Each week, we preview a handful of notable albums scheduled to hit the shelves, plus offer a full list of the current new releases.
Who Goes There
I wonder if Gomez really had anything to do with its transformation from being an interesting new Brit-rock band to falling in with the jam-band crowd, or if the group was simply co-opted by a fan base it doesn't really understand. Certainly Gomez's music remains more palatable to the indie-inclined than, say, that of the Dave Matthews Band or the String Cheese Incident. Who Goes There finds Gomez's main man, Ian Ball, stepping out on his own, even releasing the album via the label he owns, Dispensary. On it, Ball ramps up the soulful side that has always been a facet of Gomez's music, using horns and Motown-style crooning. He recorded the album in Los Angeles with musicians who have played with the Blind Boys of Alabama, Richard Thompson, and Ween. ~John Zeiss
Even though Christina Carter, who forms half of the duo that has always been the bedrock of the band Charalambides, has put in some high-profile guest work lately (on recent albums from DJ Shadow and Thurston Moore), the band remains criminally under-known. This remains the case even as other acts that toe the prettier side of the art-rock line, such as Grizzly Bear and Sigur Ros, have risen in stature over the last few years. On Likeness, Christina Carter and her ex-husband, Tom Carter, stretch Charalambides's songs out even further than the ones that made up last year's already languid A Vintage Burden. For lyrics, Christina reached back into old American folk songs, taking snippets from various tunes and reworking them into the band's sound. Exceptional experimental label Kranky calls the results "abstract 'protest' songs for the century at hand." ~John Zeiss
R&B singer Mario may finally be ready to shed his teen-matinee-idol handle. Since debuting in 2002 at the tender age of fifteen, he's run the requisite industry hoops (cover of well-established song to break in the market; star in urban drama feature films to get his face out) in order to carve out a place for himself. However, this charming young man is one of the few talents in the major music industry who can actually sing. I'm not talking Ne-Yo sing. I'm not talking Usher sing. And I sure as hell ain't talking about Robin Thicke/Justin Timberlake sing. I mean, Mario can sing. So, although production expectedly brims with hip-hop and R&B heavyweights, from Timbaland and the Neptunes to Polow da Don and Akon, expect musically adventurous turns from one of the brightest talents alive today. ~Dan Nishimoto
I'm Not There [Soundtrack]
What's to say about this collection of Dylan covers accompanying the new unconventional biopic helmed by Todd Haynes that hasn't already been said? News about the album has been zinging around the blog-o-sphere for a while now. You probably know the big names that will be reinterpreting Dylan classics here: Stephen Malkmus, Sonic Youth, Jeff Tweedy, Sufjan Stevens, Cat Power, Yo La Tengo, Tom Verlaine, the Hold Steady, Iron and Wine. Then there are the not so indie contributors, like Eddie Vedder, Los Lobos, Jack Johnson, and Roger McGuinn. Will everything on this rambling respect-a-thon hit the mark? Surely not. Will there be some amazing highlights? Let's hope so. ~John Zeiss
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