You know what? Nothing leaps out as a massive smash-to-be this week, which--since I don't run a record company--might not be a bad thing.
Maybe the last remaining record stores in America will devote precious shelf space to some of this week's more deserving non-blockbuster titles, sell millions of new albums, create a widespread enthusiasm for recorded music that hasn't been seen in years, and single-handedly save the industry!
Or maybe space aliens will visit a Best Buy, decide to sample American culture, buy the new Jim Jones album, and say to each other, "Hey, dudes, this thing is just a mixtape! And it's for sale!"
Or maybe, just maybe, the latest album by Kidz Bop Kids will be given that one additional listen--the one that finally clicks with the most influential music critics in America--and a chain reaction of massive critical respect, essays and magazine covers will make them a phenomenon the likes of which hasn't been seen since the glory days of the Beatles!
Most likely, though, things will just go on as they were--and we'll all just be a little older and wearier!
Harlem's American Gangster (Koch) When I think of Jim Jones these days, I don't think of that Kool-Aid guy, I think of a dude whose song "We Fly High" has reportedly sold "over 3.5 million digital and ringtone units combined"! Then I think about how much actual space all of those units must take up in a warehouse! Then I pick up a press release telling me that this album is a mixtape that was already available in a different form but that this will likely sell big numbers, so watch out! Then I wonder why two different words are needed to modify "gangster" in the album title but eventually lose interest! Say, did you see Dwight Howard's performance in this weekend's NBA All-Star Game Dunk competition? Crazy, huh?
Ray Davies: Working Man's Cafe (New West) It would be thrilling beyond belief to report that Ray Davies, the eminently respectable man behind the Kinks, one of rock 'n' roll's best-ever bands, has returned to the scene after a hiatus with a profoundly affecting set that may be his best in 20 years! It would be also be sad but predictable to report that whatever muse guided Davies during his glory days seems to have departed many years ago! So what's it going to be? Heck, I don't know!
Lust, Lust, Lust (Vice) Breaking all the rules just because they can, this cheery Danish duo have made a new album that is unexpectedly better than ever and deserving of your cash today! Evoking classic pop, noise, good looks and memorable melodies, the heroically named Sune Rose Wagner (guy) and Sharin Foo (girl) offer a breath of fresh air to today's locker room of steamy, sweaty and ultimately repulsive pop music! I still don't understand what Dave Grohl has against Sharin Foo, but I'd be willing it has nothing to do with Blender magazine's naming her one of rock's "hottest women" alongside Courtney Love, Joan Jett and Liz Phair! According to Wikipedia!
Mockingbird (New Line) Though I've had my fill of cover albums--because they're inorganic and difficult to digest--I must say that Allison Moorer is one classy young lady. And her selection of songs on this collection of cover versions is pretty astute--Nina Simone is there, alongside Patti Smith, June Carter Cash, Kate McGarrigle, Joni Mitchell, Ma Rainey and...get this...Cat Power, who's not above making cover albums herself! I've now changed my mind completely and think that cover albums are completely great, and only wish males could write songs that could get covered like this! Good stuff!
Chuck Berry: Johnny B Goode: His Complete '50s Chess Recordings (Hip-O Select) A 4-CD set of Chuck Berry's classic '50s recordings for Chess Records is by definition essential stuff, and this limited edition package features bonuses galore: alternate takes, early versions, between-song patter, studio jams, and the sort of thing that's pretty much an audio documentary of history in the making. In its own way as influential as Rihanna and Modest Mouse, but more old-fashioned!
Kula Shaker: Strangefolk (Cooking Vinyl) The first album since 1999 by one of the UK's former brightest hopes--out of growing pool of 627 at this counting!--is not bad at all. Luckily, an entirely new generation of music fans will have never heard the band in their previous incarnation--and the former fan base of aging baby boomers who enjoyed knowing that lead singer Crispian Mills was the actual son of '60s dreambabe Hayley Mills now simply doesn't care at all, as they are busy getting poked and prodded and thinking about boring things like probate and living wills! That just leaves us! And I'm just waiting for these guys to add Salt-n-Pepa!
Kidz Bop 13 (Razor & Tie) And they said the number 13 was unlucky! After all these years of making fun of this recording project's name--like, "kids bopping kids" sounds a little weird, you know what I mean?--I finally listened to this stuff and was stunned! It isn't just the material being covered--"Party Like A Rockstar, " "Hey There Delilah," and "Bubbly"--it's that each and every one of the kids involved here is a young master of the jazz saxophone, and their take on today's hit parade if anything sounds exactly like those old Supersax albums still clogging up the jazz bins in used record stores! Especially when you accidentally drop them!
Mike Doughty: Golden Delicious (ATO) We here at Yahoo recently enjoyed a visit from Mr. Doughty, the former Soul Coughing dude, and as he gave his private performance, we all found him an entirely talented and friendly dude and wished him only the best! His new album is dandy, and it is produced by Dan Wilson, a similarly talented artist we also like very much! One of the highlights of Mr. Doughty's current album is his song "27 Jennifers," and what would be a horrifying confessional if penned by a mass murderer is in fact a wry take on society's overwhelming compulsion to assign similar names to its female humans! All told, it's neat!
Jesus Of Cool: 30th Anniversary Edition (Yep Rock) It was a sad day for America in 1978 when Columbia Records timidly renamed Nick Lowe's UK album Jesus Of Cool the less-inspired Pure Pop For Now People--but now everything is fantastic! That's because hipster label Yep Rock has taken that same British album, added on the tracks that appeared on the American version, then threw in seven more songs just to repackage it in a manner that would make it palatable for 2008's consumers! And I am happy to report that the album sounds just as delightful today as it did back in 1978! Oh yeah--and it did sound delightful back then! Buy this and you'll be embracing Jesus whether you like it or not!
Monade: Monstre Cosmic (Too Pure) If you're hip you'll know that this is the side-project of Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier and as a result must be absolutely fabulous by definition, especially because she's French! If you're not hip, however, you'll make "I don't like Monade" jokes and it won't make a difference! No one cares!