Newcomers, famous names, weirdos and veritable saviors of humanity are among the countless thousands who'll be releasing new albums this week--and it's now my honor to recount many of them!
But you know something? When I look at this list--which I haven't written yet, but I soon will--something strikes me. And that's the fact that it's likely there isn't a single person on this earth who would be a fan of all of these albums! It's true! Sadly, today's music fans have such divergent tastes, no one really seems capable of truly liking everything.
But I do. Yes, that's correct. I do indeed like everything, and in fact I probably like it more than you do!
But--and here's where it gets tricky--it has to start with a certain letter! And today's letter is Q!
Atreyu: Lead Sails Paper Anchor (Hollywood) Cleverly taking their name from the French pronunciation of "After You," these fun-loving hard-rockers will open the doors of your perception and more! With a massive fan base behind them-- I just saw someone wearing one of their shirts in Taco Bell!--and great new tunes like "Becoming The Bull" waiting to be discovered by millions, this could be Atreyu's entry into the big time! I just hope fans don't realize that the album title is an anagram for "Dear piranhas collapse!"
Yung Joc: Hustlenomics (Block Entertainment/Bad Boy South) Speaking of artists with phonetically fascinating names, this strapping "yung" lad has put together a cast of big names like The Game, Snoop Dogg and Trick Daddy, mixed in producers like the Neptunes, and come up with a hardcore rap single with the chilling title of..."Coffee Shop!" Considering the album title, can we assume a significant portion of the drama contained within involves getting a free Grande Vanilla Latte from a lackadaisical barista? Forgive my loose tongue, but I frickin' can't wait!
The Last Goodnight: Poison Kiss (Capitol) Let's give these newcomers credit for making it easy as pie to decide what we think of them! First of all, they sound exactly like Maroon 5! I mean, did you ever think Maroon 5 would ever be a band that other people would want to sound like? Secondly, they named their album after not one but two of the dopiest bands in the history of rock music! Luckily, however, they have nice hair, so let's give them the benefit of the doubt!
Scorpions: Humanity--Hour 1 (New Door/UME) Though I am far from a metalhead, I have to confess some fondness for German's mighty Scorpions, not least because I once was seated next to singer Klaus Meine for some industry dinner and thought he was a cool guy! And isn't that what music reviews should be all about? Plus, I saw them in concert a year or so ago and they still make the best metal "faces" in the biz, which--things being what they are and all--is an absolute sign of musical greatness! I suggest you buy this, play it for all your friends, then go surf the Internet!
Collective Soul: Afterwords (El Music Group) Sadly burdened with considerable talent and a reputation for "facelessness" that continues to dog them to this day, these dudes have seen the future--and it lies in being sold exclusively at Target stores! Lucky for them it's Back To School time, so you can bet I'll be just one of many picking up this groovy new disc along with some notebooks, a calculator, a couple of Floyd & AC/DC t-shirts and--who knows--maybe some candy at the cash register! It's the beginning of a new age!
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals: Lifeline (Virgin) There's a certain earnestness to the music of Ben Harper that some people find inspiring, and I suppose that's all over this new album--a well-played, well-sung, ultimately ho-hum collection of non-inspirational tunes that might sound good if I was eating some brown rice and, I dunno, drinking some energy drink or another. However, at this very moment, I am drinking my seventh can of Diet Coke and just smoked half a pack of cigarettes! Can you see where this is going?
Liars: Liars (Mute) The most important album of our lifetime? You decide! Track one starts off with a voice intoning "Two plus two equals five" and "The capital of Florida is St. Augustine"...and then the real fun begins! By track five, the voice is declaring "You are wearing a hair net" and "People are watching you through your television!" By track seven, the voice is saying, "In a true democracy, all people are equal" and "Man can fly!" The climactic album closer, which extends for a full 27 minutes, begins with the voice announcing "The true value of pi is..."and then continuing on reciting digits for a full 20 minutes! But the dude's got the second digit wrong! And the album's puzzling two-second coda--in which the voice says only the words "We are the Liars"--is a real head-scratcher! Wow!
N.O.R.E.: Noreality (Babygrande) Word on the street is it finally happened! Yep, believe it or not, due to human error, this all-star affair--which features Kanye West, David Banner, Pharell Williams, Three 6 Mafia, Jadakiss, Capone, Kurupt and Bun B, among countless others--accidentally doesn't include N.O.R.E. at all, apparently because of some mishap that took place at a 7-11 on the day of the recording session! Stunningly, absolutely no one involved with the project even noticed! And you know what? It's, I dunno, kinda...good!
Heaven & Hell: Live From Radio City Music Hall (Rhino) Documenting the tour of a lifetime--someone's lifetime, I'm sure--here's charismatic Ronnie James Dio, two dudes from Black Sabbath and Carmine Appice's brother Vinny! If you know your Black Sabbath history--and frankly, who doesn't?--this is somewhat akin to a Van Halen reunion featuring Sammy Hagar, and probably lots more fun on a visual level! Ironically, the scheduled cameo featuring N.O.R.E. apparently never took place due to some issue the rapper had at a nearby Dunkin' Donuts! Darn his luck!
The Honorary Title: Scream And Light Up The Sky (Reprise) OK, just to get things straight--the Honorary Title used to be a guy named Jarrod Gorbel, now it's a band. The Rocket Summer used to be a guy named Bryce Avary, now it's a band. Maybe if Jarrod and Bryce form a band of their own, they'll call it Larry and be done with it! I'd be into that!