So what's the big news this week?
That would be Coldplay, Coldplay, and Coldplay.
The truth is, all hype aside, Capitol really needs the big week that I'm sure they are counting on with this one. Because as big as Coldplay's 2005 release X&Y may have been, the backlash which soon followed was equally, if not even more huge.
Overnight, it seemed that Coldplay went from being everyone's favorite British pop export, to the now more common punchline of how admitting to liking them was a telltale sign of your gayness. Lead singer Chris Martin even addresses this rather humorously in Rolling Stone's current cover story on the band.
The truth is, tendencies towards occasionally overblown production, and whiny Chris Martin falsettos aside (like we weren't already aware of those minor annoyances when it was still considered cool to like them), I'm one of the few people I know who will still readily admit to quite enjoying X&Y.
On Viva La Vida (or Death And All His Friends), Coldplay have enlisted producer Brian Eno, and the result is a record that at times seems to be trying a little too hard to beat U2 at their own game. Several songs on this record begin with the sort of moody atmospherics, with chink-a-chinking guitars slowly bubbling to the surface that characterized U2's Joshua Tree. At times you almost half expect to hear the words "I want to run...I wanna hide..." break out at any second. So to answer that question, the similarities you'd expect with Eno twisting the knobs for a band who already wear those influences on their sleeves are here in abundance.
The good news here though, is that as early reports indicated, Coldplay are also stretching themselves more musically here (the album even opens with an instrumental). They also seem to be otherwise breaking out of their usual trademark overwrought arena rock (well, at least somewhat). It's still a bit early to tell, but minor quibbles aside, I really like this album so far.
Other big releases this week include Judas Priest back with frontman Rob Halford for Nostradamus, and the Offspring's return to active duty on Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace. A rather famous 1972 Santa Monica show from Ziggy-era David Bowie was also supposed to come out this week, but reliable sources inform me that one has been bumped to July.