What a week! After this new hubbub about that "exhilarating" Britney Spears video come three new albums--all in their own way just as relevant to today's sizzling pop music climate, and certainly a much-needed breath of fresh air.
First, that new Radiohead album which costs as much--or as little--as fans want to pay!
Next, the long-awaited debut of the unconventionally named Naked Brothers Band!
And finally, the release of Electric Six's I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being The Master--clearly the year's best album for its name alone!
Sadly, all three albums must be played to be fully enjoyed!
Kid Rock: Rock 'N' Roll Jesus (Lava/Atlantic) Love him or leave him, invite him to your awards show and watch him punch someone out, Detroit's own Kid Rock is a colorful character that you can't help rooting for! Rock? Rap? Country? Other? No problem! Predictions are the Kid will either soar to renewed superstardom or plummet into the depths of hell purely for adorning his new album with such a blasphemous name! Then, predictors mysteriously add, it might rain! The suspense is killing me!
Radiohead: In Rainbows (private release) Talk about making history! This album is directly available via the band's own website here for any price you'd care to name! Download it as of tomorrow, order the "deluxe box" and receive it in December, and take part in the most fascinating music retail experience of all time. Evil hint: Tell your snooty friends they can hear it here for free! Then tell them you think Thom has "testosterone issues!"
Jennifer Lopez: Brave (Epic) With a title like Brave, it would be the height of irony if Jennifer Lopez's new all-English language album were filled to the brim with Redbone covers as a tribute to Native American rock bands! Or if her vocals were recorded bone-dry, without any studio treatment whatsoever, and plopped down on the album as a pure and untainted sonic representation of where she's at as a vocalist! But the album cover just shows a picture of her looking directly into her own eyes! I'm into profound symbolism, dude! That's unnerving!
Band Of Horses: Cease To Begin (Sub Pop) Going Charles Manson's "Cease To Exist" one better, the ultrafab Band Of Horses return with a surprisingly strong second album which I heartily recommend! Chockfull of expert songwriting and even experter playing, this is the album that Ed, Flicka, Silver and Dobbin were born to make! And what range!
The Naked Brothers Band: The Naked Brothers Band (Nick Music/Columbia) Perhaps it's just the years I spent behind record store counters that makes me imagine a scenario wherein a young preteen fan of this band might wander into a mall record store somewhere and meekly inquire where she might find a copy of the new album by "the Naked Brothers." That's when the fun would begin for sadistic and underpaid store clerks! Moms, Dads: Let the kids download! Spare them the shame!
Robert Wyatt: Comicopera (Domino) A welcome return by distinguished Brit musician Wyatt, whose earlier work with Soft Machine and the cream of Europe's finest musicians has made him one of the most highly regarded players on the planet. Dense but accessible at every turn, Comicopera is highlighted by Wyatt's singular vocal approach, wry and intelligent songwriting, and, as ever, an enviable musical cast. Like Puddle Of Mudd's new album, it is out this week!
LeAnn Rimes: Family (Curb) Hey, I'm all for underselling your product--just ask anyone who knows me--but I'm wondering if country princess LeAnn made the wisest possible choice in naming this album's first single "Nothing Better To Do." I mean, you're in a record store, and you've got her album in your hand, and then you look down a few rows and there's Britney Spears's picture emblazoned with the words "Gimme More." Then the walls move! Then the headaches start! Et cetera!
Vanessa Carlton: Heroes & Thieves (The Inc) Once pegged to be the next big thing, young Vanessa did a subtle career fade following the relative stiffness of her previous album, but now she's back and rarin' to go! And with her unexpectedly joining forces with hip-hop mogul Irv Gotti and the guy who produced her last album--Third Eye Blind's charming Stephan Jenkins--we can see where she got her album title! The combination of vocals and musical instrumentation leads me to believe that there are songs on this disc, and when I find out more, I'll get back to you!
Koop: Koop Islands (Atlantic) Dubbed an "electronic jazz due from Sweden" according to sources in the know, this nifty set--the group's third--features vocals on every track but one, and is an unexpected delight. Intriguingly, attempts to further describe it are oddly stifled when the writer is concurrently listening to a live recording of Foreigner playing in Dallas in 1981 and hears singer Lou Gramm ominously proclaim "We're going to be doing everything from everything" to the enthusiastic crowd!
Electric Six: I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being The Master (Metropolis) It would be the height of impropriety to suggest that this would be a really great name for an "overly polite" rap album!