Sunday , September 20 2020
How old is too old?

New Album Releases 04/29/08: Madonna, Steve Winwood, Portishead, The Roots, Def Leppard, Mudcrutch, Zappa Plays Zappa & More

With most, if not all eyes on the new Madonna album hitting stores this week, it'd be easy to overlook the "other stuff" out there — but it would also be a mistake.

There are plenty of interesting choices for just about every taste imaginable in this week's new release offerings. These range from the long awaited return of veterans like Steve Winwood, to a "debut album" that has been in the works for at least three or so decades now.

I haven't actually heard anything from Madonna's Hard Candy yet. What I do know is that the set is being ballyhooed as the "Material Girl's" return to her roots as a dancefloor diva, and that she has enlisted folks like Justin Timberlake and Timbaland for a more modern sounding disco makeover. I also noticed that the cover features a seductive shot of Madge all decked out in S&M gear. Which begs the question "how old is too old" to be pimping the whole sex-kitten thing?

Hard Candy comes in both a standard, and a deluxe "candy-box" edition.

Unlike Madonna, I have heard Steve Winwood's new Nine Lives, and it sounds quite tasty to these ears.

There's nothing here that is going to be a radio staple, at least not in the same way that something as out and out catchy as "Roll With It" was. But working with a small band of crack musicians, Winwood's voice — which sounds better than ever here — is matched with songs that have almost an early Santana sort of feel to them. There are heavy sounding keyboards, and congas aplenty here. Eric Clapton also turns in a guitar solo that is simply filthy sounding on the appropriately titled "Dirty City".

Perhaps the most curious new release of the week is the debut from Mudcrutch, which those in the know will recognize as Tom Petty's pre-Heartbreakers band. It's anybody's guess why Petty chose to revive this project at this particular time some three decades (at least!) after the fact. But revive it he has, and from what we hear there is a very decent sounding alt-americana vibe to this belated "debut album."

Other noteworthy releases this week include the politically themed hip hop of Rising Down from the Roots, and Def Leppard's arena-ready Songs from the Sparkle Lounge. Tom Johnson will also be along shortly to talk about why Portishead's Third may be an early album of the year contender.

Right now however, it's time to check out what Mark Saleski picked up at the record store this week:

Saleski's Choice – Zappa Plays Zappa

I remember exactly where I was when I found out that Frank Zappa had passed away. It was early in the morning and I was running on the treadmill in my basement. Normally, I'm not what you would call a morning person. In fact, looking back at this, it's a little puzzling that I'd be doing anything more aerobic than lifting a cup of black coffee at that hour. Giving it a little more thought, I now remember that I was slogging my way through the final years of a marriage gone dormant, and the workouts were my way of insulating myself from depression.

The news item came on the radio and I switched off the treadmill, went over and sat on the weight bench, and stared a hole in the wall.

About 30 minutes later, I was on the road with Frank Zappa's You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore/Helsinki Concert album threatening to blow the windows out. Life seemed sort of empty and somehow, Frank's music added some substance.

In 2006, Dweezil took his father's music out on the road and really did it proud. As you would expect, he brought along a killer band, which featured special guests such as Napoleon Murphy Brock, Steve Vai (impossible guitar parts), and Terry Bozzio. I am all over this. (Pssst! Look for the accompanying DVD).

Tom Johnson's Pick Of The Week: Portishead: – Third

Not many bands can get away with a lengthy hiatus that isn't filled with snickers about the artists' abilities to create worthy new material. Few are given a blank check to just disappear to write new music and come back with their credibility in check. Peter Gabriel has successfully proven that his excessive in-between album phases proves beneficial – he's yet to release a dud – and now Portishead is back to prove that the 11 years since their self-titled second album was a fruitful "vacation."

All indications point to this being one of the year's highlights, not an easy feat for a group that was last seen at the height of a genre no longer in vogue (trip-hop). Which is why Third finds the group forging new paths into some sort of weird psychedelic freakiness. It's as oddly compelling as Dummy was back in 1994 – and my guess is Third is going to prove to be every bit an instant classic as their debut has become.

Expect to see this on damn near every best-of list this at the end of the year.

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

Robert Forster
The Evangelist
Yep Roc
Alternative Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Indie Pop

Madonna
Hard Candy
Warner Bros.
Club/Dance

Portishead
Third
Mercury/Island
Electronica, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Trip-Hop

The Roots
Rising Down
Def Jam
Alternative Rap, Hip-Hop

Santogold
Santogold
Downtown
Alternative Dance, Club/Dance, Indie Electronic, Dancehall

Steve Winwood
Nine Lives
Columbia
Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Pop/Rock, Adult Contemporary

Augustana
Can't Love, Can't Hurt
Epic
American Trad Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock

Awesome Color
Electric Aborigines
Ecstatic Peace!
Garage Punk, Noise-Rock

Baby D
A-Town Secret Weapon
KR Urban
Southern Rap, Dirty South

Bobby & Blumm
Everybody Loves…
Morr Music/M.M.
Indie Pop, Ambient Pop, Post-Rock/Experimental

Boris
Smile
Southern Lord
Experimental Rock, Noise-Rock, Post-Rock/Experimental

The Cab
Whisper War
Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen
Alternative Pop/Rock, Emo

Chin Chin
Chin Chin
Definitive Jux
Electro, Jazz-Rock, Techno, House

Cloudland Canyon
Lie in Light
Kranky
Space Rock, Neo-Psychedelia, Indie Rock, Prog-Rock/Art Rock

Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers
Turbo Ocho [CD/DVD]
Emma Java
Americana, Roots Rock, Heartland Rock

Constantines
Kensington Heights
Arts & Crafts
Indie Rock

David Karsten Daniels
Fear of Flying
FTC
Indie Pop, Alternative Singer/Songwriter

Def Leppard
Songs from the Sparkle Lounge
Bludgeon Riffola/Island
Pop-Metal, Album Rock, Hard Rock, Pop/Rock

Dizzee Rascal
Maths and English
XL
Garage Rap/Grime

Steve Earle
Copperhead Road [Deluxe Edition]
Geffen
Heartland Rock, Roots Rock, Country-Rock, Americana, Alternative Country

Ensemble Belladonna
Melodious Melancholye
Raumklang
Medieval Vocal and Choral Music

Estelle
Shine
Atlantic/Homeschool
Urban, Contemporary R&B, British Rap

Fate
Vultures
Metal Blade
Heavy Metal, Thrash

Forever the Sickest Kids
Underdog Alma Mater
Universal Motown
Punk-Pop, Emo

Ronnie Hawkins
Arkansas Rockpile/Mojo Man
Collectors' Choice Music
Rock & Roll

Hayden
In Field & Town
Hardwood/Universal
Lo-Fi, Alternative Pop/Rock, Sadcore, American Trad Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter

Heloise & The Savoir Faire
Trash, Rats and Microphones
Yep Roc
Indie Electronic, Indie Rock

Griffin House
Flying Upside Down
RCA
Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Country

Lyfe Jennings
Lyfe Change
Columbia
Contemporary R&B, Neo-Soul

Jimmy Eat World
Bleed American [2 CD Deluxe Edition]
Geffen
Punk-Pop, Emo

David Johansen
David Johansen
Razor & Tie
New York Punk, Hard Rock, Rock & Roll

David Johansen
Live It Up
Razor & Tie
New York Punk, Hard Rock, Rock & Roll

Joy Division
The Best of Joy Division [2 CD]
Rhino/London
Post-Punk

Andrew Kennedy
On Wenlock Edge
Signum
Post-Romantic, Modern and Contemporary Vocal Music

Langhorne Slim
Langhorne Slim
Kemado
Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Country-Rock, Alternative Folk, Americana, Indie Rock

Jamie Lidell
Jim
Warp
Neo-Soul, Experimental Techno

Liverpool Five
Best of the Liverpool Five
Sundazed
Pop/Rock, Garage Rock, British Invasion

Mindless Self Indulgence
If
The End
Industrial Dance, Industrial Metal

Mudcrutch
Mudcrutch
Reprise / Wea
Heartland Rock, Rock & Roll, Bar Band, Pop/Rock, Hard Rock

Music of Remembrance
Jake Heggie: For a Look or a Touch
Naxos
Contemporary Chamber and Vocal Music

Nerf Herder
IV
Oglio
Comedy Rock, Punk-Pop, Post-Grunge, Alternative Pop/Rock, Punk Revival, Indie Rock

New Found Glory/International Superheroes of Hardcore
Tip of the Iceberg/Takin' It Ova!
B9
Post-Hardcore, Punk-Pop

One Night Only
Started a Fire
Mercury
Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Pop, Indie Rock

Susan Platts
Frauenliebe und Leben
Atma Classique
Romantic Vocal Music

David del Tredici
David del Tredici: Vintage Alice; Dracula
Innova
Contemporary Vocal Music

Puscifer
V Is for Viagra: The Remixes
Zomba/Puscifer
Electro-Industrial, Industrial

Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves
Roll with You
Q Division
Blue-Eyed Soul, Neo-Soul

Carly Simon
This Kind of Love
Hear Music
Pop, Adult Contemporary, Singer/Songwriter

South
You Are Here
Bluhammock
Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Dream Pop

Phil Stacey
Phil Stacey
Lyric Street
Pop Idol, Contemporary Country, Pop/Rock

Strategy
Music for Lamping
Audio Dregs
Indie Electronic, IDM, Electronica, Post-Rock/Experimental

Tickley Feather
Tickley Feather
Paw Tracks
Experimental Rock, Indie Rock

Mel Tillis
Me and Pepper
Collectors' Choice Music
Country-Pop, Traditional Country

Zappa Plays Zappa
Zappa Plays Zappa
Razor & Tie
Guitar Virtuoso, Hard Rock

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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