Holy smokes! Usually when I spotlight new releases, there are three or four major discs of interest, a few more that seem promising, and one or two with nice covers!
But this week there's simply too much great stuff!
And of course if I were to simply say that every new album was great, what sort of critic would I be?
Pink: Funhouse (La Face/Zomba) It's hard not to admire Pink for her sheer ability, sense of fun and daring, and literal ownership of a part of the color spectrum! Her new album features the single "So What" and includes a heady batch of collaborators including Max Martin, Butch Walker and Billy Mann, among others. It's kind of neat! As always, Pink skirts the outer limits of danger here--but perhaps wisely has avoided the tempting trap of following her previous album I'm Not Dead with one called Oops, Now I Am for kicks! In sum, any woman who knows full well that by calling herself "Pink" she will force any potential male fan to utter the words "I like Pink" is OK by me!
Toby Keith: That Don't Make Me A Bad Guy (Show Dog Nashville) Getting a new album by Toby Keith is always cause for celebration in my house, especially when we all try to interpret the meanings of his great songs! In this case, I'm kind of bowled over by the title track, which as far as I can tell was the result of his getting an overdue notice from his local library for keeping If I Ran The Zoo and Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus well past their due date! Dude, I'm sure all of us agree that you've got a lot on your plate, and having an overdue library book is much less of a big deal than, say, not telling your cable company that you're getting extra channels you're not paying for! They're all winners, but "You Already Love Me" may be the most gripping track!
Queen + Paul Rodgers: The Cosmos Rocks (Hollywood) It's difficult to argue with the title of this, the first new album to bear the Queen name since Freddie Mercury's death, since by all indications, the Cosmos does rock! But though "Queen" comes first, it's the vocal talent of Paul Rodgers--formerly of Free, Bad Company and the Firm--that's front and center on most of these recordings! Fans of Rodgers' singular talent will be overjoyed by what they hear here, but those who admired the multi-tracked excesses of Queen at their best might find much of this more basic than they'd hoped for. Still, as many have noted, had the band called themselves "King," "Prince" or even "Rex"--as some were hoping--more than a few German Shepherds might have taken offense!
John Legend: Evolver (G.O.O.D. Music/Columbia) I'm a big fan of John Legend and think he's one of the most talented musicians playing music at the moment, and I'm pleased to report that this album yet another step upward for the man! Featuring such talents as the marvelous Estelle, Andre 3000, and Kanye West--whom I'm told is quite good--this is polished, well-played music that bears the stamp of sophistication in the figurative sense and approaches the perfection of the Beatles' Revolver in the alphabetical sense! Plus, you've got to figure a guy named "Legend" who makes records for a label called "G.O.O.D. Music" can't be bad, or there'd be a lawsuit!
Snow Patrol: A Hundred Million Suns (Polydor/Fiction) Though one-hit wonders come and go, bands like Snow Patrol--who've really been at it for some time now--continue to show increased strength with each and every new record they make. This, their fifth--which doesn't even count singer Gary Lightbody's work with the Reindeer Section--is packed to the brim with wonderfully textured, melodic songs that carry with them a sort of understated drive that truly makes them unique. Plus, after hearing about this album for several months, many longtime fans are pleased to discover that the album title's "Suns" is actually spelled with a "U." They may be more famous than ever, but using an "O" would've been unseemly!
Lady Gaga: The Fame (Interscope) I'm a bit taken with Lady Gaga, whose blend of pop, dance and R&B carries with it a high level of sophistication both in terms of influence and application. Plus, she's hot! Though her bio mentions such names as Peggy Bundy and Donatella Versace--whose CDs, I must admit, I've never heard--and her album contains tracks like "Boys Boys Boys"--which, candidly, you should be careful listening to when driving around with your windows open--she's accessible in the very best sense and often wears sunglasses! Marry her!
The Cure: 4:13 Dream (Suretone) Having been a fan of the Cure from the get-go, I was a bit puzzled when I found no need to listen to the many singles that preceded the release of this album! Had I grown tired of this great band after all this time? Had in fact the mixture of melody and subtlety that marked all of their early, best work up to, say, The Head On The Door slowly and inexorably faded, leaving nothing but a meager, thrashing husk of what once was? Nope, I was just fixated on the first three Hawkwind albums! I'm over it now and plan to get into this new album as soon as this movie's over!
Kaiser Chiefs: Off With Their Heads (Universal) Though I've always given the Kaiser Chiefs credit for being a brash and catchy, popular newish Brit band, I've never quite made the leap to total fandom. But this new disc gets top marks for the enormously catchy track "Addicted To Drugs," which boasts the compelling lyrical couplet "You might as well face it / You're addicted to drugs" and repeats it gloriously, interminably, and, in all, quite admirably! It's catchy!
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals: Cardinology (Lost Highway) Today's new Adams album seems a bit better than yesterday's, but not as good as last Friday's! Word is, though, that this Thursday's is really going to be hot! This is getting great!