Exciting new releases by the boatload make this the most compelling week in record-buying history!
On Earth, however, our options are considerably more limited!
Still, with hot new titles by Katy Perry, Little Big Town and Usher available to us all, it most definitely could be worse!
For example: Nuclear war could obliterate us all, and then we probably wouldn't care if there were any new albums!
So, like you, I'm inclined to look at the bright side of things: If these new albums are dull, soul-deadening experiences that make us question whether we've actually lost the sheer verve and love for music that in many ways drives us all, it doesn't matter! There'll be new ones next week!
Plus, they all look so nice!
Katy Perry: Teenage Dream (Capitol) Some people I work with--whose taste I respect--feel somehow "let down" by Katy Perry, as if she suddenly veered from a path of artistic integrity into a world of crass, cynical popcraft almost evil in its very nature! Others simply think she looks hot--especially with that blue hair thing! I think she's fine and nothing to get worked up about, sort of a 21st Century equivalent of all those anonymous babes who used to work with Mike Chapman in the '80s! I'd be willing to bet that in 25 years or so, whether you like it now or are completely sick of it, "California Gurls" will strike the same pleasant chord within you as Nick Gilder's "Hot Child In The City" does today! Plus, man will learn how to fly!
Little Big Town: The Reason Why (Capitol Records Nashville) One of the best country-esque outfits going at the moment, Little Big Town are often apologetically described as being "like Fleetwood Mac" among rock 'n' roll folks who try to rationalize why they sound so good! It's great! And sure--the two guys/two girls thing is kind of obvious, but still: the harmonies going on here are excellent and not particularly derivative of anybody, rock, country or otherwise! "Little White Church" is a great single, this quartet is getting better with every album, and buying this record is better than travelling back in time and going through that whole Farrah Fawcett/curling iron thing all over again!
Fantasia: Back To Me (J Records) In these troubled personal times, the last thing Fantasia Barrino--winner of the third season of American Idol--probably needs at the moment is an elaborate joke incorporating Mickey Mouse wearing a wizard's hat and Stravinsky's "The Rite Of Spring"! Likewise, who needs another pointless diatribe declaring American Idol to be the death of all American culture? Instead, how about a serious discussion detailing how this could well be the absolute best-sounding record in the history of the American music industry--especially to someone who's been locked in a room and forced to hear nothing by the sound of pneumatic hammers and dentist drills for 24 hours before being allowed out to listen to it! It's only failing? Not being called All Eyes On Me, since no one's used that for at least three weeks now!
Usher: Versus (La Face) In a daring move, R&B superstar Usher returns to the marketplace with Versus, a new album he's apparently released because his recent album Raymond V. Raymond was interpreted by some to be the story of some poor soul with a redundant name and a middle initial of V! What dopes! Unfortunately, like many, I picked this up because I thought it was the new album by that hip Merge Records band called Versus! But this sounds nothing like them! Also available this week as part of a special "deluxe" Raymond V. Raymond package, the album reportedly has the ability to hold a flashlight and show people to their seats in movie theaters!
!!!: Strange Weather Isn't It (Warp) Regarded by many to have the best band name in history if you're an idiot, !!! are in some ways comparable to Latimer, the Cheeksters, the Blue Runners and the Boxing Gandhis--especially if you just grabbed a handful of CDs lying around your house and decided to finally rip them while you were writing this! Good? Bad? An entire career come and gone while you were busy setting up interviews with Seven Mary Three? No way! Simply the best band ever to use their current name!
Laetitia Sadier: Trip (Drag City) Wise people know that Stereolab was one of the fabbest bands of the last eon or so, thus they must also know that this album is the first "official" solo release by Stereolab's groovy French-ish singer Sadier, who disbanded her other band Monade after too many people lost their prescription for it! A nice, mellow, not too heavily overdubbed sonic showcase which sounds great over a fine dinner of wine, tomatoes and mozzarella slices! Just drizzle with olive oil, add basil, bring out some candles and let your love flow!
JP, Chrissie & The Fairground Boys: Fidelity! (La Mina) Perhaps unexpectedly comes this new album by Chrissie Hynde, of the Pretenders, and JP Jones--a musician with an admittedly famous name, but not the JP Jones you might presume it to be! Incredibly, Hynde has hooked up with John Paul Jones, the first well-known naval fighter of the Revolutionary War! A fine album nonetheless, its understated theme--"the story of two people who fall in love but realize their future is doomed by a 30-year age gap"--is marred only by the sad fact that the age gap is considerably greater than that, and that I Have Not Yet Begun To Fight would have been a better album title! Other than that, it rocks!
Lana Mir: Lana Mir (Unfiltered) Plopped this CD in the player at work, figuring it would be some sort of new-agey Hawaiian thing based on the cover pic, and was pleasantly surprised by its atmospheric tone, the singer's understated voice, and of course, the cover of the Stone Roses' "I Wanna Be Adored." Found out a few days later the album was on Unfiltered Records, the label run by Andy Chase of Ivy and Brookville, whose own music might be described similarly, and the same guy who co-produced this album! Decided from that point forward that reading album credits makes more sense than listening to music!
Electric Light Orchestra: Live: The Early Years DVD (Eagle) Though the really early years would also feature Jeff Lynne's former Move-mate Roy Wood--and that would be very special--this fine collection is early enough, offering up three live ELO sessions, from '73, '74 and '76, when the band was still on the way up and showcasing some of their best material. Though I could do without "Great Balls Of Fire," hearing "10538 Overture" and "Eldorado Overture" again drives home what a worthwhile endeavor this entire band once was. Some glorious stuff!
Dead Confederate: Sugar (Razor & Tie) I like that fact that I enjoyed this album on an "organic" level--which is to say, I liked the cover shot, vaguely remembered their name, plopped it in, found it interesting enough to listen to more than once, and then I ate it! Interestingly, according to its product description, though it is the band's "sophomore" album, it is also their first "true" album! The square root of -1? Not a mention!