The holiday season is upon us, and there are only a few weeks before the end of the year!
So now's the time for record labels to fire their last shots, to offer up their best-ever--their last hope to make a few much needed bucks, before their employees hitchhike home, paychecks in pocket, to buy some gas and finally move their cars out of the driveway! If they haven't been repossessed, of course!
Luckily, the quality of this week's releases may be sufficient to save the industry for yet another year--offering everyone at least a few weeks to stay at home and evaluate all those practices that perhaps have placed them in the perilous position, to see the error of their ways, and make sure that it never happens again and that 2011 is their best year ever!
Similarly, the sun may rise in the west, pigs may finally reveal the ability to take flight at their whim, and Santa Claus may be irked about having to transport vinyl reissues he's been re-delivering for two decades now when he can barely buy them at cost, let alone lug them around again on his sled!
Plus: I'm not sure he even exists!
Duffy: Endlessly (Mercury) We're at the stage when the next big things of a few years ago are coming back for a second round, and between blonde chanteuse Duffy, fab vocalist Adele and the inescapable Amy Winehouse, the Brit Babes are gradually resurfacing and waiting to be loved yet again! In the case of Duffy--whose deliberately retro styling were never soul deep but no less pleasant for it--that's not a bad thing, as this new record sounds stylish and offers up the same '60s-vibe pop warblings, and, as the cover illustrates, she's still cute as the proverbial button! Perhaps purchasing this record and telling all your friends it sounds great may result in her flying to the States, knocking at your door, and announcing her intent to take you as her lawfully wedded spouse! Who knows? It worked before, and times are tough! I'm game!
Natasha Bedingfield: Strip Me (Epic) Glamorous blonde Brit babes not your speed? Could be problematic, then, as Natasha Bedingfield is also back--and she hasn't exactly grown horns, wings and a tail! With an album boldly titled Strip Me--surely meaning strip me of all my grammar, my good looks, my impeccably proper English speaking voice, and my unspoken assumption that only good things will happen to me purely due to genetics, and I'm just the same as you, though doubtlessly richer and ultimately more deserving of good fortune, and hey, do you like my hair?--Natasha returns with a hook-filled, producer-rich album that will make all things right with your world, however temporary your happiness may ultimately be! Besides, as a title, Scoff At Me simply doesn't scan as well! Buy two copies!
Daft Punk: Tron: Legacy (Walt Disney) Like many people, I sat in a theater, watched the original Tron, and was stunned at the film's ability to emit a beam that would dematerialize me, draw me up into the screen, make me an actual character in the movie, then at film's end return me to me seat, an emptier wallet the only telling difference! Plus, parts of my body hurt! Clearly Daft Punk were equally moved--and thus their involvement in the film's long-awaited sequel, which hopefully won't be outdated months before its release as well! With a full orchestra at their disposal, the distinguished French crew apparently sent half of them out for pizza, 20 or so to an unexpectedly glamorous dominoes tournament, and the remaining 12 to a strip joint outside Paris featuring Sumo wrestlers frolicking in mud! Then they pressed a few notes on their sequencers! I love these guys!
Hinder: All American Nightmare (Universal Republic) You've got to love Hinder! It's a brand new rule, and heck--I'm into it! Word is that the hard-rockin' dudes "take their cues from rock legends like Aerosmith, AC/DC, KISS, and Guns N' Roses, and update them with modern guitar sounds"! Then, perhaps unexpectedly, they walk down the block to another pool hall, where simmering bikers grab those cues, hit them repeatedly over the head, and relentlessly ask them for the address of the girl on their new album cover while pouring beer over their heads! Later, they go out for a late-night Chinese dinner and discuss the relative merits of exciting new album tracks like "Striptease," "Everybody's Wrong," and the quintessentially anthemic "What Ya Gonna Do"! Embarrassingly, the waiter mistakes them for Godsmack!
Adam Lambert: Acoustic Live! (19 Recordings) With its red, white & blue cover signifying his allegiance to the American Way, and the fingers of his hand helpfully pointing out that this is his second major release, former American Idol contestant Adam Lambert is back--offering up five songs, three of which aren't bad at all, the other two better than anything else people from that show have ever offered, so why quibble? As a special bonus, if you sit where I sit at work, you never even have to play this thing to hear it repeatedly! Fave anagrams: Bad Meal Mart, Mama Lard Bet, Bald Meat Ram!
Flyleaf: Remember To Live (A&M/Octone) Must confess that I find Flyleaf strangely fascinating, maybe because the Texan band's lead singer Lacey Mosley gives off that sort of wide-eyed hysterical vibe you'd expect from someone who liked Play Misty For Me a little too much and wants to come over to your house "to listen to Philip Glass records"! This new disc features seven previously unreleased tracks, and as such is the most compelling thing they've ever released! It may just be me, but picturing the lead singer running around your house with a hatchet while singing opening track "Justice & Mercy (Violent Love Version)" is fun!
T.I.: No Mercy (Grand Hustle) When it comes to new albums released from guys in jail, it's hard to beat's T.I.'s latest! The charismatic rapper, whose legal troubles have been well-documented, I'm told, returns here with an all-star cast including Kanye West, Eminem, Christina Aguilera, The-Dream, and the Beagle Boys! With a single featuring Chris Brown already out there making noise, it's easy to predict big things for T.I.--especially when you're scared not to! Wait a minute, I think someone's outside!
Bee Gees: In Our Own Time Blu-Ray DVD (Eagle) There's been a wealth of Bee Gees-related product of late--Rhino just issued a great 4-CD box set a few weeks ago--but that said, for a band of their caliber and worldwide status, their career has been shamefully under-documented. This disc, which features brand new interviews, a large batch of live performance clips, and some welcome home movies of the trio from their early days, is a revealing look into their lives and a documentary certain to please those fans still wanting more from the band. And here's hoping Rhino continues their fabulous reissue series with some post-Odessa releases!
Hedley: The Show Must Go (Island) They're enormously popular in Canada, and why not? Between them, the producers on this album had been responsible for hits by the Used, Story Of The Year, Breaking Benjamin, Hinder, Daughtry and Paramore! Not only that, but their bio's main selling point is that they're from "the country that brought you Drake, Justin Bieber and Nickelback"! All of which is to say: That's enough evidence right there to join hands and collectively file a class action suit against our sinister neighbor to the north before our wacky Supreme Court takes away even that right while lining the pockets of the cynical multi-millionaire corporate slugs who put them into power in the first place! You bet this band rocks!