Like clockwork, the last week of January begins the flow of "real" albums--that is, albums with a legitimate chance of selling that, perhaps wisely, were withheld from release until the holiday season was over, the industry was up and moving again, and our president promised to send everyone lots of free cash!
And sure enough, there's a little something out there for everyone: Fans of teenpop, country music, alternative rock, hip new bands, Willie Nelson and Sarah Brightman!
Plus many exciting new digital downloads!
In short, this is the best time in history to be a music fan yet! What say we buy everything and see what happens next?
Mars Volta: The Bedlam In Gotham (GSL/Strummer/Universal) Perhaps this week's coolest band--then again, perhaps not--this rockin' combo is flavorful, adventurous, wild 'n' crazy, and sort of what Rush might've sounded like if LSD had ever been available in Canada! It's a substantial disc, honking off in every conceivable direction, and pretty much the work of artistes, like it or not. I like it, even with the italics. (On a related note: Midway through watching The Neptune Factor: An Undersea Odyssey DVD, I was captivated by a brief scene in which distraught actress Yvette Mimeux grabs a shortwave microphone and frantically says, "Come in, Neptune. Neptune, do you read me?" You really ought to see that.)
Shelby Lynne: Just A Little Lovin' (Lost Highway) Here's a quandary! I like Shelby Lynne, but I absolutely love Dusty Springfield--and wonder about the wisdom of anyone setting themselves up for comparison with her, even if it's done as a loving tribute. Don't get me wrong--this is a groovy record--but when I want to hear these songs or get in this mood, I'll plop on Dusty In Memphis, do the dishes, and rearrange the furniture! Oh, you know what I mean!
Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend (XL) If you're like me, you were stunned to open the latest Taste Directive notifying us that these guys were the coolest-new-band-yet yet! I specifically thought their time would come in about six months--giving us time to fully digest the latest new album by Louis XIV, who were the coolest-new-band-yet a couple of years ago according to a previous Taste Directive! If those guys at the Taste Department don't get their heads together in a jiffy, I'm going to start having my own opinions about things! And I just listened to a Spooky Tooth album!
Sarah Brightman: Symphony (Angel/EMI Manhattan) A fab new release from Ms. Brightman--known to many as the star of Andrew Lloyd Weber's Phantom Of The Opera, not to mention being his ex-wife--this should amply satisfy the music cravings of those of us who enjoy operatic pop and gothic metal, according to Wikipedia! Some have suggested that this blog at times employs "less than factual" information just for kicks, so when I tell you that this disc actually features Kiss's Paul Stanley, let's just say it brings me great joy!
Bullet For My Valentine: Scream Aim Fire (Jive) Far be it from me to second-guess the wisdom of record company marketing whizzes, but if your roster included a band with this name, wouldn't you want to release it a couple of weeks before February 14th? Secondly, if you were a troubled American teen with relationship problems, wouldn't you want to buy this for your girlfriend and maybe even force her to play it in the car to prove her love for you? Sheesh, I wonder if there's even any music on it? Crazy!
Hannah Montana: Hannah Montana 2: Non-Stop Dance Party (Disney) Here's a coincidence! Just when the Hannah Montana phenomenon has reached its peak, her label has coincidentally released a new Hannah Montana album! How can that be? Just luck! Featuring a "fresh mix" of her legendary Hannah Montana 2 soundtrack, and including a bonus slide show and printable party invitations--like, top that, Mars Volta!--it may just be the Hannah Montana album you haven't yet purchased! Between you and me, she looks like Miley Cyrus, only cuter!
Louis XIV: Slick Dogs And Ponies (Pineapple/Atlantic) A few weeks ago I was catching up on my email and noticed that last July I had been invited to see this band play live on the Sunset Strip in preparation for their new album's release! Jeez, calm down, dudes! If you're not careful, your label will sit on your album for ages, make you re-record tracks, and insist you record "I'm Henry The Eighth, I Am" because they're really into irony! Hah--like that could ever happen!
Joe Jackson: Rain (Rykodisc) Not to be confused with Joseph Walter Jackson, father of the Jackson music family, UK rocker Joe made a name for himself in the glory days of New Wave Rock--that's right, when record store clerks filed the Elvis Costello and Cars albums in a different section than Aerosmith and the Beatles--and has always been pretty good. And sometimes excellent. This disc is, if you'll excuse my French, pretty darn dandy, comes with a bonus DVD, and if not for its shameful lack of printable party invitations, an even better deal than that Hannah Montana thing! Mean parents: Buy it for the kids and tell 'em "Hannah's changed!"
Chris Walla: Field Manual (Barsuk) Highly respected guitarist, musician, producer and member of Death Cab For Cutie, Chris Walla is by common consent a fully rockin' dude and someone we all should admire. This new album is good by any standard, a fine addition to his catalog, and something I would buy if I was in a record store and was walking by the W's. Which joke do you think he's most sick of? 1) "Hey, will Walla be here soon?" or 2)"He's a great producer! You've never heard of the Walla sound?" If I knew him personally, I would probably go with choice No. 1!
Willie Nelson: Moment Of Forever (Lost Highway) One of country music's living legends, Nelson here sings tracks written by himself, Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan, Randy Newman, and even Big Kenny of Big & Rich--and as if that wasn't enough, is also produced by Mr. Kenny Chesney, himself rather famous in the world of country music! In a sense, this may represent a perfectly crystallized moment in musical history that can never be repeated--or, for the cynical among you, Willie Nelson's 965th album! I opt for the former because I think positive!