It's the calm before the storm.
With the Christmas buying season just around the corner, the record labels have a lot of catching up to do if they have any hope of salvaging what has so far — to give it as polite a spin as possible — been a very quiet year.
In the weeks just ahead, we already know about the new albums on the way from Metallica and AC/DC. As we get further into fall, you can expect those to be followed by U2, The Killers, and Beyonce to name just a few. The rumor mill is also floating something from Eminem, the actual release of that decade-in-the-making Guns N' Roses record, and possibly an EP with the leftovers of Coldplay's Viva La Vida sessions with Brian Eno.
So this fall promises to be interesting if nothing else.
In the meantime, I can't think of a better way to soak up those last remaining rays of summer than with a new Brian Wilson album, and especially one with a title like That Lucky Old Sun. This one sounds particularly promising as it is being touted as another of Wilson's ambitious "theme works" along the lines of Pet Sounds and Smile.
Even better, the subject matter celebrates all those time honored Beach Boys things like summer and sunshine in songs like "Forever My Surfer Girl." That Lucky Old Sun comes in both standard CD and deluxe formats (the latter includes a DVD), as well as on vinyl. Wilson can be hit and miss at times, but this album sounds like it could be a great one.
Elsewhere in the record store this week, you'll find a brand new album from eighties boy band New Kids On The Block, who are all grown up now and back together for one last grab at the brass ring. Movie star Terrence Howard (Hustle And Flow, Crash) tries his hand at the music game with the R&B flavored Shine Through It. Young Jeezy gets a bit more serious than his usual mix of club and gangsta' rap on his politically themed The Recession.
Jefferson Starship (or whatever these guys are calling themselves these days) gather most of their original members, including Paul Kantner and Marty Balin, for what sounds on the surface like a rather interesting modern folk-rock experiment on Jefferson's Tree of Liberty. Electro dance pioneers The Chemical Brothers gather a collection of their biggest dancefloor hits on Brotherhood.
Donald Gibson joins us this week to talk about the new one from Rodney Crowell. Meanwhile, Mark Saleski's heart is all a-twitter over the new Southside Johnny album of Tom Waits cover tunes. But we'll let Mr. Saleski himself speak on this.
This release has been a rumor for years now. There would be occasional mentions on the Internet from the man himself, first about how LaBamba was working on the charts, then about the sessions that had to be fit in between the busy schedules, then about distribution deals. Geez, fans don't care about that stuff, they just want the music!
Seriously, it feels a little like a dream. When I first heard Tom Waits many years ago, wailing away on the radio about pasties, g-strings, and other stuff, I had no idea how much the man's music would affect me. Southside Johnny seemed a little more concrete, being attached to the whole Jersey coast/soul thing. The fact that one of my favorite artists (Southside) is so into another on that same list, well… it somehow validates my love for both of these guys.
Oh, but wait 'til you hear the transformations of these Waits tunes. His songs have always been big in terms of character. While the big band versions make no attempt at replacing the originals, it's fun to hear the 'big' stepped up to 'huge.'
An assiduous songwriter, Rodney Crowell is one of that diminishing breed of artists who pay allegiance more to their craft than to any particular genre or style. Artists ranging from Keith Urban (“Making Memories of Us”), Emmylou Harris (“Even Cowgirls Get the Blues”), and Bob Seger (“Shame On the Moon”) have covered his works, underscoring his versatile skill. On his latest album, Sex and Gasoline, Crowell adeptly threads themes of intimacy, mortality, politics, religion, and women into a cohesive, mature narrative. Blustery acoustics and sparse arrangements suit his pensive vocals, rendering this seasoned troubadour as if delivering a soliloquy while ominous music swirls in the shadows.
Here are all of this week's new album releases courtesy of All Music Guide:
Shine Through It
Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
New Kids on the Block
That Lucky Old Sun
Southern Rap, Gangsta Rap
Shall Noise Upon
Pop Underground, Neo-Psychedelia
John Baker Tapes, Vol. 2: Soundtracks, Library, Home Recording, Electro Ads
Television Music, Original Score, Electronic
From the Mountain to the Sea
Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock
Bone Thugs N Harmony/Layzie Bone/A.K./Do or Die
Hardcore Rap, Urban
The Inevitable Continuing
The Chemical Brothers
Big Beat, Funky Breaks, Electronica, Trip-Hop, House, Club/Dance, Left-Field House
Sex and Gasoline
Work Song/Yep Roc
Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Folk-Rock
Dean & Britta
L' Avventura [Bonus Tracks]
Lou Takes Off
Mexican Folk, Latin Folk, Latin Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Rock en Español, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Ranchera, Norteño, Cumbia, Funk
Juan Diego Florez
Bel Canto Spectacular
Italian Opera Arias
Alternative Country-Rock, Americana
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1
Romantic Piano Concertos
Crossover Jazz, Jazz-Funk
Jefferson's Tree of Liberty
Album Rock, Arena Rock, Pop/Rock, Hard Rock, Adult Contemporary
Just a Rolling Stone
Club/Dance, Urban, Dance-Pop
Smetana: Má vlast; Symphonic Poems
Romantic Orchestral Music
Indie Electronic, Electronica
Hank Mobley Quintet [Bonus Tracks]
Dr. Stan's Prescription, Vol. 1
Jam Bands, American Trad Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
Olivia Newton-John and Friends
A Celebration in Song
Nightmares on Wax
Downbeat, Ambient Breakbeat, Trip-Hop, Electronica, Club/Dance
Orchestra Philharmonique de Strasbourg
Richard Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel; Don Juan [Hybrid SACD]
Post-Romantic Orchestral Music
Original TV Soundtrack
Bones [Original TV Soundtrack]
Original Score, TV Soundtracks
Jimmy Smith Plays Fats Waller
Jazz Blues, Hard Bop, Soul-Jazz
B-Sides the Beatles
Tribute Albums, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
Southside Johnny/La Bamba's Big Band
Grapefruit Moon: The Songs of Tom Waits
Bar Band, Rock & Roll, Heartland Rock, Album Rock
Howlin' for Judy
Soul-Jazz, Jazz-Funk, Modern Creative
The Three Sounds
The Three Sounds
End Titles…Stories for Film
Electronica, Ambient Breakbeat, Trip-Hop, Alternative Dance
Lost in the Sound of Separation
Tooth & Nail
Post-Hardcore, Screamo, Christian Metal, Punk Metal
Messiaen: Garden of Love's Sleep
Modern Orchestral, Choral and Chamber Music
TK Webb & the Visions
Indie Rock, Hard Rock
Set Us Free