It's a healthy week for new releases, as some of today's best and brightest new artists mix it up with welcome returns from veterans like Teena Marie, Sonic Youth and Iron Maiden!
Unfortunately, it appears that precisely what these artists are mixing up may not be what we anticipated!
In an unexpected twist, most of them have gathered in the kitchen and are making a great big bundt cake!
"Frankly, we all just like that cake's name," confided one artist who shall remain nameless but plays in a famous heavy metal band and has a pilot's license. "Have you seen the spatula?"
Also there's a new Black Eyed Peas album!
Black Eyed Peas: The E.N.D. (A&M/Interscope) I don't think anyone would have suspected a few years back that the Black Eyed Peas would be releasing one of the year's most anticipated albums, but with the smash success of their #1 hit "Boom Boom Pow," the much-loved combo now seems a stronger commercial entity than ever! While it's too soon to decide whether any track here will measure up to the band's all-time artistic peak--the fascinating "My Humps"--there's lots to digest and probably lots of time to digest it! After all, the album's title is really an acronym standing for "Energy Never Dies," and there's so much energy in the grooves here that this album will likely sound great forever! Just as Mariah Carey drove home a similarly fascinating scientific fact with her masterful E=MC2, I'm thinking the Peas are demonstrating that addictive beats and the quest for knowledge are often one and the same! Of course, I might be overthinking it!
Boom Boom Pow-Black Eyed Peas
Sonic Youth: The Eternal (Matador) In the same manner that German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen once explored the boundaries of musical tradition with his classic Gesang der Jünglinge (translation: "Song Of The Youths"), Sonic Youth make records, too! Lots of them! Here's a new one, and it not only sounds good, it--like the Black Eyed Peas and Mariah Carey--carries a title laden with meaning in the mathematical, philosophical and spiritual realms! Or else it's just a tribute to the Isley Brothers! But now, finally away from the clutches of the major label that made them compromise their uniqueness and record nothing but pop hits, the highly respected alternative rock legends have stretched out for a 16th album that is considerably better than most other alternative rock legends' 16th albums! Incidentally, squirting bottled paint on a cardboard square and placing it on a rotor at a flea market booth for a dollar would not result in cool cover art like this! I'm betting "Anti-Orgasm" will be the hit!
Teena Marie: Congo Square (Stax) Just the other day I was listening to Teena Marie's "Lover Girl" in my car and, admittedly, was quite animated while listening to it! Imagine my chagrin when, at a red light, I looked over to the car on my left and noticed two teenage girls staring at me and laughing! But I'll happily look like a buffoon when it comes to listening to Teena Marie, who is one of my all-time favorite singers, and whose new album features 16 very solid tracks that can't help but bolster her reputation as one of pop music's greatest unsung heroes! Featuring appearances by Faith Evans, MC Lyte, Howard Hewitt and Shirley Murdock, Congo Square is a lush, sophisticated work brimming with marvelous vocals and memorable arrangements! It's just the sort of thing you might want to listen to as you drive up and down the streets of your neighborhood, looking for a car!
Can't Last A Day-Teena Marie
The Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca (Domino) This is a fascinating new album from the mind of Dave Longstreth, a former Yale student--which I mention only for the many who might, on the basis of this album's title, assume him to be a German whale lover! I don't think he is! His group's second album for the fabulous Domino label, Bitte Orca is a fascinating, intelligent, comparatively lesser lo-fi product than any of the man's previous work, and pretty emotionally intricate stuff! Among the disc's highlights are tracks "Cannibal Resource," "Useful Chamber," and a cover picture featuring a colorful struggle between dueling telepaths! I'm betting the girl on the right will win! Buy this!
Cannibal Resource-The Dirty Projectors
Iron Maiden: Flight 666 (Sony Legacy) At this stage of the game, how can anyone not love everything that Iron Maiden stands for? Especially when you don't have to listen to them! An incredible two CD set--also available on DVD--this features live performances by the gang recorded, quite literally, all over the world! Even New Jersey! With a total of 17 tracks from such far away locales as India, Brazil, Japan, Australia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Chile and exotic Canada, Flight 666 is bound to be your passport to metal pleasure! And is it mere coincidence they decided to record "The Number Of The Beast" in Los Angeles? Like the Dixie Chicks, but guys!
Los Amigos Invisibles: Commercial (Nacional) A superb, surprisingly accessible album from this distinguished Venezuelan group, known to most in the USA via their work for David Byrne's Luaka Bop label. If you hear it, you're likely to love their spicy mixture of dance, jazz, funk and pop--"Vivire Para Ti" being one of many instant standouts here--and if you don't, you'll just go about your business mindlessly, gradually losing interest in your surrounding and finally looking inward toward a cold and fearful abyss! Maybe! Buy it so that you'll live and enjoy a fruitful, productive life! Also, "Plastic Woman" is pretty hip!
Vivire Para Ti-Los Amigos Invisibles
Elizabeth And The Catapult: Taller Children (Verve Forecast) An appealing major label debut from this New York-based group, led by singer Elizabeth Zimon and juiced up here by producer Mike Mogis, whose work with Bright Eyes and Rilo Kiley has resulted in the creation of this dependent clause! Sure to please fans of women singers, tall people, and those who naturally gravitate toward the most recent signings of the Verve Forecast label, Taller Children is better than the work of every emo band but Silverstein! And I'm not the first person to notice it!
Race You-Elizabeth And The Catapult
Stardeath & White Dwarfs: The Birth (Reprise) Now you're talking! Oklahoma steps out! A great debut album from Stardeath, who with close personal acquaintances the Flaming Lips covered Madonna's "Borderline" on that record nobody ever saw! And it was great! This is even more psychedelic--deliberately so--and like the Lips, and, say, the most recent album by Mercury Rev, it's loaded with subtleties, flying colors, dreamy melodies, and the sense that in dreams begin responsibilities! Also, the cover is kind of sexy!
I Can't Get Away-Stardeath & White Dwarfs
Placebo: Battle For The Sun (Vagrant) Thematically at one with Stardeath & White Dwarfs, the fabulously undersung Placebo return on a brand new label with a rocking collection produced by Dave Bottrill and mixed by Alan Moulder! That must mean something to somebody! With a brand new drummer and a handy-dandy collection of upbeat tracks like "Kitty Litter" and "Breathe Underwater," chipper-voiced Brian Molko--this generation's Geddy Lee--leads the charge into the minds and hearts of a brand new audience aching to latch on to music and lyrics that mean something to them personally! Perhaps this will be the album that propels them to the very top of the music business! You know you want it!