Rock quartet Unified Theory, comprising former members of Blind Melon and Pearl Jam, top the list of this week's new rock albums with their self-titled debut.
Brit-pop band Blur's guitarist Graham Coxon will release The Golden D, his second solo album, and new material from folk musicians Victoria Williams and Ramblin' Jack Elliott will also hit stores.
After the 1995 overdose death of Shannon Hoon, the singer for hippie-rockers Blind Melon, guitarist Christopher Thorn and bassist Brad Smith took time off from working in bands. Two years ago they prepared to start anew and drafted ex-Pearl Jam drummer Dave Krusen and young vocalist Chris Shinn for their new project.
"It's time to explode creatively," Smith said. "I'm definitely more focused now. ... When I was in Blind Melon, I was a stoner 24/7. Not this time. I want the success. The bottom line is: If you write good music, you might sell 100,000 records. Then, your next album may sell 200,000."
Their debut features a tighter pop-rock sound than the free-flowing jams of Blind Melon, as on the first single, "California."
Coxon's second LP was a one-man project in almost every aspect. He wrote 10 of the 12 songs, including album-opener "Jamie Thomas," played all the instruments, sang, produced the album, painted the artwork and released the album on his own label, Transcopic.
The two tracks Coxon did not write "Fame and Fortune" and "That's When I Reach for My Revolver" are covers of songs by influential Boston punks Mission of Burma, a band whose full, eerie sound can be heard reflected throughout the album.
Folky singer/songwriter Williams will release Water To Drink, which follows three independently released albums with The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers, a group she shares with her husband, former Jayhawks member Mark Olson. Williams, who was the inspiration for the Sweet Relief compilation after her 1993 diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, had the assistance of veteran pop producer and composer Van Dyke Parks in creating the set of quirky folk-pop songs.
The 20-song soundtrack to the documentary "The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack" features folk-singer Elliott in previously unreleased duets with Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash and Odetta. The movie won a Special Jury Prize for Artistic Achievement at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
Two newcomers are set to unveil their debuts, with Chicago's Relative Ash releasing Our Time With You and Texas quintet Blue October releasing Consent to Treatment.
Relative Ash range from moody calms to blistering guitar riffs in their first effort. "Bounce" combines rapid-fire rap-rock vocals with heavy-metal screeching.
Blue October include a violin in their eclectic sound, backing the introspective lyrics of singer/guitarist Justin Furstenfeld on such songs as "Independently Happy" and "Balance Beam." New Age musician George Winston makes a guest appearance, with atmospheric piano work on "The Answer," the closing track.
Other rock albums hitting stores Tuesday include bassist Rob Wasserman's experimental Space Island, the compilation A Metal Tribute to Metallica and Jukebox Heroes, a 39-song anthology chronicling late-'70s and early-'80s hitmakers Foreigner.