Conspicuously missing from this week's list of hot new music releases is the latest album by up-and-coming pop star Kanye West--whose long-awaited new album 808s & Heartbreak is, not to worry, coming next week!
Why has it taken so long? Experts agree that West's recent pronouncement that he will "go down as the voice of this generation" might be one very significant reason!
According to one informed observer, the press has yet again blown the lovable West's innocent claims well out of proportion! Because West, whose devotion to higher education has played a part in the nomenclature of all his previous works, made that statement in reference to the petri dish he was holding in his right hand! And it contained a hearty colony of drosophila melanogaster--or common fruit fly--all of whom strongly feel West to be the dandiest vocalist they've heard in their entire lives! But no one reported that, did they?
Sorry, Kanye--but once again, the press wins and you lose! Can't wait to hear the new album, though!
Beyoncé: I Am...Sasha Fierce (Music World/Columbia) A boldly titled album--after all, at least some percentage of Beyoncé fans will refuse to purchase it because of its confusing title--but as always, a masterwork beyond reproach! It's a great time in music history for all of us: While Kanye West proclaims himself the voice of a generation, the much more attractive Beyoncé announces that her career role model is Barbra Streisand and she is aching to play the title role in the inevitable upcoming Wonder Woman movie! Heck, aren't we all? Deemed by the label as "her most personal, reflective and revelatory collection to date," this record coincidentally arrives prior to the singer's starring role in the films Cadillac Records and Obsessed! Clearly she is going down as the voice of this generation! Do you think there'll be a fistfight?
Nickelback: Dark Horse (Roadrunner) In many ways the voice of a generation, Nickelback represents everything that is great about today's record business! They sell tons of records, they are loved by fans and loathed by critics--and if you ran into 'em in a bar you would avoid eye contact in case they were panhandling! For a band with their sales track record, naming a new album after former Beatle George Harrison's less-than-successful former record label might seem a bold move, as would, for that matter, actually being from Canada! But with Mutt Lange's sterling production, such great tracks as "If Today Was Your Last Day," and a legacy that is spoken of with hushed, respectful whispers in parts of Alabama and Cleveland, this is clearly the Nickelback record of a lifetime! Maybe even a mammal's!
David Cook: David Cook (19 Recordings/RCA) Holy triple threat! First Beyonce, then Nickelback, and now the winner of this year's American Idol competition? Why doesn't everyone else just give up? So let's compare this album to the one released last week by Idol arch-rival David Archuleta! Both are by guys named David, both are by guys who made their careers on a TV show, and both are being released in the compact disc and digital download format! Additionally, when removed from their protective cases and bundled with fishing tackle into cylindrical lots of 50, both would hit the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean at the same time if released from a fishing boat simultaneously! My vote? Heck, they're both the voice of a generation!
Dido: Safe Trip Home (Arista) For the longest time during the recent presidential election I was waiting for somebody somewhere to make the inevitable "take the `L' out of Palin" joke, but tragically, it was not to be! I think precisely the opposite when it comes to Dido! Frankly I'm glad she's back--word is that posing for this album's cover shot was fraught with difficulty! With the assistance of producers Jon Brion, her brother Rollo, and the remarkably named Citizen Cope, Dido's made a third album that may come to speak for an entire generation! Plus, the CD comes with four Dido postcards! Count me in!
Mudvayne: The New Game (Epic) While some of us remember with affection the Golden Age of Mudvayne--when its members wore makeup and called themselves Chüd, Güüg, Rüd, and Spüg and passports were perhaps predictably hard to come by--there's no denying that this rockin' combo from Peoria are the voice of a new generation! Intriguingly, their former "tough" exterior is roundly rebuffed with this latest album, which reportedly is devoted to the age-old game "Pin The Tail On The Donkey" and features such tracks as "A Cinderella Story" and their loving ode to the Burger King franchise, "Have It Your Way"! If they're in your town, invite 'em to a Sunday brunch with your pastor and start talking business!
The Doors: Live At The Matrix 1967 (Rhino) Long bootlegged but never sounding as good, these gigs--now finally available commercially--are an eye-opening and curiosity-satisfying glimpse into the Doors during the earliest stage of their career. Recorded in the course of four nights at San Francisco's Matrix club, just a few months after the release of the group's first album, the band runs through much of that album's material and tracks soon to come, including "My Eyes Have Seen You," "People Are Strange" and even "Crawling King Snake." While fidelity isn't top notch, it's far better than anything released previously--and an excellent document of the band just stretching out and gigging rather than coping with the enormously legacy that would soon be theirs as the voice of a generation! Welcome and highly recommended but...no nudity!
Belle & Sebastian: The BBC Sessions (Matador) One of the best bands of the last decade, Belle & Sebastian have released a flood of superb albums, singles, EPs, vinyl LPs, and probably cassettes as well! This collection, which documents the group's BBC exploits since 1996, comes in regular and "deluxe" servings--single and double CD--and is the sort of thing you'd want to have in your house and perhaps even play on occasion. It's quite good! Featuring a batch of material that only the group's staunchest fans have likely heard, it's simply the best representation yet of the high standard that have made Belle & Sebastian the voice of their generation! I'd buy two!
Sammy Hagar: Cosmic Universal Fashion (Loud & Proud/Roadrunner) The charismatic Mr. Hagar was of course a longtime member of the less-interesting version of Van Halen--the one that recorded the famous For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, a disc from which this new effort takes nominal hints, at least initially! Featured guests include his former Halen buddy Michael Anthony, Matt Sorum, Billy Duffy, and a cadre of aging Republican senators fascinated by Hagar's "red rocker" nickname and his defiant classic "I Can't Drive 55"! In the world of David Lee Roth replacements, Hagar stands head and shoulders as the true voice of a generation!
Shontelle: Shontelligence (SRP/SRC/Universal) She's gorgeous, she's from the West Indies, and she uses only her first name! She's got a great hit called "T-Shirt"! No one knows if she likes Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon"! Her debut album features tracks with great names like "Plastic People" and "I Crave You"! Is it any wonder that those in her homeland of Barbados consider her the voice of a generation? Also, she's cute!
Blake Shelton: Startin' Fires (Warner Brothers Nashville) Reports are that this a great record, but here's a hint: If you live in LA, walking into a record store this week and telling clerks you're interested in Startin' Fires could be deemed problematic!