As I’m sure you’ve heard, Apple made a big announcement, and once again the world collectively flipped out. People are lusting after two new iPhones and an iWatch, among other pieces of magic that were revealed. Because this isn’t a tech site, I’m not going to go into all of the details and my general (lack of) excitement about them. No, what I want to talk about is the little “added bonus” that came along with the announcement. Specifically, every single person who is on iTunes or has an iTunes account now has the new U2 record Songs of Innocence in their libraries. This was a record we didn’t know was coming, though U2 have been in the studio for a long while and were said to be debating when and where to release their new music. I guess we know the answer now – for free on iTunes. Actually, a physical version of the album will be available for purchase in October, should you be so inclined. But why would you when 500 million of your closest friends now all have personal copies they can just burn to CD or upload to their music player of choice? My thoughts on this promotional stunt are varied, so let me try to break it down as best as possible. Upon first learning I was given a new U2 record for free, my initial reaction was excitement. Not jumping up and down excitement, but more the sort like if somebody handed you $10 on the street and told you to enjoy it. I smiled, nodded, and said, “Aw, that was nice.” My reaction shortly after that was light outrage. I wanted to know how this album had been uploaded to my “cloud” without my permission. I’m sure in Apple’s Terms of Service they claim they’re allowed to do whatever they want with your account, but it almost feels like some privacy elements might have been violated. If the cloud really is so safe and secure, especially in the wake of the celebrity phone hacking scandal, then dropping a new U2 album into everyone’s libraries might imply otherwise. After I was done being outraged, my next emotion was sadness, specifically for U2. They’re all millionaires several times over and don’t need the financial windfall (or lack of one judging by album sales these days) that can come from putting new music in stores, but shouldn’t the acquisition of their new album be a choice? It seems to me that Bono and the boys insisted that choice shouldn’t exist. You’ll get the album whether you like it or not, though I suppose you don’t have to listen to it. But in their seemingly endless quest to be the world’s biggest rock band and expose themselves to the widest audience possible, giving away an album to iTunes users reeks of desperation. They knew they would never get this sort of exposure or publicity through any other means so it’s also very smart, but mostly it’s just sad. Now they’ll get to go on tour in support of the album and make another boatload of cash from that. I suppose the larger question that needs to be asked is this: Has recorded music reached such a point of devaluation that one of the biggest bands in the world is comfortable with just giving it away for free? That’s not something I want to dig into right now, because it’s time for another edition of Pick Your Poison, in which I also just give away a bunch of music for free. None of these bands are U2, but many are worthwhile anyways. Don’t miss tracks in this set from Applebottom, Flatbush Zombies & Trash Talk, Fool’s Gold, Glyphs, Grouper, Noire and Ruane Maurice. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Azar Swan, Blonde Elvis, Girlpool, Itasca, Operators, SBTRKT (ft. A$AP Ferg) and WATERS.

The Acid – Fame (Lovers Anonymous Remix)

Applebottom – Acting Kool

Flatbush Zombies & Trash Talk – Modern Mayhem

Fool’s Gold – I’m In Love

Glyphs – Shed Skin

Grouper – Call Across Rooms

Gwyneth Moreland – Pine Box Sailor

Noire – Those Days

Nooch – How Real (ft. Paul Wall)

Ruane Maurice – Lakes

Stillwave – Rich Ones (Jor Mesin Remix)

Wave Sleep Wave – Swan


Azar Swan – For Last and Forever

Blonde Elvis – Slow Fall On Egypt

Girlpool – Jane

Itasca – After Dawn

Operators – Start Again

SBTRKT – Voices in My Head (ft. A$AP Ferg)

WATERS – I Feel Everything