Each week, we preview a handful of notable albums scheduled to hit the shelves, plus offer a full list of the current new releases.
I know how corny it is to be pushing Pop Smurf Chris Brown. You may be thinking, "Didn't this buster also boost Ne-Yo?" And I am aware that you can look at the production credits alone on this greenhorn's sophomore release and know exactly what it will sound like: T-Pain's "Kiss Kiss" will include one hook, no bridge and a vocoder; Jazze Pha's "Gimme Whatcha Got" will feature an EMPAHTICALLY . . . SYNCOPATED . . . SPOKEN.word.INTRO . . . and a verse by an exceptionally raspy Weezy F, baby; and Kanye West will provide the only reason for an arched eyebrow when considering my pitch. However, since seeing this kid slink across Clive Davis's pre-Grammy party stage in 2006, I have had to give him my propers. The album may be by the books, but maybe he'll one day learn to go for self. ~Dan Nishimoto
The Knee Plays
Much like Neil Young's recent Chrome Dreams II, there's quite a lengthy history behind David Byrne's The Knee Plays. Avant-garde playwright Robert Wilson commissioned Byrne to create music for the pauses between sections of his epic work the Civil Wars. Wilson wanted to debut his work at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, but that didn't pan out. Byrne recorded the music he'd come up with in 1985, and in that year the album was released on vinyl. A year later, The Knee Plays was performed at the Lincoln Center. But after that, the work slipped into relative obscurity. It has never been released on CD. The music of The Knee Plays takes cues from traditional New Orleans brass bands, one of which, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Byrne was enthralled with at the time he wrote the piece. ~John Zeiss
B.A.R.S.: The Barry Adrian Reese Story
Never mind the return of Cassidy -- B.A.R.S. marks the return of the mack Mark Morrison. Collaborating on the obviously self-referential "Innocent Man," which alludes explicitly to the rapper's recent conviction for involuntary manslaughter, Morrison reinvents himself on the gospel-size chorus while the Comeback Kid deadpans, "I'm an innocent, man/ I'm misunderstood." Ah, it's the twenty-first-century remix! Now, who ever complained of a personality crisis? ~Dan Nishimoto
Citay plies a mostly instrumental sound that's more akin to the less cheesy side of new-age music than to your typical indie-rock fare. Native to California's Bay Area, the band takes in that region's scenic beauty and processes it back out as lush, gorgeous music. This is Citay's second full-length and first for Secretly Canadian/Jagjaguwar spin-off Dead Oceans. A true musical collective, Citay is an eight-piece grounded in the musical vision of Ezra Feinberg, who used to be in Piano Magic. The band is further augmented on Little Kingdom by the presence of the Fucking Champs's Tim Green. ~John Zeiss
"First Fantasy" MP3: http://www.scjag.com/mp3/do/firstfantasy.mp3
Eighteenth Street Lounge Music
Dust Galaxy is the solo project of Rob Garza, half of the long-running electro duo Thievery Corporation. As with most Thievery Corporation albums, the debut from Dust Galaxy prominently features a slew of stellar guest musicians. Members of Cornershop, Ted Leo's Pharmacists, Primal Scream, Brazilian Girls, and GoGoGo Airheart make their presences known here. The album was produced by Brendan Lynch, who has also done work behind the boards for Paul Weller and others. Garza was moved to make much of the music on the record after a trip he made to Sudan on behalf of the UN World Food Program. ~John Zeiss
Today's indie-rock scene certainly seems like a friendly place. Did you see how many pals Feist had backing her during a recent Letterman performance? Some of those folks were members of Grizzly Bear, and now the band feels the reciprocal love on this collection of reworkings, covers, and collaborations. Yellow House standout "Knife" gets covered by both CSS and Atlas Sound, the solo project of Deerhunter's Bradford Cox. Band of Horses covers "Plans." And "Alligator," from Grizzly Bear's debut, Horn of Plenty, gets redone by Dirty Projectors and Zach Condon of Beirut fame. ~John Zeiss
Great Vengeance and Furious Fire
Goldie rolls up to the spot, squats and samples some Black Keys. "Too bluesy," he thinks, so he calls up some El Michels Band and lights up. "Too much like the Wu," he snarls. Now somewhat annoyed, he trolls through the folders agitatedly and finds something he ain't heard before: the Heavy. Fat horns, dirty loops, and raging guitars. "Ah, just right!" ~Dan Nishimoto
I suppose the nature of such a vanity project -- hey, I saw my boy Denzel's new flick and decided to write an album inspired by it -- is more than enough to set Jigga detractors over the edge. Like, get back in the office and push my career, cotdammit. Or, Reasonable Doubt happened more than ten years ago: Get over it. Or, even better, Training Day wasn't even Denzel's best; why should I care about the non-soundtrack to the Alonzo Harris B-redux when I'm still sitting lovely with Easy Rawlins, period?
But you obviously have no idea what you're missing if you haven't heard this yet. Don't call it a comeback -- this is a hostile takeover. ~Dan Nishimoto
And don't call this a wrap -- it's just a contract option. After emcee Nas jumped ship from Columbia/Sony in 2006, his longtime home company retained the rights to release this ordinary "honorarium." Collecting his big hits for the label as well as a couple recent nuggets (the Chris Webber-produced "Surviving the Times" and Rush Hour 3 theme song "Less Than an Hour" featuring Cee-Lo) to encourage holiday spending, Greatest Hits does its best to encapsulate the rapper's career. ~Dan Nishimoto
With the holiday season quickly approaching, it might not be just a coincidence that Sigur Ros is in a very giving mood. The band is from Iceland, close enough to Santa's home base at the North Pole that Sigur Ros's members could count as de facto elves. The prominent slash in the title of Hvarf/Heim is a clue to the release's dual nature. The name of the first half, Hvarf, translates as "disappeared," fitting because the section is made up of five Sigur Ros rarities. The name of the second half, Heim, translates as "home." That section consists of acoustic version of six songs culled from all of Sigur Ros's studio albums. Of course, Hvarf/Heim is only a teaser of sorts for Heima, a comprehensive DVD of band performance footage coupled with stunning Icelandic scenery scheduled to be released on November 20. ~John Zeiss
From Deerhunter to Black Kids, 2007 has been chock full of new musical acts that Ye Olde Blogosphere has gushed over. Among that praised pack has been White Williams, the musical name of one Joe Williams. Williams has gotten the attention not only of the critical tastemakers but also of other cool, current musicians like Dan Deacon and Girl Talk, who White Williams has recently been touring with. He plies a funky amalgam of sounds that has garnered him comparisons to Beck. Or, as his label calls it, "Polished, familiar, and addictive, like the sound of sex in a futuristic hospital." ~John Zeiss
Discovered: A Collection of Daft Punk Samples
Consider this compilation cocktail chatter for your next "no idea is original" debate. Or, aspiring deejays can "dig" here for "gems" that savvy listeners may recognize. Or, and I'm sure there are at least two of you out there, Daft Punk completists can add this to their collection. However, most everyone else may take interest in this romp though fun disco pop. Then wax poetic about how sampling technology arose at an inconvenient time when free-market capitalism regulates cultural behavior. ~Dan Nishimoto
Reggae has The Harder They Come. Hip-hop has Wild Style. Twenty-first-century existentialism has (Sophia) Coppola and Twenty-first-century pomo has Tarantino. Funk has entire genre. Hell, even wedding crashers have Animal House and The Big Chill. So, what do bohemians get: Rent? Thank Recall Records for reviving Downtown 81, the missing link between the first two parts of The Decline of Western Civilization, the postscript to Please Kill Me, and the soundtrack to a so-so film that captured a what what scene at just the right time. ~Dan Nishimoto
*Release dates may change. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with corrections or additions.
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