There’s something about smart marketing that I love and I think that hip hop artists are best at self-marketing themselves as brands. You see, in-between albums they do these mixtapes. Sort of like a throwback to the early days of rap when the only way to get your name out there was to push yourself with an actually cassette tape. Not all, but many artists do this and they throw them up either on their site or on Dat Piff and the Internet goes crazy. Usually sites will crash or it’ll take about an hour longer than it should to download the songs.
I’ve never understood why artists from other genres don’t do the same thing. For instance, the Avett Brothers went into their last recording session with 24 songs ready they said. Why not take five or six of the lesser songs and drop an EP for free on Noise Trade like a lot of up and coming artists do? Theophilus London was getting endorsement deals before his first record had even dropped. There were billboards of him from Bing and Mountain Dew before his label had made a dime off his record and when it did drop it took off still. It is a great way to build a fan base and also give your fans treats, if you will. Well, maybe Indie artists are wising up, because Matt Pond just released a free five song EP, The Natural Lines, on Noise Trade when his album is set to be released next month and it is remarkable.
It’s all acoustic with Pond singing in a style reminiscent of Jim Croce and the Shins (circa “New Slang”) combined. It’s poignant and subtle without being overproduced or cliché. Songs like “Hole in my Heart” are hard to come by and yet there is an ease with which Pond seems to release the emotion that is emitted from the lyrics. A pain that is told with such perfect lyrical imagery is damn near impossible and never for free.
Yet, Pond did something absolutely brilliant. He gave himself some free publicity with a five song EP that manages to be a primer to Lines in Your Hand his ninth full album since 1998. This is a prolific artist with a great deal still to say and if The Natural Lines is merely an appetizer to what the Lines in Your Hand can be I’m expecting some mother fucking filet mignon shit because this is a magnificent EP.