Feature ·

[September 25, 2007] Heading to the record store? Here's what's new.

Each week, we preview a handful of notable albums scheduled to hit the shelves, plus offer a full list of the current new releases.

 

[more:]




Athlete

Beyond the Neighbourhood


Astralwerks

The Brit-rock of the likes of Maximo Park, Razorlight, and Athlete churns on, even if it seems like no one in North America is paying attention anymore. The band produced Beyond the Neighbourhood on its own. A small number of special-edition issues of the new release will come bundled with a DVD featuring footage of the band performing live in London, as well as a short documentary on the making of the album. First single "Hurricane" was inspired, as might be guessed, by Katrina and the continued threat of deadlier storms due to global warming. ~John Zeiss

 

***

Band: http://www.athlete.mu/

Label: http://www.astralwerks.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/athlete




Devendra Banhart

Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon

XL

Ah, Devendra. Still proudly putting the "freak" in that terribly titled freak-folk genre. From taking provocative publicity photos to releasing silly-titled albums with song names that follow suit, dude's not ashamed of letting his freak flag fly. And his gregarious nature has definitely endeared him to plenty of fellow musicians. Among those showing up on Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon are Vashti Bunyan, Noah Georgeson, and Andy Cabic. Okay, those folks have been in Banhart's orbit for a while now, but new and surprising guest spots come from the likes of the Black Crowe's Chris Robinson, actor Gael Garcia Bernal, and the Strokes' Nick Valensi, who offered a silent contribution (he was in the studio for one song but didn't play anything). The album's title could have something to do with Banhart's residence in the same Southern California canyon country that previous folkies Neil Young and Joni Mitchell used to call home. ~John Zeiss

 

***

Artist: http://www.devendrabanhart.com/

Label: http://www.xlrecordings.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/devendrabanhart




The Bird and the Bee

Please Clap Your Hands

Blue Note

Following up on the release of its self-titled debut album from earlier this year, Los Angeles lush pop duo the Bird and the Bee returns with this five-song EP. In case you've forgotten, the group consists of instrumentalist Greg Kurstin, who has played with the likes of Gwen Stefani and others, and Inara George, a solo artist in her own right who also pops in and out of various other L.A. musical projects. The always well-dressed, well-mannered duo appropriately opens up the politely worded Please Clap Your Hands with "Polite Dance Song." ~John Zeiss

 

***

Band: http://thebirdandthebee.com/

Label: http://www.bluenote.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/thebirdandthebee




Sir Richard Bishop

Polytheistic Fragments

Drag City

Sir Richard Bishop is a little-known yet widely influential guitarist. The seeds of the sounds Bishop has traded in over his career can be found in the likes of artists he has recently toured with: Animal Collective, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Low, and Bill Callahan. The one time Sun City Girl plays the hell out of many different kinds of guitars on the all-instrumental Fragments. ~John Zeiss

 

***

Artist: http://www.sirrichardbishop.net/

Label: http://www.dragcity.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/sirrichardbishop




Michael Ian Black

I'm a Wonderful Man

Comedy Central

The State(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3A_EgpUwMpo). VH1 pioneer(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1g8yUx_z2e0). Stella(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9DW9i023Nk). Celebrity Poker Showdown(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Ian_Black#Poker). McSweeney's(http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/black/). Even Sierra frickin' Mist (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3BMDPKtnNQ). Oh, and dude also does stand-up (http://www.myspace.com/MIBFans). What a way to kick off the best week evar. ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.myspace.com/michaelianblack2

Label: http://www.comedycentral.com/




The Cave Singers

Invitation Songs

Matador

Out of the ashes of the Murder City Devils arose Pretty Girls Make Graves. Now that Pretty Girls is no more, here comes the Cave Singers. Derek Fudesco, who played bass in both bands mentioned in the first sentence, takes over lead-guitar duties. He's joined on vocals by Pete Quirk, who used to be in Hint Hint, and on drums by Marty Lund, formerly of Cobra High. The band received recording help on the album from Colin Stewart, who has also worked with Black Mountain, a group the Cave Singers will soon tour extensively with. The results are songs much more folky and sublime than anything the three musicians have done before. ~John Zeiss

 

***

Band: http://www.cavesinging.blogspot.com/

Label: http://www.matadorrecords.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/thecavesingers

"Seeds of Night" MP3: http://www.matadorrecords.com/mpeg/the_cave_singers/cave_singers_seeds.mp3




Damon and Naomi

Within These Walls

20/20/20

Damon and Naomi is the other guy/girl duo whose roots go back to Galaxie 500, with the perhaps better-known one being Dean and Britta. While Dean Warehem went all cosmopolitan pop with Luna and now his current project with his wife, Britta Phillips, Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang have stuck closer to the original pretty, languid art-rock sound of Galaxie 500. Damon and Naomi have also gotten into exploring the rock music coming out of countries outside the United States, especially Japan. They've struck up a particularly fruitful friendship with Ghost guitarist Michio Kurihara. Kurihara has released a solo album on 20/20/20, Damon and Naomi's own imprint. And he shows up to shred the axe on Within These Walls. ~John Zeiss

 

***

Band: http://www.damonandnaomi.com/

Label: http://www.20-20-20.com/   

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/damonandnaomi

"Cruel Queen" MP3: http://www.damonandnaomi.com/mp3/cruelqueen.mp3




The Dragons

BFI

Ninja Tune

Big Daddy Kane rhymed over Tom Jones. Then Dangermouse married Ringo Starr's drums with Jay-Z's vocals. Now, Captain (of Captain & Tennille) may have a shot at being the most perverse beat in some crate-digger's collection. The story? Of course, there always is one: In the late '60s three brothers record in a friend's studio during off-hours and gradually cobble together an album of psychedelia, jazz, soul, and anything else they could come up with. Christened Blue Forces Intelligence, the album is shopped. However, labels quickly shun the quirky record, so the brothers give their recordings a new home on the shelf. Fast-forward thirty-seven years and add DJ Food, whose curiosity was piqued after finding a slab of psychedelia credited to an unknown group called the Dragons on an obscure surf soundtrack. He tracks down one of the brothers. The full-length's existence is disclosed. Food asks for a copy. And now you get to hear what three brothers did before the Beach Boys backing band gigs, before the Ted Templeman/Lenny Waronker collaborations, and before "Love Will Keep Us Together." ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.myspace.com/thedragonsbfi

Label: http://www.ninjatune.net/




Dragons of Zynth

Coronation Thieves

Gigantic

Be honest: What are your expectations from a band that describes itself as "experimental/ glam/crunk"? However dim your feelings may be, fortunately we are talking about Dragons of Zynth. Cosmic, psychedelic, Hendrixian, TV on the Radio co-sign, Mos Def-backing, classical training, Yusef Lateef studying, audiophysiopsychic: all of those sample talking points are valid, to an extent. But more to the point is that the group simply rocks the fuck out in a refreshing way. Old heads, remember when you first slipped on Zoso? New jacks, remember when you first jacked De-Loused in the Comatorium? Please, this is major. ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.myspace.com/dragonsofzynth

Label: http://www.giganticmusic.com/




Steve Earle

Washington Square Serenade

New West

Steve Earle probably should have just gone ahead and named his new album Washington, D.C. Serenade, because the longtime politically minded troubadour shows no signs of softening his views (although Earle has claimed this album is more personal than political). Songs include "Steve's Hammer (For Pete)," on which Earle picks up the banner of Pete Seeger's activist music; "City of Immigrants," which finds Earle backed by Brazilian band Forro in the Dark; and the dichotomous "Red is the Color." Earle also duets with his wife, Alison Moorer, on "Days Aren't Long Enough" and covers Tom Waits's "Way Down in the Hole." Washington Square Serenade was recorded in the iconic Electric Ladyland Studios with Dust Brother John King behind the boards. ~John Zeiss

 

***

Artist: http://www.steveearle.com/

Label: http://www.newwestrecords.com/ 




Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Bang! The Greatest Hits of Frankie Goes to Hollywood [Reissue]

Rhino

Okies, I'm throwing you a bone. I know better than to rationalize the umpteenth revival of a moronic, tacky, New Wave Hits of the '80s/I Love the '80s! fad, so I will simply concede that the moronic, tacky, New Wave Hits of the '80s/I Love the '80s! mainstay Frankie Goes to Hollywood is back(http://images.google.com/images?q=frankie+says+relax&hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hs=w2h&um=1&sa=X&oi=images&ct=title). Rhino knows, so it's reissued this greatest-hits comp, which conveniently includes eight songs from the group's debut (and, truly, only album of note) Welcome to the Pleasuredome (1984) along with a handful of tracks from the band's oft-forgotten follow-up, 1986's Liverpool. Everyone else, just chill. And soon as they do "it," it'll go away. ~Dan Nishimoto

***

Band: http://www.fgth.org.uk/

Label: http://www.rhino.com/




Georgie James

Places

Saddle Creek

Georgie James is not some dude's solo project. The name doesn't belong to one person but a band. It's a guy/girl twosome that plays catchy power-pop not unlike bands with similar setups, like Quasi or Mates of State. The guy in the group is John Davis, former drummer for D.C. rock outfit Q and Not U. The girl is singer-songwriter Laura Burhenn, who has the type of low, sensuous voice popular in much of indiedom today (see Feist, Cat Power). Together, the two make music that harks back to the best FM radio had to offer in the '70s and '80s. Not that it's all fluff; over hopping keyboards, "Cake Parade" is actually an indictment of the American public's continued nonchalance about the Iraq War. ~John Zeiss

 

***

Band: http://www.georgiejames.com/

Label: http://www.saddle-creek.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/georgiejames




Jose Gonzalez

In Our Nature

Mute

Jose Gonzalez is a true world musician. Of Spanish descent, he resides in the musically super-hot country of Sweden. He plays a brand of Nick Drake-esque folk music that goes over well in many different places. Accordingly, he can count plenty of fans all around the world. The things Gonzalez explores about human nature on In Our Nature tend toward the darker side: greed, deception, anger. These emotions don't come completely out of nowhere for Gonzalez; before he was a folky, he tooled around in a couple of hardcore bands. (Who didn't in their youth?) Gonzalez covers the Massive Attack gem "Teardrop" on In Our Nature, and members of the band Little Dragon appear on the album. ~John Zeiss

 

***

Artist: http://www.jose-gonzalez.com/

Label: http://www.mute.com/

Audio: http://myspace.com/josegonzalez




PJ Harvey

White Chalk

Island

PJ Harvey rocking out on piano equals hipster Tori Amos. In seriousness, the premise (all songs were written on piano and do not feature guitar) behind her eighth album, White Chalk, sounds highly promising. Considering her increasing interest in atmosphere and texture, we can expect an album of gems from the queen of intensity. The presence of past collaborators Flood and John Parish behind the boards, as well as longtime associates Eric Drew Feldman and Jim White (the Dirty Three) in tow, seals the deal. ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.pjharvey.net/

Label: http://www.islandrecords.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/pjharvey




Hell Rell

For the Hell of It

Koch

 

"Hell Rell's face is the last active Volcano in the U.S." ~MySpace Bulletin, posted in Smoking Section(http://smokingsection.rawkus.com/TSS/?p=1427)

 

In the perpetual male competition to see who's baddest, Hell Rell would appear to be but the latest player. Bronx-bred, Dipset-affiliated, and sporting a name that contains the only word that made my sixth-grade teacher flinch, the rapper has gritted and snarled his way up the ranks and through three solo mixtapes. Now he joins the esteemed company of JR Writer and Freekey Zeekey in making 2007 the year of the Dipset sixth man. Why should you care? Because he's so hard. ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.myspace.com/hellrell

Label: http://www.kochrecords.com/




Billie Holiday

Lady Day: The Master Takes and Singles

Columbia/Legacy

Stand in a coffee cue while listening to Norah. Promo clips crib Vera Hall. A Brooklyn child covers Nina Simone. These are the sounds of the twenty-first century? Sony/Legacy was a little late to the backward-glance game and jumped in the remix game (for Simone) only last year. The campaign continued earlier this year with a fresh look at Billie Holiday's work -- which brings us to the present retrospective of Lady Day. The Master Takes and Singles collects onto four discs works from a key period (1935 to 1942) in the singer's life. Though 2001's Grammy-award-winning Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday On Columbia covered her career in a far more comprehensive manner (ten discs spanning the years 1933 to 1944), this release is a timely, concise package for the uninitiated. ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.billie-holiday.net/

Label: http://www.legacyrecordings.com/




Iron & Wine

The Shepherd's Dog

Sub Pop

It's been a while since we've gotten a true full-length solely from Sam Beam, the main man behind Iron & Wine. Sure, there was Beam's collaborative effort with Calexico, In the Reins, and the EP Woman King. But you have to go all the way back to 2004's Our Endless Numbered Days for the previous complete set from Iron & Wine. Each new endeavor Beam has undertaken has seemed to add just a little bit more to his sparse sound, and The Shepherd's Dog is no different. Songs from the album that have circulated online seem more musically lush and dense. As for the songwriting, Beam remains an interesting storyteller; song titles like "Pagan Angel and a Borrowed Car" alone pique curiosity. Beam reportedly looked to Tom Waits's classic album Swordfishtrombones as inspiration for The Shepherd's Dog. Brian Deck produced the album, as he's done for most of Beam's work. Always a multi-faceted artist (Beam is also involved in filmmaking), Beam painted the album's cover image himself. ~John Zeiss

 

***

Artist: http://www.ironandwine.com/

Label: http://www.subpop.com/  

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/ironandwine

"Boy With a Coin" MP3: http://www.subpop.com/assets/audio/3458.mp3




Bettye Lavette

The Scene of the Crime

Anti

The recent revival of the blue-eyed soul phenomenon can be set against the parallel renewal of interest in veteran black singers. However, the resulting conversation -- if you dig these white cats and kittens, you should dig the originators -- is a shade too simple. Consider Betttye Lavette's collaboration with alt-country vets Drive by Truckers recorded at Muscle Shoals. Sure, the Cat Power comparison could be brought up, but it in fact holds no water, besides the mutual appearance of a couple sidemen. Make no mistake: a Lavette album is a Lavette album. Expect a searing slab of soulful covers (hell, there's an Elton John joint on here). ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.bettyelavette.com/

Label: http://www.anti.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/bettyelavette




Little Brother

Getback

ABB

From the outside, Getback seems an ironic title for Little Brother's third full-length. The Durham-based rap group has a new line-up (producer 9th Wonder is no longer in the group) and a new label, all of which conjures a completely new direction instead of a return. However, for emcees Phonte and Big Pooh, the changes perhaps reflect a re-establishment of footing. Early leaks like "Good Clothes" and "Cool as a Fan" suggest a hearty (and humorous) take on life on the daily. In other words: more of that good ol' LB. ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.myspace.com/littlebrother

Label: http://www.abbrecords.com/




Magik Markers

Boss

Ecstatic Peace

How many noise-rock twosomes are there banging around the music scene right now? Enough to make quite a racket, that's how many. And of course, "make quite a racket" could serve as the mission statement for Ecstatic Peace, the imprint run by legendary guitar grinder Thurston Moore. Keeping things further in the Sonic Youth family, Lee Ranaldo produced Boss. Elisa Ambrogio's vocals, like that of Midnight Movies' Gina Olivier, hark back to the bluesy psychedelia of Grace Slick. After all that talk of noise, it's interesting to find the members of Magik Markers keeping things on Boss the most subdued they ever have. ~John Zeiss

 

***

Band: http://www.myspace.com/theemagikmarquers

Label: http://www.ecstaticpeace.com/

"Bad Dream/Hartford's Beat Suite" MP3: http://www.ecstaticpeace.com/news_html/bad_dream_ex.mp3

"Taste" MP3: http://www.ecstaticpeace.com/news_html/taste_ex.mp3




Nellie McKay

Obligatory Villagers

Hungry Mouse/Vanguard

Considering the gargantuan headache surrounding the release of Pretty Little Head in 2004, singer-songwriter Nellie McKay understandably scales back her efforts for album number three, Obligatory Villagers. Recorded deep in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, McKay invited a few friends (no less than a couple extraordinary reedsmen Phil Woods and David Liebman, as well as Bob Dorough of Schoolhouse Rocks! fame) with whom she banged out a concise nine choons. The (beatnik) snap music of "Zombie"(http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/download/44628-nellie-mckay-zombie-stream) confirms a more lucid feel to the record, but quick jabs at the current culture of fear suggest another wallop of rah-rah. ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://nelliemckay.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/prettylittlehead




Median

Median's Relief

Halftooth

Little Brother fans feeling salty over producer 9th Wonder's recent departure can take comfort: There is still a middle ground. Pardon the pun, but rapper Median bridges the gap between Little Brother and 9th Wonder's parted ways by drawing on the talents of both camps. Fans of the LB-sponsored Justus League should be familiar with the emcee, as he has already rhymed alongside North Carolina's finest. For his debut full-length, he again draws on these talents (for now, possibly the last common ground for the original LB line-up?), but also breaks out on his own with the help of like-minded folks, like Nicolay, Joe Scudda, and more. ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.mediansrelief.com/

Label: http://www.halftooth.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/mediansrelief




Mum

Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy

FatCat

By the time this piece posts, Kanye West's latest album should be cruising comfortably into seven-digit sales and conversations about "that joint 'Stronger'" will continue to percolate. Meanwhile, like a tortoise easing steadily past this frenetic conversation, Mum will quietly release its latest seasonal offering, Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy. Two founding members lighter, the remaining pair of Gunnar Orn Tynes and Orvar Poreyjarson Smarason and their new recruits promise to maintain the group's aesthetic with tactile fare like "These Eyes are Berries" and "Dancing Behind My Eyelids," and fragrant pieces like "Marmalade Fires" and "Rhuubarbidoo." Joy to the fall, Mum is here. ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.mumweb.net/

Label: http://www.fat-cat.co.uk/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/mumtheband




Meshell Ndegeocello

World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams

Emarcy/UMGD

About a year ago, I caught Meshell Ndegeocello in the intimate, relaxed space of Housing Works Bookstore. She was not the featured artist, but was instead backing Chocolate Genius. Wearing a non-descript hoodie and loose jeans, she was dressed respectfully as "one of the band" and seemed comfortable fading into the background. However, alongside other estimable "flunkies," like guitarist Marc Ribot, she crumbled and smoked Chocolate Genius's songs into a gloriously tight blunt of funk and rock. Her performance, which cast a stark shadow over CG's estimable talents, was exemplary of her quiet fortitude and screamed for her return to the spotlight. World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams is album number seven, and she surrounds herself with folks that are up to her snuff, such as guitarist Pat Metheny, as well as saxophonist Oliver Lake, vocalists Thandiswa Mazwai and Oumou Sangare, and keyboardist Jason Lindner. ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.meshell.com/

Label: http://www.emarcy.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/officialmeshellndegeocello




Negativland

A Big 10-8 Place [Reissue]

Seeland

Negativland's third album and first concept album, is finally reissued. Why the dramatic sigh of relief? Call it the completion of the meta-circle. Between "pre-electronica"(http://www.amazon.com/Early-Modulations-Vintage-Various-Artists/dp/B00002EPKP), hip-hop, and Girl Talk, the tape-edit pioneers play a pivotal role in the development of sampled music. And A Big 10-8 Place, originally released in 1983, is one of Negativland's most noted works: a ten-pound tape reel of hyper-edited voices, sounds, riffs, rants, and more about Reagan-era Northern California. Constant lawsuits and the inherent illegality of such work have limited Negativland's access to the public, so the reissue of this truly underground opus is a welcome venture. Even old heads can rejoice: The new edition also includes a DVD of the group's first video piece, the sixty-minute No Other Possibility. And, call it a takeover: Late October will be the birth-date for a DVD comp of, by and about the group Our Favorite Things. ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.negativland.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/officialnegativland




Pieces of Peace

Pieces of Peace [Digital Release]

Quannum Projects/Cali-Tex

Here's an easy sell: Tag a record with the keywords "DJ Shadow" and "Deep Funk." It's a wrap, right? Admittedly, yes, but the story behind Pieces of Peace is so much more than the latest crate digger's find of the day. Arguably "the most important lost document of Chicago soul music," Pieces of Peace's self-titled album represents some of the city's finest talents at a key transitional period in African-American popular music. A meeting ground of musicians who had or would play with luminaries like Jackie Wilson, Donny Hathaway, and Earth, Wind & Fire, Pieces of Peace merged experiences, ideas, and visions much like hybrid pioneers the Pharoahs (who appropriately shared members between the groups). However, the group has been mostly an oral legend because of a dearth of featured recordings, notably Syl Johnson's damning, sharp-as-nails Is It Because I'm Black? LP and the "Pass it On, Pts. 1 & 2" seven-inch. Pieces of Peace's only full-length was shelved when the group broke up shortly after recording the album. However, thanks to Dante Carfagna, Rob Sevier, and DJ Shadow, this masterpiece of deep funk, soul, and jazz has been recovered and issued for the first time. File another one under "Huzzah." ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.piecesofpeace.com/

Audio: http://www.quannum.com/




Sea Wolf

Leaves in the River

Dangerbird

Sea Wolf is the musical project helmed by Alex Church, a man in the middle of L.A.'s burgeoning indie scene. Church had a hand in founding the band Irving, and now Sea Wolf's first full-length is coming out on local L.A. label Dangerbird, which helped break Silversun Pickups. The record was aided by indie producer extraordinaire Phil Ek. Sea Wolf's songs are the type of folk- and alt-country-tinged indie tunes so prevalent in L.A. these days. Church took his band's name from a novel by Jack London. And yes, Church is well aware that there are plenty of other acts out there with lupine names; check the "Influences" section of Sea Wolf's MySpace page for his funny take on that problem. ~John Zeiss

 

***

Band: http://www.seawolfmusic.com/

Label: http://www.dangerbirdrecords.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/seawolf




Jill Scott

Real Thing: Words & Sounds 3

Hidden Beach

Long time coming, Jilly from Philly. Not in terms of time between albums -- it has been three years since her last proper full-length, Beautifully Human -- but in the sense of that roar! Scott played witty and coy on her first two records, which worked well considering her buttermilk-smooth material. However, from the sounds of her bo(o)mbastic lead single, "Hate on Me," it seems Ms. Scott is no longer shy about announcing herself. In truth, her third album likely will not shock (head over to the Hidden Beach site to download a free preview sampler(http://family.hiddenbeach.com/index.php?automodule=downloads&showfile=10)), but it certainly bodes well if Scott brings that extra oomph she has been known to exhibit live(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNf3OkARYTI). ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.jillscott.com/

Label: http://www.hiddenbeach.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/whoisjillscott




Shocking Pinks

Shocking Pinks

DFA/Astralwerks

Congratulations, New Zealand: You have achieved nouveau-nation status. Like predecessors Iceland and Sweden, you now have a place in the twenty-first-century American zeitgeist as current harbinger of cool pop culture. Thank you for Lord of the Rings. Kudos for sending us Flight of the Conchords. Please, bang out s'more hip-hop. And now we swoon at the feet of your hipster pop. Oh, those sleepy vocals, those fleece-laced guitars, and those twinkling chords: Could Nick Harte, a.k.a. Shocking Pinks, be any more our ideal kiwi? ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.myspace.com/shockingpinks

Label: http://www.dfarecords.com/




Frank Sinatra

A Voice in Time (1939-1952)

Columbia/RCA Victor/Legacy

The full impact of superstars like Frank Sinatra can be hard to grasp considering the span of influence. Recognized early on as a teen idol, then as a swinging mid-life crooner, and even as an elder pop statesman, his influence stretches across memory. Hence, compartmentalizing his works into digestible portions can be of immense help. A Voice in Time is the latest attempt to divvy up Sinatra's work, focusing on his pre-Capitol years. Four CDs set in chronological order cover material from the war years to standards from the Great American Songbook. The set is unique for its inter-label perspective, pulling recordings from several labels (Columbia, Brunswick, Bluebird, and Victor), as well as including unreleased radio air checks and alternate takes. Most important, it offers a chance to learn why they call this man the Voice. ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.franksinatra.com/

Label: http://www.columbiarecords.com/




Stars

In Our Bedroom After the War

Arts & Crafts

Stars fans, rejoice! The band's fourth album is finally here. Well, technically, it's been here for a while -- since July 10, to be exact. But the album is finally, physically here. But, if you were an actual fan, wouldn't you have gotten In Our Bedroom After the War when it first came out? As in, first came out, digitally? I mean, in an odd way, perhaps the physical release of this album is more for die-hard fans -- after all, downloads are more accommodating to the casual, listen-at-your-leisure fan, no? Oh, the angst! ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://www.arts-crafts.ca/stars

Label: http://www.arts-crafts.ca/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/stars




The Weakerthans

Reunion Tour

Anti-/Epitaph

Despite the witty title, the Weakerthans was never some super-popular group that is now getting back together for a quick cash grab. Instead, the Weakerthans has been a project helmed for a while now by singer-songwriter John K. Sampson, and it's remained relatively obscure while other bands that trade in the same type of literate indie-pop, like Sufjan Stevens and Okkervil River, have risen in status. But that's fine. The Weakerthans' hyper-devoted core group of fans might not want more people to know how great this band is. Reunion Tour features eleven new acutely written Sampson songs, in which he often inhabits the guise of an odd character, such as a runaway cat or a businessman with a wicked hangover. The Weakerthans recorded the album in a studio above a closed factory in Winnipeg. Hints of the strange location can be heard on songs like "Bigfoot!" and "Utilities." ~John Zeiss

 

***

Band: http://www.theweakerthans.org/

Label: http://www.anti.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/theweakerthans




Will.i.am

Songs About Girls

Interscope

"I wanna do music that makes me happy. Dark music gives me anxiety. . . . That's why Black Eyed Peas' s*** is happy, because I can get inside it and feel comfortable. I can escape from the world and go and live in the music." ~Will.i.am, Times Online(http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article2229512.ece)

 

"Fallin' Up" fans are quick to bemoan the boho-arty to SoHo-subconscious career trajectory of Black Eyed Peas. However, lead rapper and producer Will.i.am's above quote reminds us of how little has changed. The group has always taken positivity to its most populist conclusion. So there should be little surprise surrounding Will's Songs About Girls. The album is an open-ended song cycle about, uh, "girls" that begins with the CD's fourteen songs about a past relationship and continues as more songs about, yes, "girls" are written and added to an embeddedable online media player. That's it. And such is the genius of Will.i.am: repackaging your happiness, so you can find another way to "escape from the world and go and live in the music." ~Dan Nishimoto

 

***

Artist: http://will-i-am.blackeyedpeas.com/

Label: http://www.interscope.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/blackeyedpeas




*Release dates may change. E-mail brandon@prefixmag.com with corrections or additions.

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