It's another fantastic week of album releases, you'll surely agree, highlighted by familiar names and--even more excitingly--non-famous names paying tribute to famous names! If I were the cynical sort, I'd hint that the music industry seems to steadily be taking a course directly up its underside--but, of course, I'm not cynical at all. In fact, I'm half-Italian and half-Irish--and the biggest fan of today's biggest hit makers that you'll ever encounter! Read on and see!
Crowded House: Time On Earth (ATO) Few suspected that this much-loved band would ever reunite and make another record, but son of a gun, they did--and it's not bad at all! Filled to the brim with the melody and occasional melancholia that made such hits as "Don't Dream It's Over" the hits they deserved to be, Crowded House's first album since 1996 is out this week! Added bonus: It's Beatle-esque!
Interpol: Our Love To Admire (Capitol) When it comes to bands with names that command respect, Interpol may even surpass the Police! No longer the new kids on the block, these East Cost rockers have put their money where their mouth is and released an album that is striking for its cover art! Catchy songs? Oops, I thought you were gonna write 'em! Added bonus: It's Joy Division-esque!
Mike Jones: The American Dream (Ice Age Entertainment/Asylum/Warner): Only a few years ago people were asking themselves "Who is Mike Jones?" Now, this superstar rapper's got an album that shares the title of a brand new movie he's featured in! Some have suggested it'll be a gala sci-fi epic in which Mike wakes up one morning to discover that, incredibly, America in fact never existed! It was fake! Still others have suggested they still want to know who Mike Jones is, only...not quite as much!
Beatallica: Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band (Oglio) Here's an idea: Let's do a complete album of Beatle covers but--get this-we'll play them in the style of Metallica! A brilliant concept? A masterwork? The best album ever released? Something that would result in my hearing an "unplugged version" of this stuff in the sanctity of my workplace? One of the above! Added bonus: er, Beatle-esque!
Fionn Regan: The End Of History (Lost Highway) Saw this guy in Austin, Texas earlier this year and was downright impressed with his songcraft, his sincerity, his ability to captivate an unsuspecting audience with his raw charisma and--to get down to brass tacks--his one hell of an unpronounceable first name! And if the title of his debut album is any indication, he probably won't be changing it to something simpler anytime soon! Buy this and feel superior to the guy standing behind you!
Smashing Pumpkins: Zeitgeist (Martha's Music/Reprise) Yepperoo, they're back with their first album since 2000's Machina! But wait a minute: "They" in this instance refers to Billy Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin--in truth, only half of the original Smashing Pumpkins! Will this be any good? Let's examine all the evidence: Their new album is called Zeitgeist! Billy's last band was called Zwan! He's often been seen wearing a shirt bearing the word Zero! Put those three Z's together and the answer is...is...ZZZ. I know this will be great!
Aly & AJ: Insomniatic (Hollywood) Renowned for being both young and blonde, this popular-with-the-kids duo have clearly embraced their responsibility as role models with this, their hot new third platter of teen pop! Don't know about you, but I can't wait to hear the innocent fun of such tracks as "Chemicals React," "Closure" and the marvelously titled "Bullseye." Just as an entire generation of music fans has misspelled the word "rumors" thanks to Fleetwood Mac, I'm counting on "insomniatic" to thrill future grammar teachers of America! Added bonus: They're both young and blonde!
Nick Drake: Family Tree (Tsunami Entertainment/Fontana) According to every music bio I've ever received since Volkswagon started showing that "Pink Moon" commercial, the entire world now sounds like Nick Drake! Suspiciously, this guy does too! This new collection of previously unheard (unless you're into bootlegs) material is a valuable addition to his comparatively skimpy catalog, and you should buy it unless something more appealing comes up! Added bonus: Sounds like Nick Drake!
Stephen Stills: Just Roll Tape: April 26th 1968 (Eyewall/Rhino) Time has not been kind to the memory of Stephen Stills--nor, one supposes, has Newsweek or US News & World Report. So let's not italicize them and be done with it! That said, this surprising release, which catches the former Buffalo Springfield frontman in the studio immediately prior to forming Crosby, Stills & Nash, is very, very good and very much worth your hearing. I, like many before me, am just sayin'.
Lez Zeppelin: Lez Zeppelin (Emanation/Redeye) Some albums are just crying out to be made, and I think this one--an all-female quartet paying tribute to the music of Led Zeppelin--is probably not one of those albums. No, I think this is one of those albums that will come out on a CD that, were it to be taken out of its case and hurled from an ocean liner, would probably travel very far before sinking into the ocean and puzzling the marine life watching its descent!