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50 vs. Kanye vs. Kenny vs. Colossal Youth!

New This Week

Wow! Am I ever energized! Must be because I inadvertently watched some of the MTV Music Awards ceremony a little while ago--and now I am more enthused than ever about today's fabulous pop music scene! Talk about feeling at one with my peeps! This may be the best time in the history of music!

But of course the drama's not over. Because this is the week that starts the Battle Royale of 2007's record sales! Will 50 Cent sell more copies of his new album than Kanye West? Will Kanye West sell more copies of his new album than 50 Cent? Will Kenny Chesney surprise everyone and beat them both with his new album? Will the world suddenly, tragically explode and thus deprive us all of the resolution to this grim and historic struggle?

Hah! No way!

And now on to the good stuff!

50 Cent: Curtis (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope) Well, as we all know, the quality of any album is completely a function of how many unrelated guest stars can be crammed onto it, so Mr. Cent's album must be a masterpiece! Featuring Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Akon, Justin Timberlake and the Pusscat Dolls' Nicole Scherzinger, the album may unwittingly be handicapped by the absence of Yo-Yo Ma, Enrico Caruso, Albert King and that fat kid that sat behind you in fifth grade! There's absolutely no doubt that they'll be celebrating the 40th anniversary of this album's release in 40 years, and I for one can't wait to hear it! Maybe I'll buy it!

Kanye West: Graduation (Def Jam) Jeez, even as I type this my computer is spewing up news reports that Kanye West was badmouthing Britney Spears' appearance on the MTV Awards tonight! Can't everyone just leave her alone? Apparently the latest in a thematic series of West records, Graduation follows Late Registration and The College Dropout and--one assumes--precedes Disturbing Sales Decline, Late Night Ravings At The Bar, Used To Be Famous, Don't You Recognize Me?, and eerie series closer Who Was Your Financial Advisor? Anyway, I expect this to be the Album Of The Century and better than anything I've ever heard!  I'll probably get it!

Kenny Chesney: Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates (BNA) As we all know, Kenny Chesney sells oodles of records just like the other clownheads above, so most industry observers people are suggesting that it would be "poetic justice" if countryboy Chesney's album actually sold more units than your favorite rappers and mine.  I don't know--to me it would be poetic justice if a billboard bearing the words "There Were Three Men From Nantucket" mysteriously fell on all three of 'em! Yeah, wow! That said, I'm sure this record will be great!

Ann Wilson: Hope & Glory (Zoe/Rounder) If you regard the current music scene as a bummer, surely you'll be anticipating this first-ever solo effort by a true "golden oldie," Ann Wilson of femme rockers Heart!  And surely you'll be digging on a guest list that includes sister Nancy Wilson, Elton John, k.d. lang, Gretchen Wilson, Shawn Colvin, Wynonna, Rufus Wainwright, and that fifth grade kid I mentioned a few albums ago! Sadly, however, when you take a gander at the repertoire here--cover songs that were played too much on the radio for the past 30 years or so--you'll wonder what's on TV!

Shout Out Louds: Our Ill Wills (Merge) Yikes! I just pulled up this band's biography on our site and was greeted by an ad asking in big letters "Ever Feel Trapped By Frequent Diarrhea?" Hopefully, since they're "indie-pop hopefuls" from Sweden, they've never even heard of Imodium! Unlike their rockin' first album, the Shout Out Louds' new set sounds surprisingly Cure-like--and mid-period Cure at that, not an era often imitated. It's quite good, and I would suggest you buy this instead of 50 Cent and Kanye West, then find someone you want to impress and tell them you did precisely that!  It's a surefire way to win big!

Black Francis: Bluefinger (Cooking Vinyl) A new solo album by the former leader of the Pixies is always an event, especially if you're a fan of the band and don't spend too much time fretting about the fact that 1) His name really isn't "Black Francis" and 2) He's a human, not a pixie! To be honest, I was never as hot on this guy's old band as most of my friends were, but nowadays they've stopped buying albums and here I am wondering if making a James Bond reference is simply too dopey! Life is change--how it differs from the rocks! All hail Black Francis, whose new album is a stunning change of pace and, coincidentally, out now!

Young Marble Giants: Colossal Youth (Domino) Now you're talking--a 3-CD collection of this ultracool Brit band's complete works! Rare radio sessions! Everything that you'll ever need to prove your worth as a music consumer and music fan! From the same label that's bringing you Franz Ferdinand, the Arctic Monkeys and the Triffids reissues! Smooth, soothing, moody music with odd edges--actually covered by Courtney Love, which I state as fact, not compliment! Playing in Paris next month, no lie! Mysteriously absent from this year's VMA's!

The Go! Team: Proof Of Youth (Sub Pop) Now on a new record label, this energetic mass of humans from Brighton, England, are better than many other similar masses of humans. This new album carries on in the same high-intensity range that its predecessor did and even boasts a guest appearance from America's own Chuck D., which in many ways is better than his conspicuous absence. Looking for something to do? Go buy it and play it in your car! That's what I'd do!

Joe Henry: Civilians (Anti) Funny how while the media focuses on the dorky side of the business--like, I mean, who really cares if 50 Cent sells more records than Kanye West?--guys like Joe Henry keep plugging away, putting out little jewels of records, like this one certainly is. Jammed with excellent players (including Bill Frisell, Greg Leisz and even Van Dyke Parks) and mature songs of significant depth, Civilians may be one of the year's best records--and I doubt you're going to hear very much about it. If only he was related to someone famous!

Simian Mobile Disco: Attack Decay Sustain Release (Interscope) The so-called Infinite Monkey Theorem holds that if an infinite number of monkeys were given an infinite number of typewriters, eventually one of them would produce the complete works of William Shakespeare!

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