Welcome to the first “big-name” release date of 2009. There’s something for everyone this week, whether you’re an indie snob, a meat and potatoes rock ‘n roller, or a nostalgic hip-hopper. Here’s a quick taste of what’s new and interesting.
Bruce Springsteen Working on a Dream: There was apparently a wealth of good material that didn’t make the cut on Bruce’s last album, 2007’s Magic, so he and the E Street Band have cobbled the rest of those moments up, polished them a little, and voila. Working on a Dream is here. With Bruce’s usual intense character studies, anthemic rockers and political message, The Boss’s legion of followers is sure to be satiated.
Franz Ferdinand Tonight!…Franz Ferdinand: The Scottish foursome scored a huge smash with “Take Me Out” a few years back, but their follow-up didn’t fare as well. Album #3 promises more of the dance/rock sound that brought the band fame, with a little bit more emphasis on the “dance” side of the equation. This could be the sleeper of this week’s releases.
The Bird & The Bee Ray Guns are Just Not the Future: I discovered this mellow duo via their ethereal cover of The Bee Gees’ “How Deep is Your Love”, and picked up their self-titled debut as well as Please Clap Your Hands, the EP that contained said cover. Album #2 should blow them up, hopefully to the status of kindred spirits like Feist. Someone hook these folks up with an iPod commercial, stat.
Hoobastank For(n)ever: Crappy title, generic band, quite probably the end of their career, unless lightning strikes again and the band comes up with another “The Reason”-type hit.
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes Eye Legacy: Why a Left Eye solo album is being released seven years after her death is totally beyond me, especially considering her solo debut (which was released overseas but canned by her label here in the States) was widely available as an import (hell, I own it…). Even more galling is the fact that this album contains plugged-in guest verses from the likes of Missy Elliott, Chamillionaire and Bobby Valentino. This is one I’d definitely say stay away from, or at least tread carefully.
Elsewhere, Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante releases his latest solo album, The Empyrean, which features a guest shot by bandmate Flea. James Ingram tries his hand with gospel on Stand (In the Light), a collection of spiritual songs. Jayhawks frontmen Mark Olson & Gary Louris team up for Ready for the Flood, while my man Duncan Sheik continues his exploration of theater with Whisper House. And for those of you who are up for hearing Steve Martin play and sing, you might wanna check out The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo, which is sure to be more exciting than “The Pink Panther 2”.
On the reissue/compilation tip: Grammy Nominees 2009 arrives in stores just a little under 2 weeks before the big show, and Motown celebrates Valentine’s Day with Love Songs collections from The Commodores, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight and the Pips and The Jackson 5. Speaking of the J5, the albums Destiny and Triumph are being remastered (finally!) and re-released, from their later days as The Jacksons. Six Alan Parsons albums also get the remaster/reissue treatment, while Kylie Minogue and Rihanna both come out with remix albums. Finally, in the “we never asked for this” column, there’s a 20th Anniversary Special Edition of…Tone Loc‘s Loc-ed After Dark, for those of you (all five of you) who care to delve beyond Wild Thing and Funky Cold Medina.
Happy shopping, folks. Get your complete list of this week’s releases here.