A healthy array of fine new CDs by bands both old and new make this the best album release week of the month!
Between sturdy works by old reliables like Los Lobos and Squeeze, deluxe editions by classic bands like Neu! and the more recent Porcupine Tree, and new product by superstars Lady Gaga and Arcade Fire, there's no point in giving up all music in favor of getting that long-needed Masters in Business Administration!
Instead, why not give up all your ambitions, drop a few hundred at a struggling independent record store, and simply stay at home and enjoy the work of other, more deserving people?
Besides, when you stay at home and never leave the house, you rarely have to change your clothes! At least, that's what I've heard!
Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (Merge) It's likely that the entire world is waiting to determine whether the Arcade Fire really can deliver the goods with this, their long-awaited third album! Will it be incredibly great, and singlehandedly refute the notion that all interesting music stopped being recorded around 1994 or so? Or will it simply be too similar to everything they've recorded in the past and drive home the point that all they were ever good for was sounding slightly unique, but even that novelty has worn thin over time? Finally, will they proudly acclaim their Canadian roots or perhaps try to fool everybody by putting palm trees on the cover of their brand new album? Strangely, no to all three questions! But whether a simple tribute album to a mildly admired but little-missed '80s Minneapolis band will solve the growing problems of world hunger and our troubled economy is another matter entirely! What is Canada, anyway?
Lady Gaga: The Remix (Streamline/Konlive) As a general rule of thumb, here's the deal with today's smash rock hitmakers! First you put out an album and hope it's a hit! Then, if it is a hit, you put it out again with a few extra tracks and call it a "deluxe" edition! Then, if that sells, you put out a "remix" album with the same music all over again but a brand new cover that--as is the norm--recalls cartoon star Woody Woodpecker! Then, finally, you put out a greatest hits album featuring tracks from all three albums! After that, you retire from the music business, donate all your money to worthy charitable causes, follow your heart, and become the librarian you'd always dreamt you'd be! Of course, if your first album doesn't sell, nothing matters at all!
The Black Crowes: Croweology (Silver Arrow/Megaforce) To celebrate the 20th anniversary of their multi-platinum debut Shake Your Moneymaker, the rockin' Black Crowes decided to go in the studio, rearrange all their classics into acoustic versions, issue two new discs for the price of only one, and reap the benefits of being rockin' dudes with a zest for life and a genuine love for the audience, whether large or small! But on their way to the studio, they passed a movie theatre that was showing a double-bill of Willie Wonka And The Chocolate Factory as well as The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant! After the movie, they laughed at their earlier naïveté, skipped going to the studio entirely, and instead dropped a few thousand at a fancy restaurant discussing how Lady Gaga "did it" and how with any luck they too could release a remix album and charge a bundle without even lifting a finger! At the restaurant, a waiter asked them if it was true they were the Arcade Fire! And that was only the beginning!
Los Lobos: Tin Can Trust (Shout! Factory) Just as Lady Gaga can attract record buyers by sticking an appealing picture on her new album cover, LA's much-loved Los Lobos can do the same with their new album--which, frankly, pretty much looks how I--and others like me--perceive all life at this point! Everything's a blur and I feel strangely detached! It's cool! Luckily, the dudes continue to rock better and more authentically than nearly any rock 'n' roll band you can name, and this new album--their first to feature new material in four years--is something of which any band, old or new, can feel enormously proud! Additionally, any respect accorded DC comic legends the Metal Men is always welcome!
Squeeze: Spot The Difference (XOXO) It doesn't seem that long ago when I was sitting in a bar in Detroit and interviewing the members of Squeeze about their exciting new album Sweets From A Stranger! But of course, that was 1982, and back then it seemed highly unlikely the band would be back in the market 28 full years later singing many of the same songs that back then had many rock critics talking about them in terms of being the "new Lennon & McCartney"! Spot the difference? Sure! They're a lot older now, I'm putting two kids through college, and now my car doesn't even have a cassette player! Plus, gasoline prices have really gone through the roof! How about we all hold hands, gather round the fire, sing "Tempted" until the cows come home and watch our faces wrinkle in real time?
Neu!: Neu! (Vinyl Box Set) (Groenland) Now you're talking! Here's a deluxe set featuring the recorded works of pioneering German band Neu!, whose influence over the entire domain of rock music has grown to legendary proportion since the early '70s. Featuring four vinyl albums--Neu!, Neu! 2, Neu! 75, the never "officially" released Neu! '86--an unreleased maxi-single from 1972, an actual stencil, download codes for digital versions and a free t-shirt, this is simply one of the most appealing releases of the year, and one any sane human should rightly covet! It's available at http://www.groenland.com/ and simply better than anything ever released! At least this week!
Porcupine Tree: Anesthetize/Live In Tilburg (Special Edition) (Kscope) Speaking of deluxe editions, here's a pair that pretty much defines the term! Brit band Porcupine Tree--whose following continues to grow on a worldwide level, as does the overall quality of their music--recently offered up this stunning set of deluxe versions of their 2008 filmed concert in Tilburg, Holland, and for fans, it's a case of joyful excess. Each version--only 4,000 of the grey cover, 1,000 of the red cover--consists of an illustrated, clothbound hardcover book, two audio CDs of the concert, and separate standard definition and Blu-Ray DVDs of the film. If you don't care for Porcupine Tree, this may not excite you, but if you do--and those that do, really do--will be thrilled by the love and overall quality of the packaging here. They're limited editions, but check this out for more details!
Buckcherry: All Night Long (Eleven Seven Music) The fifth album by Buckcherry might be best described by the sentence in their bio that pretty much tells it like it is and more!: "It's not just rock, it's rock and roll!" Real time editorial insertion: I just wrote four sentences about this band that sounded vaguely familiar, so I did an Internet search and found this, which I wrote about two years ago! What's changed since then? Well, I do comb my hair differently now, and I think it suits me well! How about you?
The Smoke: The Smoke (Kismet/Forced Exposure) Fans of '60s psychedelia will be thrilled with the reissue of this lost '60s classic, the work of Michael Lloyd--of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and much more in the way of classic pop productions--and an excellent listen throughout! If you can imagine a combination of the softer side of the WCPAEB and the Beach Boys singing "Me And You And A Dog Named Boo," then you have too much time on your hands and should consider reading classic literature or something!
Bun B: Trill O.G. (Rap-A-Lot) Featuring guest stars like Drake, Young Jeezy, Yo Gotti and production by no less than the Justice League--holy crap, I thought they were made up!--the new album by Bun B. is at times warm, seedy, toasted, grilled and totally nutritious--and best of all, it can be cleaned up with a quick wipe of a paper towel or sponge!