You can always tell when it's getting closer to the end of summer. The days get shorter, the air gets a little cooler (here in Seattle we dropped from 95 degrees to 70 in just a few days last week), and NFL exhibition football is back on the tube. You also usually start to see the new music dwindle down to a trickle.
Not so this week.
While there may be not be anything here that screams platinum-seller, this week's list is actually one of the more interesting we've seen all summer. There's a little bit of blues, some metal, and a couple of interesting throwbacks amongst the choices you'll find new at the record store.
B.B. King's One Kind Favor could prove to be the most interesting of the lot. Here producer T-Bone Burnett, fresh off a home-run with John Mellencamp's latest, puts King up front and center behind a band that includes veterans Dr. John on keys, Jim Keltner on drums, and Nathan East on bass, for a good old-fashioned blues workout. Early reports are calling this King's best since the days of albums like Singin' The Blues.
Blues fans can also look forward to North Hollywood Shootout, the new one from Blues Traveler. Matthew Sweet returns to his more guitar driven nineties power-pop sound on Sunshine Lies. For metal fans, there are new releases by both Slipknot and the ever-grizzled Lemmy and Motörhead.
There are also a couple of releases of note to classic rock fans. Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970 captures The Moody Blues at their commercial peak before half a million fans in a previously unreleased live performance. Old Records Never Die: The Mott the Hoople/Ian Hunter Anthology is the first complete anthology to cover Hunter from the earliest days of Mott The Hoople, through their seventies heyday as glam-rock darlings, and then take Hunter's subsequent solo career right on up to the present day.
The Verve are also back for their first record in more than a decade with Forth. Jordan Richardson really seemed to like this one, and you can check out his review for yourself by going here.
Speaking of Mr. Richardson, he joins our regular revolving NAR cast of contributors this week to talk about the new one by The Game. Just don't make fun of the nickname he chose, okay? First off though, here's Mark Saleski to talk about some guy that plays with Pat Metheny. Or something…
In the Pat Metheny Group, there is always one musician who plays the role "utility man." The basic instrumentation is guitar, piano/keys, acoustic and electric bass, drums, trumpet, and (sometimes) harmonica. The extra player is responsible for filling in on any number of instruments including vibes, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals, and percussion. In the history of the group, this chair has been held by a stellar cast of musicians including: Armando Marcal, Nana Vasconcelos, Mark Ledford, and the great David Blamires.
In 2002, Pat Metheny brought out on tour his most powerful secret weapon yet: Richard Bona. Born in Cameroon, Bona can do it all. He can sing, play any number of instruments, and wield a mean bass. In fact, during the show I attended, the rest of the band took a break so that Metheny, Bona, and Antonio Sanchez could let it all hang out on a jaw-dropping version of "Bright Size Life." It's got to be tough to fill the shoes of Jaco Pastorius, but Bona made it look easy.
I know almost nothing about this Richard Bona recording, except that it's live and my musical radar says it has to be good.
One of the most eagerly-awaited hip-hop albums also happens to be one of the year's best. The Game's latest, L.A.X., is everything a dope rap record should be and then some. Featuring guest spots from Common, the legendary Ice Cube, Ne-Yo, Nas, Lil Wayne, Raekwon, and Keyshia Cole, The Game's assessment of Los Angeles is peppered with solid flow, intense beats, and a West Coast flavour that G-Unit's latest "effort" missed by miles.
Here are all this week's new album releases courtesy of All Music Guide:
West Coast Rap, Gangsta Rap
Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams
Pop Underground, Alternative Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Power Pop
Space Rock, Shoegaze, Alternative Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Britpop, Dream Pop
One Kind Favor
Mainstream Jazz, Post-Bop
The Epidemic of Ideas
Avant-Garde Jazz, Modern Free
North Hollywood Shootout [Bonus Track]
Jam Bands, American Trad Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
Mission Road [CD+DVD]
Warner Classics & Jazz
Spanish Missionary Choral Music
De Donde Eres
Indie Rock, Latin Rock
Ode to Sunshine
Alternative Country-Rock, Indie Rock
Guaranteed to Satisfy
Alternative Country, Country-Rock, Bakersfield Sound
The Berlin Concert
Baroque, Romantic & Contemporary Piano Music
Gabe Dixon Band
The Gabe Dixon Band
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter
Power Metal, Heavy Metal, Neo-Classical Metal
Neo-Soul, Contemporary R&B, Fusion, Jazz-Funk, Urban, Funk
Warner Bros. Nashville
Greatest Hits: Precious and Few
Garage Rock, Psychedelic Pop, Pop
JJ Grey & Mofro
Contemporary Blues, Southern Rock, Roots Rock
Jamestown Concerto: American Music for Cello & Orchestra
Modern American Music for Cello & Orchestra
Jan & Dean
The Complete Liberty Singles
Surf, Hot Rod, Pop
Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials
Modern Electric Chicago Blues, Modern Electric Blues
Join the Band
Album Rock, Southern Rock, Rock & Roll, Boogie Rock
Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal, Industrial Metal, Speed Metal, Death Metal/Black Metal
Bob Mintzer Big Band
Modern Big Band, Post-Bop
The Moody Blues
Live at the Isle of Wight 1970
British Psychedelia, Album Rock, Pop/Rock, British Invasion, Prog-Rock/Art Rock, Psychedelic Pop, Soft Rock
Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
Mott the Hoople
Old Records Never Die: The Mott the Hoople/Ian Hunter Anthology
Album Rock, Hard Rock, Glam Rock, Rock & Roll
The Big Trombone & Sterling Brass
Renaissance, Baroque, Modern & Contemporary Chamber Music
Mieczyslaw Karlowicz: Symphonic Poems, Vol. 1
Modern Orchestral Music
Danilo Perez/Claus Ogerman
Across the Crystal Sea
Contemporary Jazz, Post-Bop, Latin Jazz
Pop Underground, Indie Pop, Alternative Pop/Rock
Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up [Bonus Track]
Prog-Rock/Art Rock, Hard Rock
All Hope Is Gone
Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal
Pop-Metal, Hair Metal, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Album Rock
Three Dog Night
Greatest Hits Live
AM Pop, Pop/Rock
Thriving Ivory [Wind-Up]
Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
The Week That Was
The Week That Was
Indie Rock, Indie Pop