Above: Video for "ÜBerlin" from R.E.M.'s "Collapse Into Now," which is streaming online until its release on March 8th.
There's a great selection of free album previews online this week, led by the first new R.E.M. album in years—and many are calling it their best in more than a decade and a half. Also: new albums by Exene Cervenka, Dropkick Murphys, and Minuteman co-founder Mike Watt.
Here's a sampling of what's streaming right now; as always, check out each site for the full selection of free album previews available.
NPR First Listen:
* "Collapse Into Now" by R.E.M. (streaming until March 8, its release date)—this is said to be their best release since "New Adventures in Hi-Fi," which was the last R.E.M. album that I enjoyed all the way through
* "All Eternals Deck" by The Mountain Goats (streaming until March 29)—I haven't liked everything this band has done, but am always willing to give them a try
* "Smoke Ring For My Halo" by Kurt Vile (streaming until March 8)—I've only heard a few songs from this singer-songwriter from Philly; this will be a good chance to listen to get a feel for his work
* "Different Gear, Still Speeding" by Beady Eye (streaming until March 24)—first album from the new group featuring Oasis singer Liam Gallagher and several other members of the band
* "The Excitement of Maybe" by Exene Cervenka (streaming until March 29)—the latest solo album from the co-founder of the legendary L.A. punk band X
Spinner.com's Listening Party has albums including:
* "Volume 2 - High and Inside" by The Baseball Project—the second album by the baseball-themed band that includes indie rock all-stars Craig Finn (The Hold Steady), Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), and Ira Kaplan (Yo la Tengo).
* "Going Out in Style" by Dropkick Murphys—the latest effort from the Celtic-meets-punk band
* "Long Player Late Bloomer" by Ron Sexsmith—he's a singer-songwriter, but not always a folkie, and this new album is produced by Bob Rock (known for his work with Metallica)
* "The Valley" by Eisley—glad to see a new disc by this brothers-and-sisters folk/pop band
* "hyphenated-man" by Mike Watt—the latest album by the bassist and co-founder of The Minutemen and fIREHOSE
AOL Music Listening Party has album previews including:
* "Original Sin" by INXS—the '80s and '90s hitmakers do an album of their own tunes as a tribute to their late singer, Michael Hutchence. Features guest vocals by Rob Thomas, Ben Harper, John Mayer, and more