Wednesday , June 19 2024
Spring Idol Worship and Post-Grunge Midlife Crisis.

New Album Releases 03/10/09: Kelly Clarkson, Chris Cornell, The Dream, Stevie Wonder, Madeleine Peyroux, Taylor Hicks, Luka Bloom

Spring is just around the corner, and that also means were knee-deep into the thick of American Idol season.

I quit following AI somewhere around the time of that Sanjaya guy, myself. So all I can really tell you about this year's karaoke fest is that the finalists include a blind guy, and a girl with the unlikely name of Lil' Rounds (sounds more like the next Biggie Smalls, than the new Beyonce to me) — who I've heard is actually quite good.

No matter, though. Cause a new American Idol winner inevitably means the return of past AI champs, and this week we've got two of 'em.

Kelly Clarkson is back with what we're told is a less rockin' and more "poppin'" new disc called All I Ever Wanted. Led by the brassy hit single "My Life Would Suck Without You," this should return Clarkson to the mega-seller ranks. Her fellow former Idol champ Taylor Hicks is also back with the grey-haired soul of The Distance, which was reviewed on BC earlier this week by our own Connie Phillips.

Ex-Soundgarden/Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell's new solo album is called Scream, but don't expect to hear much of the primordial grunge-metal of his previous bands here. The new album unites Cornell with R&B/hip-hop/pop wunderkind Timbaland, and is being called a "post-grunge midlife crisis" by at least some of the decidedly-mixed reviews we've already been seeing.

Rounding out this week's picks is the new album from hip-hop/R&B tough guy The Dream, as well as the new one from Luka Bloom (reviewed here last week by BC's Bill Sherman).

El Bicho is as excited as a giddy schoolgirl over the new one from sophisticated jazz ingenue Madeleine Peyroux, and is here to tell you all about that. But first, Donald Gibson's pick is the first ever concert DVD/Blu-ray release from the great Stevie Wonder.

Donald Gibson's Prime Pick: Stevie Wonder – Live At Last [DVD & Blu-ray]

Every avid music fan keeps in mind a list of artists that he or she would drop everything — but has never had the chance — to see in concert. I’m not talking about the run-of-the-mill productions that roll into the same towns each year, but rather those rare, special events — whether a stop on a once-in-a-lifetime tour or a one-night-only affair — that inspire us on road trips or cross-country flights. For nearly three decades, literally for as long as I could remember — until September 14, 2007 at the Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta — Stevie Wonder topped my list.

Recorded over two nights last year at London’s O2 Arena, Live At Last — an apt title if ever there was one — now makes its way onto DVD and Blu-ray, marking the Motown legend’s first-ever official concert film. Chock full of classics that are at turns romantic (“My Cherie Amour,” “You Are The Sunshine of My Life”), idealistic (“Visions,” “As”), and anthemic (“Living For The City,” “Higher Ground”), the performance covers Wonder’s illustrious career. And for me, it underscores why I’d always longed to witness Stevie Wonder in concert…for once in my life.

El Bicho's Masked Music Pick: Madeleine Peyroux – Bare Bones

Christmas comes early to the Hive this year as Madeleine Peyroux releases her fourth album, Bare Bones. I have been a huge fan since I first became enraptured with her exquisite, expressive voice back on her 2004 release, Careless Love, and I eagerly await what she has in store. This will be her most complete work as an artist to date because she was involved in writing all 11 songs. She again works with producer Larry Klein and re-teams with Steely Dan's Walter Becker with whom she co-wrote "You Can't Do Me."

On the opening track "Instead," with its shuffling-down-the-street arrangement, the lyrics offer perfectly attuned advice for the troubling times we find ourselves in as she suggests, "Instead of feeling low, get high on everything that you love / Instead of wasting time, feel good 'bout what you're dreamin' of." Rounder and Amazon are kind
enough to present a five-song listening party. No need to RSVP, but if you see me there, say 'hello.' I plan on attending until I get my own copy.

Here are all of this week's new album releases courtesy of All Music Guide:

Kelly Clarkson
All I Ever Wanted
Pop, Adult Contemporary

Chris Cornell
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop

Love vs Money
Def Jam
Contemporary R&B, Pop

Indie Rock, Indie Pop

Madeleine Peyroux
Bare Bones
Vocal Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock

Slipway Fires
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock

Song of the Pearl
Thrill Jockey
Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Country-Rock

Secretly Canadian
Indie Rock

Ballas Hough Band
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Pop, Club/Dance

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Mark O'Connor: Americana Symphony
Contemporary Orchestral Music

Bishop Allen
Dead Oceans
Indie Rock

Corbin Bleu
Speed of Light
Teen Pop, Contemporary R&B

Luka Bloom
Eleven Songs
Big Sky
Alternative Folk, Contemporary Folk, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Urban Folk

The BoDeans
Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams [Collector's Edition]
Rhino/Warner Bros.
Heartland Rock, Roots Rock

Nat King Cole
Re: Generations
Hip-Hop, Pop, Vocal Jazz, Club/Dance

The Birth of Cornelius
French Pop, Contemporary R&B, Neo-Soul

Mama, I'm Swollen
Saddle Creek
Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock

Julie Doiron
I Can Wonder What You Did with Your Day
Sadcore, Indie Rock

Steve Earle
Live at the BBC
Heartland Rock, Americana, New Traditionalist, Roots Rock

Estonian National Male Choir
Silva Caledonia
GB Records
Contemporary Choral Music

Europa Galante
Luigi Boccherini: Trio, Quartet, Quintet & Sextet for Strings
Virgin Classics
Classical Chamber Music

Extra Golden
Thank You Very Quickly
Thrill Jockey
Indie Rock, Afro-Pop

Girls Aloud
Out of Control
Teen Pop, Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop

Handsome Furs
Face Control
Sub Pop
Indie Rock

John Wesley Harding
Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead [Bonus CD]
Rebel Group
Alternative Folk, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Urban Folk, Contemporary Folk

Taylor Hicks
The Distance
Rocket Science
Bar Band, Blues-Rock

Bertie Higgins
Toucan Cove
Soft Rock, Pop/Rock

J. Holiday
Round 2
Contemporary R&B

Red Holloway
Go Red Go

Stephen Hough
Stephen Hough in recital
Romantic, Post-Romantic & Modern Piano Music

Shirley Johnson
Blues Attack
Contemporary Blues, Contemporary Gospel, Electric Chicago Blues, Soul, Soul-Blues

Paul Jones
Starting All Over Again
Collectors' Choice Music
Pop/Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul, British Invasion, AM Pop

Herbert von Karajan
Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 9
Romantic Orchestral Music

B.B. King
Live at the BBC
Modern Electric Blues, Soul-Blues, Early R&B

David Knopfler
Anthology: 1983-2008

Ronnie Milsap
Then Sings My Soul
Country Gospel

Mott the Hoople & Ian Hunter
The Golden Age 1969-1997
Proto-Punk, Hard Rock

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band
Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band
Dead Oceans
Indie Rock

New Found Glory
Not Without a Fight
Punk-Pop, Emo-Pop

Beth Orton
Trailer Park [Legacy Edition]
Arista/Legacy/Heavenly Record
Electronica, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Trip-Hop, Alternative Pop/Rock

Gene Parsons
Collectors' Choice Music
Folk-Rock, Country-Rock

Elvis Perkins in Dearland
Elvis Perkins in Dearland
Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Americana, Contemporary Folk

Elvis Presley
I Believe: The Gospel Masters
Traditional Gospel, Southern Gospel, Inspirational, Contemporary Gospel, Early Pop/Rock

Raymond Scott
100th Anniversary Doll and CD Set
Press Pop
Obscuro, Computer Music, Space Age Pop, Swing, Electronic, Cartoon Music, Novelty

Rod Stewart
Unplugged…and Seated
Warner Bros.
Album Rock, Pop/Rock, Folk-Rock, Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary

Bernie Taupin
He Who Rides the Tiger
American Beat

Various Artists
Respect: Aretha's Influences and Inspiration
Pop-Soul, Traditional Gospel, Motown, Black Gospel, Urban, Soul, AM Pop

Various Artists
Where the Girls Are, Vol. 7
Pop-Soul, Girl Group, Soul

We Five
There Stands the Door: The Best of We Five
Big Beat UK

About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, Ultimate Classic Rock, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.

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