Enter The Fray!
After that fabulous Superbowl show–just imagine, Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Hudson and Faith Hill all in one place–and next week’s Grammy Awards, I, like you, think this may be the most exciting week in music history!
And indeed, it’s this week–when music’s movers and shakers congregate in Los Angeles for their beloved awards ceremony–that they’ll be anticipating the sales figures of this week’s new releases, arguing whether it’s likely Melinda Doolittle will outsell Cannibal Corpse, and discussing what exactly that whole “digital download” thing is in the first place!
True, there may be a few fistfights, and yes, some record label folks won’t feel comfortable having to hitchhike home due to ongoing budget cuts, but one thing’s for sure: When it comes to this week’s new releases–just like next week’s Grammys–everyone’s a winner, baby!
The Fray: The Fray (Epic) From seemingly out of nowhere comes the Fray, the Denver-based band whose rise to international stardom came with their smash single “How To Save A Life,” which most people who stayed home and watched TV heard on Grey’s Anatomy–while other more popular people went out and enjoyed living! Well, their new album’s here and it’s at least as good as that last one–in fact, I’d suggest it’s even better–and if you like melodic rock with hooks galore, this is precisely the album you need to pick up this very minute! In fact, if you’re so inclined, please go here this Wednesday (Feb. 4th) to watch a video stream of the band performing live at Webster Hall! It’s all coming together marvelously!
Dierks Bentley: Feel That Fire (Capitol Nashville) You know what? When I think of the grand tradition of Country Music, I think of names like Hank, Waylon, Willie, and Dolly. Sadly, the name “Dierks” doesn’t really roll off the tongue quite so easily! But, of course, what’s in a name? Give up? Letters! And yes, letters have been written left and right about Mr. Bentley’s growing fanbase! Many have suggested that the already enormously popular, rising country star–who was nominated for a Grammy for his prior Long Trip Alone–may at this very moment be reaching his artistic zenith! With its catchy title track and the interestingly titled “I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes” I wouldn’t be at all surprised! Get in on the action!
Melinda Doolittle: Coming Back To You (Hi-Fi) I think the entire world would be stunned if American Idol “reject” Doolittle decided to make her very first album a tribute to Bob Dylan’s 1963 classic The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan–and title it after her favorite songs by Leonard Cohen, Maxine Brown and Mungo Jerry respectively! Luckily, that’s not the case at all! But sure enough, in the grand Idol tradition, she’s singing two Robert Johnson covers here! All in all, that’s quite a last name!
Wynonna: Sing: Chapter 1 (Curb) Referred to by some as the album that “has become known as Wynonna’s musical DNA”–hopefully they weren’t biochemists!–Sing: Chapter 1 is country star Judd’s seventh solo album and an ambitious one at that! Drawing from all the music that’s ever inspired her, including multi-genre classics like “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” “I Hear You Knocking” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” the disc is well-sung, well-intentioned, and, well, out now! Rumors that a miniature stuffed poodle was repeatedly hurled in the air during the cover photo session are simply not well intended! Wynonna is tops in my book!
Leona Lewis: Spirit: The Deluxe Edition (J) Certainly one of 2008’s major success stories was that of charming Leona Lewis, who’s likely to win an award or two this Sunday, and who in turn now awards us with this “deluxe” edition of her solo album–newly bedecked with a bunch of music videos and four previously-unreleased-in-the-U.S. tracks, including her UK #1 smash version of Snow Patrol’s “Run.” As an additional bonus, the album comes with a cover featuring a great new picture of the singer! Hey, she’s quite attractive!
Willie Nelson And Asleep At The Wheel: Willie And The Wheel (Bismeaux) Country legend Nelson’s pairing with Western Swing champs Asleep At The Wheel was long in coming; apparently the team-up had been suggested by distinguished record producer Jerry Wexler way back in the early ’70s, but it never came to be. If you’re a fan of either artist–or Western Swing–you’ll likely love this collection of classics; if, on the other hand, you dislike all three, you should check out some of the latest DVDs at Blockbuster! I love this thing!
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: He’s Just Not That Into You (New Line) I’m completely into any movie that includes italics in its title–heck, I just listened to Lisa Loeb’s Cake And Pie last week–and I suspect this album will greatly appeal to fans of this movie! Just look at the line-up of artists: The Human League, R.E.M., the Replacements, the Cure, Corinne Bailey Rae, Lily Allen–it’s a chick-flick attendee’s dream come true! So I guess those rumors about this film being based on a sex therapist’s diagnosis were simply nasty and nothing more! Let’s go see it!
Graham Nash: Reflections (Rhino) A 3-CD collection by any solo artist might seem excessive, but in the case of Graham Nash–whose career began with the Hollies in the ’60s and then fully bloomed in Crosby, Stills & Nash and their various permutations–it really just scratches the surface. The man who supplied the high harmonies and pop hooks to CSN&Y–he was writing “Marrakesh Express,” “Our House,” and “Teach Your Children” while his good pal David Crosby was singing about almost cutting his hair–Nash is a sturdy and economical writer, and his work in this collected context sounds surprisingly impressive. You should buy it!
Asa: Asa (Downtown) Very appealing American debut by a young French/Nigerian singer (pronounced Ah-Shah), this disc skirts the boundaries between pop and R&B and shows a worldly collection of influences–American R&B, Jamaican and African among them–displaying a serious artist at work. Classic rock fans with poor vision: there is no “I” in this name. Palindromically spectacular!
Cannibal Corpse: Evisceration Plague (Metal Blade) A long-awaited CD/DVD set by everyone’s favorite Brutal Death Metal band, this features great tracks like “To Decompose” and the surprisingly thoughtful “Skewered From Ear To Eye” and–ultimately–is a joy through and through! “I think it’s the tightest and most musically competent record we’ve ever done,” notes Corpse member Alex Webster. “Not that the other ones weren’t competent…” Oops! Out of room!