As expected, it's another big week of new album releases here at the mothership, as the big guns continue to be rolled out for the holiday buying season.
Leading the way, we have the new one from Beyonce, who introduces a new alter ego for her new double disc I Am…Sasha Fierce. Dividing the discs between an "I Am" side (that features mainly ballads), and a "Sasha Fierce" side (where she takes on the edgier, uptempo stuff), Beyonce continues to distinguish herself as a singer who can stand apart from the Britneys of the world. What we'd really like to see though is something that challenges the diva a bit more musically. Something along the lines of Christina Aguilera perhaps?
Belle & Sebastian's new one isn't really that new. The BBC Sessions brings together previously unreleased sessions that Belle & Sebastian did for the BBC from 1996 to 2001, including a complete live show on the deluxe version. Nickelback's latest CD Dark Horse should be ringing plenty of cash registers this season, as should the debut album from American Idol David Cook.
Jason Mraz is joined by British soul man James Morrison and Colbie Caillat on his first album of new material in three years, We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things. The deluxe edition boasts 2 CDs and a DVD. The old school of Rawk n' freaking Roll is represented on Sammy Hagar's new disc Cosmic Universal Fashion. Meanwhile, metalheads have The New Game from Mudvayne to chew on.
With so much great stuff to talk about, we're breaking tradition at NAR and inviting not one, not two, but three of our esteemed contributors to make picks this week. That's right, we're talking three for the price of one here.
Mark Saleski will be along shortly to talk about Tuatara, as will Josh Hathaway to heap fanboy praise upon Mark Lanegan. But first, Pico is here to reveal what Paul McCartney does when he moonlights away from his day job as a beloved ex-Beatle and all around rock and roll institution. Take it away, Pico…
Paul McCartney always had an experimental bent going back to the Beatles, but it's taken a pseudonym and a collaboration to produce his most successful undertaking of this sinister side. "The Fireman" is what McCartney credits his albums to when he makes them with DJ/knob twiddler Youth, but unlike the ambient trance of their first two albums, Electric Arguments contains actual, hummable songs.
These thirteen tracks were entirely conceived and performed in a day each by Paul, with Youth apparently adding production touches that give the songs an early 21st century veneer. The cuts swerve wildly from the heavy, heavy blues rock of "Nothing Too Much Just Out of Sight" to the bright, Wings pop of "Sun Is Shining", the brief "Blackbird" rewrite of "Two Magpies," and the Spectoresque shimmer of "Dance 'Till We're High." "Highway" might be Macca's strongest bid to top the singles chart since 1982.
The 66 year-old, knighted ex-Beatle is playing with an edginess of a twentysomething. This could be dangerous, folks.
One of the worst kept secrets in the blogosphere is that I'm hopelessly devoted to the music of Mark Lanegan. Year after year, album after album I take to the web to extoll the virtues of the man's music. Why let 2008 be any different?
I raved about Lanegan's collaboration with Greg Dulli as The Gutter Twins. This week we find him once again collaborating with Isobel Campbell, an angel-voiced former member of Belle & Sebastian. Initially only available in the UK, Sunday At Devil Dirt is now making its US debut. Those of us who imported a UK copy are feeling a bit sick because the US version comes with 6 bonus tracks. Those of you who waited patiently for the critically acclaimed follow up to The Ballad Of The Broken Seas now have your chance to get a great record and a half. In fact, I can go you one better. BC Magazine readers have an opportunity to sample a track from the album free and legal. Download "Trouble".
Tuatara is the 'supergroup' you've never heard of. That's because you've committed the sin of not listening to me and Josh Hathaway. Given the opportunity both of us will wax poetic on the charms of these guys. If you read the usual description, that Tuatara was formed from members of Screaming Trees and R.E.M., you might take notice. But the thing is, the music they create sounds absolutely nothing like those bands. In truth, it sounds like nothing you've ever heard before.
This time around, Tuatara collaborates with Rumi scholar and poet Coleman Barks. Another unfamiliar name? C'mon, live a little.
Here are all this week's new album releases courtesy of All Music Guide:
Belle & Sebastian
The BBC Sessions [Deluxe Edition]
Indie Pop, Chamber Pop
I Am…Sasha Fierce [Deluxe Edition]
Music World Music/Columbia
Pop, Adult Contemporary, Urban, Contemporary R&B
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Post-Grunge, Pop
Safe Trip Home
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Pop, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter
Southern Rap, Hardcore Rap
The Edge of Love [Original Soundtrack]
Karl Jenkins: The Concertos
Modern Music for Soloists & Orchestra
Mozart: Horn Concertos Nos. 1-4; Rondo in e-flat major
Classical Music for Horn & Orchestra
Isobel Campbell/Mark Lanegan
Sunday at Devil Dirt
The Lilac Time
Swedish Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, Twee Pop
Breakout [Platinum Edition] [CD/DVD]
Teen Pop, Dance-Pop
Classical Crossover, Classical Pop, Vocal Pop
Live at the Matrix, San Francisco, March 10, 1967
Rhino/Bright Midnight Archive
Psychedelic, Rock & Roll
Haydn: Complete Symphonies No. 70, No. 73, No. 75
Classical Music for Orchestra
Frizzell & Friends
This Is Our Time
Honky Tonk, Traditional Country
Cosmic Universal Fashion
Loud & Proud/Roadrunner
Arena Rock, Hard Rock, Pop/Rock, Pop-Metal, Album Rock
Kieran Hebden/Steve Reid
Structured Improvisation, Experimental, Electronic
Barbara Sings the Blues
Modern & Contemporary Vocal Music
The Holy Pictures
Funky Breaks, Electronica, Club/Dance, Techno
Contemporary Country, Country-Pop
Day by Day
Afro-Beat, Deep Funk Revival
Latin Pop, Dance-Pop
Indie Pop, Chamber Pop
Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things [2CD/DVD]
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul, Pop/Rock
The New Game
Post-Grunge, Alternative Metal
The BBC Sessions 1989-2001
IDM, Ambient House, Ambient Dub, Electronica, Ambient Techno, Club/Dance
Philip Glass Soundtracks
Orange Mountain Music
Contemporary Music for Piano
Gonzo: Music from the Film
At the Roxy (Atlanta '93)
Jam Bands, American Trad Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
The Ultimate Collection: Live at the Ryman
Traditional Bluegrass, Traditional Folk, Contemporary Bluegrass
Around the World [Bonus Tracks]
Indie Electronic, Experimental Techno, Latin Pop
El Baile Alemán [Bonus Tracks]
Tribute Albums, Latin Dance, Synth Pop, Experimental Techno
New Traditionalist, Contemporary Country
Decade in the Sun: The Best of Stereophonics [Deluxe Edition CD/DVD]
British Trad Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
The Definitive Rod Stewart [Deluxe Edition CD/DVD]
Album Rock, Pop/Rock, Folk-Rock, Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary, Hard
Rock, Rock & Roll, Dance-Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul, British Blues, Arena
Boots, Buckles & Spurs: 50 Songs Celebrate 50 Years of Cowboy Tradition
Outlaw Country, Contemporary Country, Country-Pop, Cowboy, Traditional Country
The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 11A: 1971
Smooth Soul, Motown, Funk, Soul
Born to Be a Rolling Stone
Rock & Roll, Folk-Rock, Garage Rock
Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan
Hardcore Rap, East Coast Rap, Hip-Hop
In the House of Mirrors
Spiritual, Indian Classical, Ethnic Fusion, Progressive Electronic