What a great week! After a sluggish summer of dreary album releases, the music industry has left the top-secret hotel suite its members jointly inhabit--that's how they set prices!--and come out swinging with a bevy of hot new releases!
Usually I'm hard-pressed to come up with even 10 exciting albums in a given seven-day cycle--but today, the sky's the limit! There must be 20 or more albums I for one would like to buy, or at least hear, or at least hold and look at!
Here's betting that you too will feel the same way!
Nelly: Brass Knuckles (Derrty/Universal) "His track record is irrefutable," notes his bio! And so is his notion that posing shirtless on his new album cover is a sure way to sell lots of records! Unlike some, I don't think he's pursued this strategy to alert "slower" music fans that he's not Nelly Furtado, just Nelly! I just think he was sweaty! With an impressive guest list--including Akon, Ashanti, Rick Ross, Snoop, Usher, Ciara, Chuck D., Pharrell, and new "Best Name Ever" champ City Spud--and songs that range from the uplifting ("Self Esteem") to the lust-filled ("Body On Me") to a very welcome skit about the proper setting of the dinner table ("Who F**ks w/ Me")--this CD would be a sure contender for Album Of The Summer if it wasn't already September 16th and time for Christmas shopping!
Buckcherry: Black Butterfly (Eleven Seven/Atlantic) Ever have one of the moments when, after years and years, something suddenly clicks? When I was a tyke, two of the most famous names in pop music were Fats Domino and Chubby Checker! One day it hit me--hey, wait--"synonym for hefty" + "ubiquitous gamepiece" = both of their names! Cool! In the same manner, it took me a while to realize that Buckcherry and Chuck Berry were pretty similar too! Why? Because they both rock and are legendary! I'm thinking Buckcherry may be a little better, though, because I can relate more to their lyrics! You too? And don't get me started on Moby Grape and the much more concise Moby!
Ne-Yo: Year Of The Gentleman (Def Jam) Hats off to Mr. Yo! Having recently witnessed him onstage in LA--in fact you can watch it too, here--I was completely impressed by his showmanship, his singing abilty, his wit, his charm, and his dapper appearance! So much so that I recommend this album highly and suggest you buy it! Word on the street is that he's in talks with Cartoon Network about his own animated series--in the tradition of the Beatles, Deputy Dawg, and the Jackson 5--but I assure you that Ne is "three-dimensional" in every other sense! Buy this album and put those other talentless exhibitionists to shame!
Darius Rucker: Learn To Live (Capitol Nashville) I remember seeing Hootie & the Blowfish back in the early days and watching in amazement as vocalist Rucker belted out a surprisingly enjoyable cover of...get this...Barry Manilow! Admittedly, I'd had a lot to drink and would've enjoyed just about anything that night, but still--it's all I needed to hear to prepare me for Rucker's deep dive into the exciting world of country music! That and his old Burger King commercial! Unlike such dilettantes as the enormously attractive Jessica Simpson, Rucker is country deep in his heart and soul--and could probably sing the entire Nashville phonebook and make it sound exciting! Especially if I had a lot to drink!
Lindsey Buckingham: Gift Of Screws (Reprise) I have a confession to make! I'm an enormous fan of former Fleetwood Mac honcho Buckingham, but I haven't had the opportunity to hear this album yet! I just wanted to alert everyone to the fact that it's just been released! Wait--here's an idea: Why don't I pretend I've heard it and write a review anyway? Maybe I can start it with: "One thing's for sure, Stevie Nicks is gonna get a kick out of this album title!" Or how about: "Few suspected that Buckingham's little-known stint in federal prison would--thanks to the generosity of particularly hip prison guards--allow him to record the album of a lifetime!" Or maybe: "Buckingham's fixation on the various characters populating The Wizard Of Oz has taken him to some mighty strange places, but if this is his ode to the Tin Man, I can't wait 'til he gets to Auntie Em!" Nah--that would be stupid!
Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson: Rattlin' Bones (Sugar Hill) Here's a talented husband and wife team! Successful Australian artists with a unique take on "roots" country music, Chambers and Nicholson have crafted a wonderfully textured set that's startlingly mature and, um, quite good! Highlights include the title track, "Monkey On A Wire," and the song I'm listening to now! Though some in the States may perceive Chambers to be the Next Big Thing That Never Was, one listen to this record will change more than a few people's tunes! What say we hear music the way it's intended to be heard rather than in the manner nasty big record companies intend us to? And then have lunch!
Avenged Sevenfold: Live In The LBC & Diamonds In The Rough [CD/DVD](Reprise) A band with a rabid fan base, A7X--as they are called by rabid fans, basically--return with a hot new package featuring a CD filled with previously unreleased material and a DVD showcasing their performance at the Long Beach Arena earlier this year! Fully in evidence is their fabled raison d'être--like many of us, they are determined to fold a single sheet of paper a full seven times in front of a live audience--and a crafty methodology incorporating Haga's theorem and extremely loud music! But I still think the X-Men could take 'em!
Kristy Lee Cook: Why Wait (Arista) I guess if you're a fan of American Idol, you already know who Kristy Lee Cook is! I'm not, so here's a tip! Girls, show this album cover to any potential new boyfriend! If he looks at it, smiles, and says, "Yeah, this looks great," you've got a winner! If, on the other hand, he stares at the cover picture and title a little too long and then raises his eyebrows and grins slyly--drop him like a hot potato! Happy to help!
Jem: Down To Earth (ATO) In some ways like Jewel but even more precious, this Welsh-born lass has released a string of agreeable, sophisticated, ultimately pretty neat records. Here's another one! Genres left and right are satisfactorily explored, the album cover photo is sweet, and the ninth track is called "Aciiid"! In short, it's great!