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Coldplay: LeftRightLeftRightLeft

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"Man, we put in more rehearsal for this album than any other, because we played it live 101 times before we released it. Talk about road-testing material," said frontman Chris Martin on the band's Web site. You've got to hand it to Coldplay that not only can they write some captivating songs, they can also deliver on a live performance. Furthermore, despite these Brits being world superstars, they've managed to keep a handle on their music. There's something commendable about a mainstream band refusing Gap the rights to their songs. So when they release a live album as a free download on their Web site, it's worth a listen.

LeftRightLeftRightLeft captures that quality about Coldplay that's given them global appeal. The songs, many of them from last summer's Viva La Vida, are in the trademark emotional explorations of Chris Martin, winsome without bordering too far into unbelievability. Coldplay's particular brand of alternative rock is minimalistic in nature, both full and sparse at times, making for some great song dynamics. The album features the untold thousands singing along or clapping in unison--a snapshot of standing in the crowd. On the set list, Coldplay classic "Clocks" makes an appearance, along with "42," an eerie melody morphing into a sarcastic and progressive chorus of "You thought you might be a ghost / you never got to heaven but you made it close." The title song "Viva La Vida" breaks the sometimes subdued setting with energetic string-inspired melodies. Another song on the list, "Strawberry Swing," is set to be released as a music video later this summer.

While live albums can have a bad rep for being filler material to boost CD sales, Coldplay attempts to take turn this cliche around. "And although it's live, it's supposed to be a real album, part of our canon. Y'know, as well as being a gift move, it is also a musical move. It's meant to say that this is what we sound like at the moment," said Martin.

Download at Coldplay coldplay.com.

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