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New This Week

After that fabulous Superbowl show--just imagine, BruceSpringsteen, Jennifer Hudson and Faith Hill all in one place--and next week'sGrammy Awards, I, like you, think this may be the most exciting week in musichistory!

And indeed, it's this week--when music's movers and shakerscongregate in Los Angeles for their beloved awards ceremony--that they'll beanticipating the sales figures of this week's new releases, arguing whetherit's likely Melinda Doolittle will outsell Cannibal Corpse, and discussing whatexactly that whole "digital download" thing is in the first place!

True, there may be a few fistfights, and yes, some recordlabel folks won't feel comfortable having to hitchhike home due to ongoingbudget cuts, but one thing's for sure: When it comes to this week's newreleases--just like next week's Grammys--everyone'sa winner, baby!


The Fray: The Fray (Epic)  From seemingly out ofnowhere comes the Fray, the Denver-based band whose rise to internationalstardom came with their smash single "How To Save A Life," which mostpeople who stayed home and watched TV heard on Grey's Anatomy--while other more popular people went out andenjoyed living! Well, their new album's here and it's at least as good as thatlast one--in fact, I'd suggest it's even better--andif you like melodic rock with hooks galore, this is precisely the album youneed to pick up this very minute! In fact, if you're so inclined, please gohere this Wednesday (Feb. 4th) to watch a video stream of the band performing live at Webster Hall! It's all comingtogether marvelously!

Dierks Bentley: Feel That Fire (Capitol Nashville)  Youknow what? When I think of the grand tradition of Country Music, I think ofnames like Hank, Waylon, Willie, and Dolly. Sadly, the name "Dierks"doesn't really roll off the tongue quite so easily! But, of course, what's in aname? Give up? Letters! And yes,letters have been written left andright about Mr. Bentley's growing fanbase! Many have suggested that the already enormously popular, rising countrystar--who was nominated for a Grammy for his prior Long Trip Alone--may at thisvery moment be reaching his artistic zenith! With its catchy title trackand the interestingly titled "I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes" Iwouldn't be at all surprised! Get inon the action!

Melinda Doolittle:Coming Back To You (Hi-Fi)  I thinkthe entire world would be stunned if American Idol "reject"Doolittle decided to make her very first album a tribute to Bob Dylan's 1963 classic The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan--andtitle it after her favorite songs by Leonard Cohen, Maxine Brown and Mungo Jerryrespectively! Luckily, that's not the case at all! But sure enough, in thegrand Idol tradition, she's singing two Robert Johnson covers here! All inall, that's quite a last name!

Wynonna: Sing: Chapter 1 (Curb)  Referred to bysome as the album that "has become known as Wynonna's musicalDNA"--hopefully they weren't biochemists!--Sing: Chapter 1 is country star Judd's seventh solo album and anambitious one at that! Drawing from all the music that's ever inspired her,including multi-genre classics like "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry,""Anyone Who Had A Heart," "I Hear You Knocking" and"Ain't No Sunshine," the disc is well-sung, well-intentioned, and,well, out now! Rumors that a miniature stuffed poodle was repeatedly hurledin the air during the cover photo session are simply not well intended! Wynonna is topsin my book!

Leona Lewis: Spirit: The Deluxe Edition (J)  Certainlyone of 2008's major success stories was that of charming Leona Lewis, who'slikely to win an award or two this Sunday, and who in turn now awards uswith this "deluxe" edition of her solo album--newly bedecked with abunch of music videos and four previously-unreleased-in-the-U.S. tracks,including her UK #1 smash version of Snow Patrol's "Run." As anadditional bonus, the album comes with a cover featuring a great newpicture of the singer! Hey, she's quiteattractive!

Willie Nelson AndAsleep At The Wheel: Willie And TheWheel (Bismeaux)  Country legend Nelson's pairing with Western Swing champsAsleep At The Wheel was long in coming; apparently the team-up had beensuggested by distinguished record producer Jerry Wexler way back in the early '70s, but it never came tobe. If you're a fan of either artist--or Western Swing--you'll likely love thiscollection of classics; if, on the other hand, you dislike all three, youshould check out some of the latest DVDs at Blockbuster! I love this thing!

Original MotionPicture Soundtrack: He's Just NotThat Into You (New Line)  I'm completelyinto any movie that includes italics in its title--heck, I just listened toLisa Loeb's Cake And Pie last week--and I suspect this albumwill greatly appeal to fans of this movie! Just look at the line-up of artists:The Human League, R.E.M., the Replacements, the Cure, Corinne Bailey Rae, LilyAllen--it's a chick-flick attendee's dreamcome true!  So I guess those rumorsabout this film being based on a sex therapist's diagnosis were simply nasty and nothing more! Let's go see it!

Graham Nash: Reflections (Rhino)  A 3-CD collection byany solo artist might seem excessive, but in the case of Graham Nash--whosecareer began with the Hollies in the '60s and then fully bloomed in Crosby,Stills & Nash and their various permutations--it really just scratches thesurface. The man who supplied the high harmonies and pop hooks to CSN&Y--hewas writing "Marrakesh Express," "Our House," and"Teach Your Children" while his good pal David Crosby was singingabout almost cutting his hair--Nash is a sturdy and economical writer, and hiswork in this collected context sounds surprisingly impressive. You should buy it!

Asa: Asa (Downtown)  Very appealing Americandebut by a young French/Nigerian singer (pronounced Ah-Shah), this disc skirtsthe boundaries between pop and R&B and shows a worldly collection ofinfluences--American R&B, Jamaican and African among them--displaying aserious artist at work. Classic rock fans with poor vision: there is no"I" in this name. Palindromically spectacular!

Cannibal Corpse: Evisceration Plague (Metal Blade) Along-awaited CD/DVD set by everyone's favorite Brutal Death Metal band, thisfeatures great tracks like "To Decompose" and the surprisinglythoughtful "Skewered From Ear To Eye" and--ultimately--is a joythrough and through! "I think it's the tightest and most musicallycompetent record we've ever done," notes Corpse member Alex Webster."Not that the other ones weren't competent..." Oops! Out of room!

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