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Let The Battle Begin!

New This Week

The industry's a-buzzin' about the showdown coming in just a few weeks--when 50 Cent and Kanye West release their long-awaited new albums on the same day!  If Kanye outsells me, then I will retire from the music business, sort of, declared Mr. Cent himself! It's so dramatic that I can barely stand it, and I'm sure you feel the same way!

Maybe it's just me, but ever since they passed that new law declaring that every recording artist's worth is directly proportional to the number of album he or she sells, I'm starting to wonder if the artists I like are, well, you know, popular enough! Like, I don't want to back any losers, you know what I mean?

I think to play it safe we should all buy copies of both of those guys' albums! You know, maintain the status quo! Like, why make waves? Who knows--maybe one day they'll buy us dinner or something!

Aiden: Conviction (Victory) I knew something was up with this lovable Seattle band when I noticed they actually credited the person who gives them tattoos on this album's liner notes! I mean, after all these years of artists thanking God and everything, it's about time some rockin' dudes thanked someone who counts! And at this point, I'm sure the tattoo guy is counting on a boatload of business because of that mention! So to get down to brass tacks, review-wise: Aiden look great!

M.I.A: Kala (Interscope) Had a great time interviewing this babe on her last album-go-round, which you can see here, but guess what? She's back and better than ever! Known to close friends as Maya Arulpragasam, M.I.A. is definitely not missing-in-action on the talent front, and her charisma and all-around way-outness will make her the subject of dinner discussion for months to come! Especially at the house of R&B singer Mya, who's got her own new album coming out next month and must be thrilled beyond belief that someone co-opted her zesty name during this precious pre-promotional period! All I know is, when I hear someone talking about Maya, I'm wondering if they mean the elephant! 

Swizz Beatz: One Man Band (Universal Motown) Sure to be a top seller, this dude's got the usual gang of producers here, including lovable Kanye West--and if that's not enough to sell three billion CDs, get this: also making an appearance are UK rockers Coldplay! To futher solidify this as a worthy project, Swizz's first single is the memorably titled "It's Me Bitches," which, all things considered, may harm his prospects of touring with Hannah Montana and the Cheetah Girls, if he was into something like that! And, I mean, why wouldn't he be, right?

Imperial Teen: The Hair, The TV, The Baby & The Band (Merge) This fab band's first new album in five years is excellent, and comes highly recommended. Not only by them, but by me too! Featuring former Faith No More guy-with-funny-name Roddy Bottum, this crew had a memorable semi-hit some years back with "Yoo Hoo"--and I'd be willing to bet that they'd change that song to "Ya Hoo" if the price was right! I just know they're rooting for Kanye!

Darren Hayes: This Delicate Thing We've Made (Powdered Sugar) The singer from Savage Garden is back, and between the name of his album and his record company, who wouldn't be thinking of what it's like to work at Krispy Kreme? I mean, not that Darren did, mind you--it's just that if he called his album Tape Up the Windows, Larry and it was on Earl Scheib Records, we'd be thinking about cars and stuff! Anyway, it says here that Darren is the third most popular Australian musical export of all time, and I'm inclined to agree! New double CD: great value for your money, especially if you buy it!

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Cartel: Cartel (Epic) All the way from Atlanta, Georgia comes the exciting Cartel, who in Yahoo! Musicland are already renowned for being Who's Next winners--check out their performance, human! Featuring a lead singer named Will Pugh--and no matter how you pronounce that last name, it's trouble--Cartel are so intrinsically groovy they coincidentally named their album after themselves, which seems no small matter now, but will trouble discographers of the future, mark my words! I'm betting it's a smash and so are their moms!

Rilo Kiley: Under The Blacklight (Brute/Beaute/WB) Not just everyone's favorite LA band with hip credentials, but everyone with hip credentials' favorite LA band, Rilo Kiley are cool indeed. With that last solo album by head Rilo Jenny Lewis causing a critical stir last time out, this is the album that--some with a knack for language say--is going to knock the ball out of the park! Digital music buyer alert: Comes in a classy purple jewel box that you can hold in your hands and everything!

John Surman: The Spaces In Between (ECM) Fair is fair, and this blog needs to cover the entire gamut of music, including both jazz and emo! In this case Brit saxophonist Surman--a longstanding reputable figure--plays delightfully esoteric and melodic jazz, accompanied by his bass-playing partner Chris Laurence and the charmingly named Trans4mation String Quartet. A beautiful album, and one surprisingly reminiscent of both 50 Cent and Kanye West: It's silver, round, and has a hole in the middle--just as theirs will!

Joe Nichols: Real Things (Universal South) Hey, while we're spreading the genre love, let's not ignore this new album by country dude Joe Nichols--his fourth, informed sources tell me, and one destined to be released this week! The same man who graciously gave us "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" this time offers a duet with Lee Ann Womack and such thematic diversions as "My Whiskey Years" and "Let's Get Drunk And Fight!" Real Things: New country album or bold existential tautology? You decide!

The New Pornographers: Challengers (Matador) Unlike the old pornographers, the new ones capitalize their name and come from Canada! With their previous Twin Cinema something of a "hit" in indieland, this new one features pal Neko Case singing on three tracks and could well be their best album ever, swear fervent fans who've heard it! I haven't, but I'm willing to believe in the inherent goodness of people, even if they're from Canada! Are you with me?

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