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New This Week

A healthy array of new releases makes this one of the best new album release weeks in memory!

With returning superstars, exciting new artists, welcome reissues, and the newest batch of American Idol humans, it's time to stop wondering whether you've outgrown the music business and really prefer computers--and instead put your money where your mouth is!

Additionally, once buying these exciting new releases, you can actually play some of them, if you'd like!

As always, though, if unopened, they serve equally well as pure art objects!

 

Them Crooked Vultures: Them Crooked Vultures (Interscope)  Why not start off with this week's biggest new surprise--a so-called "supergroup" that unexpectedly delivers the goods and doesn't work for Pizza Hut! Consisting of Foo Fighter Dave Grohl, head Queen Of The Stoneage Josh Homme and Led Zeppelin's bass legend John Paul Jones, this unlikely trio takes its cues from Homme's better QOTSA moments and, with the super-duper rhythm section provided by Jones and Grohl, rocks it bigtime! Loud, melodic, and borrowing descending vocal harmonies last heard on the first Cream album (on the radio friendly "Scumbag Blues"), this band may be the most interesting project any of this trio has been involved in since anyone last checked! The only downside? Clearly, someone should have told them that the proper modifier should have been "Those" instead of "Them"! Poor John Paul Jones--first "Led" Zeppelin and now this!

Scumbag Blues - Them Crooked Vultures 

John Mayer: Battle Studies (Columbia)  I find it increasingly difficult to find any fault whatsoever with John Mayer! He is musically adept, he writes very pleasant songs, his many albums always feature excellent musicians, he's extremely witty and intelligent, as his famous Twitter feed indicates--and, for added fun, he appears capable of establishing a relationship with any beautiful female he so desires! Perhaps he has been created to make all of this planet's other males feel comparatively inferior! What say we simply destroy him, suggest that all other young male performers would instead prefer to emulate Nickelback, then swoop in and pick up whatever he's left untouched? Just a thought! Nice record, dude, even though a complete album devoted to obscure French and Indian war encounters isn't what anybody actually requested!

Who Says - John Mayer 

Norah Jones: The Fall (Blue Note)  A pretty groovy album from the former piano-playing songbird who stole the hearts and minds of an entire generation then inexplicably left them in her car! Putting the piano conspicuously in the background, Ms. Jones appears to be focusing on writing and singing her songs, which are dandy, and realizing the dream of many of us--which is to say, appearing on the cover of her album wearing a top hat and in the company of a St. Bernard! Opening track "Chasing Pirates" sets the stage for an album loaded with thought, precision, emotion--and in a unexpected twist, that album may actually be hers! The final irony? The dog was once in Guns N' Roses!

Chasing Pirates - Norah Jones 

50 Cent: Before I Self-Destruct (Aftermath/Interscope)  It's hard not to admire 50 Cent, who after all this time still seems a likeable, streetwise multi-millionaire just like you and me, but taller! Boasting a fabulous album cover--reportedly inspired by a troubling encounter with a fortune teller in Pittsburgh--Before I Self Destruct comes packaged with a bonus DVD that is an actual movie made by the man himself, intriguing tunes like the Dr. Dre-produced "OK You're Right" and guest stars like Eminem, R. Kelly and someone else! In short, it's all we've come to expect from guys who have famously been shot many, many times and then made a fortune selling their energy drink to Coca-Cola!

OK, You're Right (Album Version (Edited)) - 50 Cent 

Kris Allen: Kris Allen (19/Jive)  There's a school of thought that says if you're repeatedly hammered in the forehead with a sharp nail in a completely non-lethal manner, after a while, you come to not only expect the hammering, but to appreciate the actual gradations in the experience--the sharpness of the nail, the slickness of the steel, the firmness of the blow, the regularity of the experience, etc. That said, this year's American Idol winner Kris Allen's new album is great!

Live Like We're Dying - Kris Allen 

Leona Lewis: Echo (J/Syco)  By some accounts the best-selling new artist of 2008, the lovely Ms. Lewis is renowned for taking no two pictures that look similar--seriously, check it out!--having a dandy voice, and selling records that appeal to man, woman and child alike! Her second album, co-produced by the powerhouse "taste team" of Clive Davis and Simon Cowell, is loaded with suitable material that will offend no one while showing off Lewis's dazzling vocal abilities and emptying your pockets simultaneously! Lewis's collaborators include Ne-Yo, John Shanks, Max Martin and all the rest of the gang, and she'd probably really be into your buying this album if you have a moment! Frankly, I like the way she looks!

Happy - Leona Lewis 

Paul McCartney: Good Evening New York City CD/DVD (Hear Music/Concord)  It's kind of amazing that stuff like this happens--that a famous ex-Beatle can effectively return to the "revamped" Shea Stadium 44 years after his famous band made history there, play many of that band's same songs as well as his many of his own big hits, and offer up the whole shebang--with a full DVD of the experience--to consumers later that same year! His band is fine, his voice his great, he looks in top shape, and it's as if nothing has changed in the interim! And if you buy the ultra super-expensive Time Traveler edition from this website, nothing has! Technology flips me out!

Drive My Car (Live at CitiField, NYC - Digital Audio) - Paul McCartney 

The Doors: Live In New York (Rhino)  It would not be unreasonable to think all the music worth hearing by the Doors must have been issued by now, but this 6-CD set would prove you very wrong indeed! Recorded at New York's Felt Forum during the band's 1970 tour--shortly before the rockin' Morrison Hotel would hit the streets, but after the band's "legal troubles" in Miami took place--this set purports to contain every note the Doors played during four shows at the venue, and appears to do just that, in remarkable quality! Additionally, the "you are there" aspect of the set allows charismatic Jim Morrison the opportunity to offer up timeless between-song chatter such as: "Did  you ever hear the one about the blind man who walked past the fish store? You know what he said? 'Hi, girls!'" Clearly, Bono and Chris Martin were listening!

Easter Monkeys: Splendor Of Sorrow (Smog Veil)  A quick word here for the surprising release of the works of the Easter Monkeys, one of Cleveland's better bands of the early '80s and one that's gone comparatively unsung for too long! Featuring members Chris Yarmock (of the Kneecappers), Jim Jones (later of Pere Ubu), Charlie Ditteaux and Linda Hudson, the band played music that sounds both "far-out," relatively speaking, and contemporary even today! As an extra bonus: a DVD featuring a 1982 live gig! Between this release, a Tin Huey package and a new album by the still-wonderful Pere Ubu, the highly likable Smog Veil label seems intent on resuscitating the reputation of great Ohio bands who've perhaps been out of the spotlight too long and have lots of time on their hands! Dudes, drive up to Detroit and buy real estate!

Nailed To The Cross - Easter Monkeys 

Kid Sister: Ultraviolet (Fool's Gold/Downtown)  One of this week's better albums, Ultraviolet features guests like Estelle, Cee-Lo, DJ Gant-Man, and Kanye West! And perhaps predictably, Taylor Swift is nowhere to be seen! Darn his vendetta!

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