It's a week of spectacular returns! Just ask anybody working behind the counter at a record store! Yep, this week's awe-inspiring release schedule includes the latest from some longtime big names, some unexpectedly groovy discs from former teen faves, and also... Sum 41! All things considered, life could only be better were it I who'd penned the new slogan for Capt. Morgan's Rum--which I saw on a billboard today and am compelled to include here if only to praise its sheer artistry:
"What Rum Would Drink If Rum Could Drink Rum."
Dude: Who says it can't?
Prince: Planet Earth (Columbia) He's back, he's playing in tiny hotels, and he's giving his album away to English people who buy newspapers! Yes, it's the fabulous Prince, and his new record is actually very good indeed. Were I the sort of guy who coached careers for a living, I do believe I'd tell the guy that all he really needs now to be back on top is an actual hit record. Because people generally like him but--let's be honest--can't even name a single new song he's written in years. Heck, then I'd probably ask him if he and Queen Latifah were related because of that name thing! Incidentally, judging from that album cover, he's grown a few inches! Cool!
Hanson: The Walk (3CG) If you keep track of stuff like this, here's the scoop: Hanson were a bunch of kiddie brothers who had a fab hit with "MMMbop" that some people liked and others didn't but it didn't matter. And then they didn't go away. Now every review of their new records spends too much time talking about whether liking them should be a "guilty pleasure" or not. Just like this one's doing! So let's mix things up a bit: Hanson are from outer space, like the color burnt sienna best, and collectively share the same set of lungs! This record's pretty good, but like, in light of all that, wow!
Talib Kweli: Ear Drum (Blacksmith/Warner Bros.) With a list of producers including the marvelous likes of Kanye West and will.i.am, there's every indication Mr. Kweli's new album will be just as good as every other album those guys have had a hand in during the past three years. That's right, all 374 of 'em! But then again, Ear Drum features guest appearances from both Norah Jones and Jean Grae, and you know what they say about albums that feature special guests! Prediction: Ear Drum can't be beat!
Silverchair: Young Modern (Eleven Music) Now here's a group that has continued to improve with every album! Is it any wonder their label has stuck with them through thick and thin? Huh? It is? With a guest appearance by cult biggie Van Dyke Parks and a diverse array of very excellent tuneage, Silverchair should be commended for never really repeating themselves, actually striving to improve with each album, blah-blah-blah. For that matter, bandleader Daniel Johns should also be commended for marrying Natalie Imbruglia a couple of years ago, too! Dude!
Sum 41: Underclass Hero (Island) You can watch a video of Sum 41 performing an Oasis track here, or, if you're like me, you can wonder what exactly the term "underclass hero" means. Is it like "Working Class Hero," but by American guys? Did the band go to a two-story high school? And was there somebody downstairs doing something really cool at the precise moment their math teacher declared: "And that sum is 41"? Well, the only way we'll ever find out is by listening to this thing! Oh, wait a minute--is that my phone?
The Doors: The Doors At Boston Arena (Bright Midnight Archives/Rhino) Wow! Three discs of unreleased live Doors, all pretty hot, capped by a lead singer who...well, according to drummer John Densmore in the liner notes: "Jimbo is ripped!" Yee-hah! Featuring two complete 1970 shows, the band itself plays especially well; it must've been interesting backing up you-know-who on nights like this. And for anyone who thought the Doors were losing their commercial edge: Check out unreleased track "Adolf Hitler." Pop radio--where were you?
Lonnie Jordan: War Stories (Fantasy/Concord): The first solo album in years from one of the founding members of War--a band whose music sounds better with every passing year--this disc includes some covers of War tracks (including "The World Is A Ghetto") as well as the Stones ("Paint It Black" and Jimi Hendrix ("Third Stone From The Sun"). Glad to see the man still making records, equally glad he's on a good label, and--as they say back east--glad that War is in the news again!
Manic Street Preachers: Send Away The Tigers (Red Ink) The former next big things that never were--at least here in rockin' America--have returned with a relatively strong album that will surprise many! Especially the evil zookeepers who've been keeping them prisoner for the past three years! Like, I'm not into psychoanalyzing today's wacky pop scene, but is that album title a cry for help or what?
Tiny Vipers: Hands Across The Void (Sub Pop) With a name like Tiny Vipers, you'd expect a solo acoustic female singer-songwriter named Jesy Fortino--and that's just what you'll get here, on her classy Sub Pop debut! And with an album title like Hands Across The Void, you'd expect an album full of tracks that sound like Paul McCartney songs, only emptier! Yep. Then you'd notice that you need a haircut! Weird!
Tegan And Sara: The Con (Sire/Vapor) Produced by Death Cab For Cutie's Chris Walla, this new set by rising-star duo Tegan and Sara should be big news. Not least because when people buy it and return it, condescending record store employees will ask them if they noticed the album's name! Critics agree: This CD is what CDs would listen to if CDs could buy CDs!