Here's a quick look at a handful of new albums, as well as a list of the rest of the stuff that's supposed to hit shelves this week:
[more:] Sigur Rós Takk Geffen
Album stream Maybe it was the recent marriages of two band members that did it. Maybe the massive worldwide success is finally lightening these four guys up. Maybe it's an unexpected effect of global warming. Whatever the reason, Sigur Ros's icy, detached introspection seems to have thawed a little on its fourth album. The band sounds happier than ever -- the tempos are faster, every song is in a major key, and strings, celestas and horns percolate giddily in the background. Singer Jonsi Birgisson has even traded his invented Hopelandic language for his native tongue, which means the seventeen people who speak Icelandic will now be able to judge whether homey is as deep as he sounds.
Little Brother Minstrel Show Atlantic
Album samples Don't let their group name fool you. The major-label debut from emcees Phonte and Big Pooh and producer 9th Wonder is a mature album, and an example of a hip-hop concept record that kinda sorta works. On Minstrel Show, the radio station introduced on their 2003 debut, The Listening, is bought out by a reprehensible television broadcaster called UBN (U Black Niggas), which introduces a demeaning TV series starring Little Brother. The "hip-hop culture as minstrelsy" conceit is a deadly serious one, but Little Brother avoids heavy-handedness through dark humor and 9th Wonder's soulful, jazzy production.
Cave In Perfect Pitch Black Hydra Head
Album samples At one point, the Boston quartet Cave In was at the forefront of the progressive metal-core movement. Then someone bought the band a bunch of spacey effects pedals and Deftones records as a Y2K present, and so began the artistic decline, which reached its nadir with 2003's Antenna, the obligatory horrible, major-label modern rock album. Will Perfect Pitch Black be a return to form or a return to the used bin? Cave In's reunion with Hydra Head Records looks promising, as does the re-appearance of hardcore growling. But even if the new album consisted entirely of bunny farts, it would still be a major improvement over Antenna.
Iron & Wine/Calexico In the Reins EP Overcoat
Album samples Depending on how you view the proverbial water glass, you either turn down the volume or turn up the silence. And that's the paradigm you'll need to approach this collaborative EP with: Does Iron & Wine soften the edges of Calexico's raucous roots rock, or does Calexico thicken Iron & Wine's wispy swamp-folk? Either way, it'll be interesting to see how Iron & Wine's Sam Beam makes room for the eight other musicians who play on the album. He's never even collaborated with a beard-trimmer before.
Super Furry Animals Love Kraft XL / Beggars
"Lazer Beam" video (WMA) From the sound of the new single, "Lazer Beam," it would seem the members of the Super Furry Animals haven't quite recovered from the malaise of their previous album, the lackluster Phantom Power (2003). But lead singer Gruff Rhys's charisma has saved far drearier tunes, and if that doesn't convince you to give Love Kraft a chance, maybe the vocal debuts of three other Super Furry Animals members will. Still no? What about the hundred-voice Catalan choir that pops in unannounced? The production on this one is bigger than anything they've done before, and in the Furries' lysergic headspace, bigger is always better.
Ohmega Watts The Find Ubiquity Records
Album samples Following in its usual path of dropping dance-floor and artist-friendly releases, Ubiquity brings us Ohmega Watts's The Find. Firmly rooted in the b-boy aesthetic of hip-hop past, Watts separates himself from the backpack field with a rich, modern production style and strong vocals throughout. His ear extends well beyond boom-bap to include reggae, jazz and even afro-beat without ever stepping too far out of bounds. Watts avoids the boasting and bragging on his Ubiquity debut, instead focusing on crafting a ground-level sound that bridges his Brooklyn roots and his Portland base and would sound comfortable on either coast. (Bryan Whitefield)
American Werewolves: 1968 (Fractured Trans) Annie Hayden: The Enemy of Love (Merge) Antigone Rising: From the Ground Up (Lava) Apollo Sunshine: Apollo Sunshine (Spin Art) Arizona Amp and Alternator: Howe Gelb (Thrill Jockey) B.B. King: 80 (Geffen) Battletorn: Evil Chains (Troubleman Unlimited) Bloc Party: Silent Alarm Remixed (Vice) The Bloodhound Gang: Hefty Fine (Geffen) Blues Traveler: Bastardos (Vanguard) Bonnie Raitt: Souls Alike (Capitol) The Brakes: Give Blood (Rough Trade US) Bun B: Trill (Rap-A-Lot (Wea)) Cave In: Perfect Pitch Black (Hydrahead Records) CeCe Winans: Purified (Sony) Charlie Sexton: Cruel and Gentle Things (Back Porch) Charlie Wilson: Charlie, Last Name Wilson (Jive) The Circle of Tyrants: Circle of Tyrants (Psycho Logical) CocoRosie: Noah's Ark (Touch and Go) Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley: Welcome to Jamrock (Universal) The Dandy Warhols: Odditorium or Warlords of Mars (Capitol) Dar Williams: My Better Self (Razor and Tie) David Gray: Life in Slow Motion (Ato) Death in Vegas: Fabriclive 23 (Fabric) Deftones: Rarities, Covers and Videos (Rhino) Desert City Soundtrack: Perfect Addiction (Deep Elm) Devendra Banhart: Cripple Crow (XL) Director's Series Vol. 4: Work of Director Mark Romanek (Universal Music & VI) Director's Series Vol. 6: Work of Director Anton Corbijn (Universal Music & VI) Director's Series Vol. 6: Work of Director Jonathan Glazer (Universal Music & VI) Director's Series Vol. 7: Work of Director Stéphane Sednaoui (Universal Music & VI) The Double: Loose In The Air (Matador) Ebony Eyez: 7 Day Cycle (Capitol) Eugene Kelly: Man Alive (Sympathy for the Record Industry) The Ex: Singles. Period. The Vinyl Years 1980-1990 (Touch and Go) Freakwater: Thinking of You (Thrill Jockey) From Monument to Masses: Schools of Thought Contend (Dim Mak) Genesis: Platinum Collection (Rhino) Giant Drag: Hearts and Unicorns (Kickball) Go Betty Go: Nothing Is More (Sideone Dummy) Grey Area: And Then the Clouds (Waveform) Hank Williams III: Straight to Hell (Curb) Harvey Danger: Little by Little (Phonographic) Iron and Wine and Calexico: In the Reins EP (Overcoat) John Parish: Once Upon a Little Time (Thrill Jockey) Lake Trout: Not Them, You (Palm Pictures) The Like: Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking? (Geffen) Little Brother: Minstrel Show (Atlantic) Loretta Lynn: 20th Century Masters - Christmas Collection [ORIGINAL RECORDING REMASTERED] (MCA Nashville) Mats Gustafsson, David Stackenas: Blues (Atavistic) Nada Surf: The Weight Is a Gift (Barsuk) Neon Blonde: Chandeliers in the Savannah (Dim Mak) Nicolay: City Lights, Vol. 1.5 (BBE) Nightmare of You: Nightmare of You (East West) Numbers: We're Animals (Kill Rock Stars) OOIOO: Gold and Green (Thrill Jockey) Patty Loveless: Dreaming My Dreams (Sony) Paul McCartney: Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard (Capitol) Paul Wall: People's Champ (Atlantic) Princess Superstar: My Machine (K7) Pussycat Dolls: PCD (A&M) Queen + Paul Rodgers: Return Of The Champions [LIVE] (Hollywood) Rosebuds: Birds Make Good Neighbors (Merge) Rosie Thomas: If Songs Could Be Held (Sub Pop) Safety Scissors: Tainted Lunch (Scape Germany) Sam Champion: Slow Rewind (Razor and Tie) Santana: All That I Am (Arista) Sigur Rós: Takk (Geffen) Simple Minds: Black and White 050505 (Sanctuary) Sonic Youth: Goo [ORIGINAL RECORDING REMASTERED] (Geffen) Stellastarr: Harmonies for the Haunted (RCA) Stiffed: Burned Again (Outlook Music) The Sun: The Sun (Warner Bros / Wea) Super Furry Animals: Love Kraft (Beggars / XL) Switchfoot: Nothing Is Sound (Sony) Tim Fite: Gone Ain't Gone (-Anti) Tommy Guerrero: Another Late Night (Another Late Night) Tracy Chapman: Where You Live (Atlantic) Trapt: Someone in Control (Warner Bros / Wea ) Various Artists: Sound of Young New York and Toronto (Plant) Wooden Wand and The Vanishing Voice: Buck Dharma (5 Rue Christine) *Release dates may change. E-mail email@example.com with correction or additions. Discuss this feature at the Prefix Message Board