Brad Skistimas isn't the world's first internet star, but the man behind Five Times August
has certainly successfully used the web to his own ends, catapulting himself to fame through its intricate networks. The singer/songwriter self-released his self-produced Fry Street
album through digital music sites in 2005, pumped up his profile via MySpace, and took his show on the road, swiftly becoming a darling of MTV, who gave many of the set's songs plump placement on a variety of their shows. Two years on and Skistimas has finally decided to make the album available on CD, but in case fans think he's selling out at all, he puts their fears to rest, titling the remixed and remastered The Independent
. Why bother? Not everyone downloads their music, and there's a certain beauty in physically holding music in one's hand. Still, in acknowledgement of his digital fans, the new set adds three bonus tracks to the original album, along with a second, free bonus disc. That latter features all acoustic numbers, recorded in 2005, many of which were subsequently plumped up with instrumentation for Fry Street
. Stripping them down to their "unplugged" origins bares their stark beauty, and many fans may come to prefer their immediacy and, at times, raw excitement, less obvious on their fuller, more polished album counterparts. Another plus, the booklet contains a trio of striking photographs and lyrics, the latter, of course, particularly of interest to fans. Skistimas' atmosphere are mostly dreamy, even such upbeat numbers as "The Way You Do" and "So Typical" have a languid tinge to the atmospheres, while emotions ripple through, highlighting the intensity of his lyrics. Sure, you've heard most of these songs before, but not sounding as great as they do here. This is an old album made totally new.