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.
Our two picks this week come from regular NAR contributors Tom Johnson and Donald Gibson.
One listen to Shara Worden's voice and it should come as no surprise that she's actually a trained singer, pulling off with ease the kinds of things most rock singers can only dream of attempting. Worden sounds just a bit operatic – but not so melodramatic, never fear – like a female Jeff Buckley, to whom she is often compared, along with Fiona Apple, Beth Gibbons (of Portishead), and Nina Simone. And that is a very good thing. Simply put, she has one of the most beautiful voices I have heard in rock.
The interesting thing about A Thousand Shark's Teeth is that while it is the second album of new material from Worden's "band" — which is really just her and the musicians she picks for the songs — the material on it was begun at the same time as the debut (Bring Me The Workhorse) and serves as kind of the other half of a split personality. While Workhorse represented her material prepared for a rock group setting, Shark's Teeth is all new material for a string quartet. Hopefully this album will garner more attention than her first, which seemed to get buried. With such an incredible voice and such a talent for beautiful melodies, it would be a real shame for more people to not get to experience this.
“I’m feeling pretty blank,” singer/songwriter Teddy Thompson admits on the title track of his fourth and latest album, A Piece Of What You Need, and if considered solely on his vocal performance, you’d likely come to the same conclusion. Yet his wry, solemn voice and witty lyrics create an intriguing paradox when set against some lively, often-jubilant music. Standout tracks include “One of These Days,” “In My Arms,” and “Can’t Sing Straight,” which hop, skip, and jump with quirky enthusiasm (and handclaps and horns). Thompson’s style here evokes those of Lyle Lovett and Chris Isaak, wherein rather pointed sentiments don’t always match such animated expression, but that’s what makes this album a peculiar delight.
Here are all of this week's new album releases courtesy of All Music Guide:
Viva la Vida
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
One of the Boys
Teen Pop, Pop/Rock
Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea
Alternative Country-Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Pacific Ocean Blue [Legacy Edition]
At Mount Zoomer
Indie Pop, Alternative Folk
The Azure Ensemble
Contemporary Chamber Music
Francesco Geminiani: Sonates pour violoncello avec la basse continue
Baroque Chamber Music
My Life the True Testimony
Southern Rap, Gangsta Rap
Stone of Sisyphus: XXXII
Pop/Rock, Adult Contemporary
Bedtime with the Beatles, Vol. 2
Pop Underground, Indie Pop, Chamber Pop, Alternative Pop/Rock
From Autumn to Ashes
Live at Looney Tunes
Screamo, Power Metal, Emo
For Your Consideration
Long Ago and Far Away: Kelly Harland Sings Jerome Kern
Vocal Jazz, American Popular Song
Rebecca Lynn Howard
Retro-Soul, Pop-Soul, Contemporary Country, Country-Rock, Blues-Rock, Rock & Roll
Tribute to Bobby [CD/DVD]
Blue-Eyed Soul, Adult Contemporary
Jersey Babys: The Music of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons for Kids
New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Album Rock, British Metal, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
King Khan & the Shrines
The Supreme Genius of King Khan & the Shrines
Garage Rock Revival, Garage Punk
Gladys Knight & the Pips
Pop-Soul, Funk, Soul
Love the Woman
Urban, Contemporary R&B
My Brightest Diamond
A Thousand Shark's Teeth
Dream Pop, Indie Rock
Experimental Rock, Jazz-Funk, Modern Creative, Funk, Jazz-Rock, Dub, Afro-Beat, Kraut Rock
The Devil, You + Me
Indie Electronic, Indie Rock
Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace
Alternative Pop/Rock, Punk Revival
Terry Riley: Keyboard Studies 1 & 2; Tread on the Trail
Contemporary Piano Music
Cherubini: Complete String Quartets
Classical Chamber Music
Contemporary Piano Music
Get Smart [2008 Score]
Ice Cream Spiritual!
We Are Free
Indie Rock, Post-Rock/Experimental
Reggie and the Full Effect
Last Stop: Crappy Town
Screamo, Indie Rock
Sittin' at a Bar
Rap-Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Southern Rap
Everything Is Everything [Bonus Tracks]
Bubble & Scrape
Indie Rock, Lo-Fi, Alternative Pop/Rock
A Piece of What You Need
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter
Tilly and the Wall
Death Before Dishonor
Neo-Traditional Folk, Contemporary Bluegrass, Traditional Bluegrass
The War on Drugs