good Man – Josh Ritter
Wolves – Josh Ritter

A Series of Sneaks – Spoon

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Not all major releases help their artists in question. Spoon’s first major release, A Series of Sneaks, came shortly after their first album. The band signed on to Elektra Records and released the album to moderate critical acclaim and was an overall financial failure for the band. Quality-wise, the album is also far below what the band had come up with before. After their first experience with a major record label, they went back to the indie route – and they’ve remained there since, releasing several much better and more highly acclaimed albums.

Advance CassetteSpoon
Car Radio – Spoon

Hype - Buy