Pharrell at Last: Given his Neptunes and N.E.R.D. projects and the number of hits he's already crafted, it hardly seems fair to call Pharrell a "rookie." But so he is, technically, which sets up his solo debut, In My Mind, as the most anticipated one of the year. Gwen Stefani makes a fleeting appearance on the first track, "Can I Have It Like That," while Jay-Z keeps it real on "Young Girl/ I Really Like You," Slim Thug helps "Keep It Playa" and Snoop Dogg swoons with Pharrell over "That Girl." And if you haven't heard the Kanye-featuring "Number One" by now, one's gotta wonder where your mind's at.
Luckett Strikes: This week may be all about Pharrell, but there's another big-name solo artist debuting this week in LeToya Luckett. The ex-Destiny's Child singer is also going by her first name only and has roped in Slim Thug for some support (on "Hey Fella"). He's not the only one lifting up LeToya, though: she's also getting props from Paul Wall ("All Eyes on Me"), Mike Jones ("Gangsta Grillz" and a remix of "Torn"), Jazze Pha and Bun B ("Tear Da Club Up").
Unleash the Beasties: Surprises abound on the DVD version of the Beastie Boys' fan-filmed documentary, "Awesome; I F---in' Shot That!" For starters, they've separated MCA, Ad-Rock and Mike D's vocal channels into an a-cappella-only feature that lets viewers cut out the rest of the music. Fans also have the option of switching between different camera angles — sort of a given, since so many fans submitted footage — or use the "hidden detours" feature to see other angles. And also, the short film starring comedian David Cross that prefaced the one-night theatrical showing of the Beasties' flick and was only supposed to surface just that one time, is included on the DVD.
Life According to Gym: Fans of the Beasties should take note of another collection of comical New York rap-rockers: Gym Class Heroes. The Fall Out Boy friends stick tight to the concept of their sophomore LP, As Cruel as School Children, breaking the tracks into class periods. Don't miss "Lunch: Sloppy Love Jingle, Pt. 1," "6th Period: Viva la White Girl" and "13th Period: On My Own Time (Write On!)," because if you do — need we say it? — you'll be headed to detention.
- Puffy AmiYumi have a 10th anniversary to celebrate, and some unlikely friends to celebrate it with. The Offspring's Dexter Holland sings on the Japanese pop duo's Splurge, with Butch Walker and Jon Spencer also contributing.
- The Sleepy Jackson are going the way of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Leader Luke Steele has already dumped three sets of backing bands, one including his brother, and he's only on his second record, this week's Personality (One Was a Spider, One Was a Bird).
- Serj Tankian has given System of a Down fans more heavy music to chew on by putting out Bad Acid Trip and Buckethead releases, but he's toning it down a bit with his latest signing, Slow Motion Reign, and their piano-based, eponymous debut.
- Silversun Pickups (Carnavas), Adam Green (Jacket Full of Danger), Code Red (All Aboard) and the Rosewood Thieves (From the Decker House) have something in common, but we're not telling.
- Joan of Arc will have you seeing double, if their wildly experimental post-punk concoction doesn't already do the trick. The band's back in time for its 10th anniversary, putting out a new LP (Eventually, All at Once) on its own label and a retrospective (The Intelligent Design of Joan of Arc) via former home Polyvinyl.
- Tom Petty's Highway Companion is just his third solo album (he's giving most of the Heartbreakers a break this time around).
- Terror play hardcore but have a soft spot for hip-hop: Murs and Atmosphere DJ Mr. Dibbs add some verses to the band's Always the Hard Way.
- Sammy Hagar likes tequila? Who knew? Listen to "One Sip" or "I Love This Bar" on his and the Wabos' Livin' It Up!
- Erase Errata and Mika Miko, who respectively issue Nightlife and C.Y.S.L.A.B.F. this week, just toured together.
- Raul Malo doesn't have writer's block — he only has one original song on his You're Only Lonely to make room for salutes to Willie Nelson, Harry Nilsson and the Bee Gees.
- Mew ought to be touring with Dinosaur Jr. instead of Bloc Party. The band's And the Glass Handed Kites has two guest-vocal spots by J Mascis.
- Pastor Troy is making at least two appearances this week, logging his own By Choice or by Force and adding to The Source Presents: Fat Tape, Volume One with his "Crossroads."
- Spoon's Telephono/ Soft Effects makes two early releases by the band readily available again, and is packaged as a double-CD with a bonus video for "Not Turning Off."
- Barbie Hit Mix 2 is more like karaoke for children, what with songs by Ashlee, Gwen and Hilary being covered by an unspecified group of "today's kids."
- Professor Murder isn't a rapper. Professor Murder Rides the Subway heralds what the wacky white boy — who uses cowbells and a whistle — has dubbed "progressive post-punk."
- Gaelic Storm hope to win over a few boozers with Bring Yer Wellies, but they're going to face some serious competition in fellow Irish band Flogging Molly and their Whiskey on a Sunday documentary DualDisc.
- If the Knife aren't the first musicians to go by that moniker, then they're almost definitely the first Swedish brother/sister team to do so. Silent Shout has already topped the charts in their homeland.
- Damon McMahon's Mansions is less a solo album than a collection of refined leftover tunes by his prior band, Inouk.
- Crash Kelly have toured with Alice Cooper and Skid Row, but they've got Guns N' Roses on the brain these days: Their Electric Satisfaction was produced by former GN'R guitarist Gilby Clarke.
- Ali Farka Touré's Savane was the last album the Mali singer/guitarist recorded before his death earlier this year.
- Steve Lawler has divvied up his Viva into three discs, named "Day 1," "Day 2" and "Day 3." But those aren't live recordings from the producer's recent trip to Ibiza; the "days" actually refer to "states of mind."
Song Title of the Week:
"Cream and Bastards Rise" from Harvey Danger's Little by Little ...
Tapes 'n Tapes's The Loon: Hipsters have been pining for the official release of this LP since the hooky band took South by Southwest by storm earlier this year. The album, 10,000 copies of which the Minneapolis quartet previously issued on its own, features the priceless lyric "And when you rush/ I'll call your name/ Like Harvard Square/ Holds all inane."
Jurassic 5's Feedback: The Los Angeles squad is hoping the Dave Matthews Band guest spot on their new "Work It Out" single and video gives them a much-needed sales boost. But in case that doesn't work, they've got the Scott Storch-produced "Brown Girl" to fall back on — and a tour schedule that puts other hip-hop groups to shame.
Voivoid's Katorz: The 14th release by the Canadian prog-thrash band also captures its last recordings with Piggy D'Amour, who died from cancer last year. The guitarist asked the remaining bandmembers to use his tracks on their LP, and with help from producer Glen Robinson (Gwar, Annihilator), they did.
- Archie Bronson Outfit - Derdang Derdang (Domino)
- Bargain Music - American Born (enhanced; Cornerstone)
- Boy Kill Boy - Civilian (Island)
- Randall Bramblett - Rich Someday (New West)
- Edie Brickell & New Bohemians - Stranger Things (Fantasy/ Concord)
- Bridge 61 - Journal (Atavistic)
- Michael Brook - RockPaperScissors (High Wire)
- Brötzmann/ Mangelsdorff/ Sommer - Pica Pica (Atavistic)
- Burn in Silence - Angel Maker (Prosthetic)
- Code Red - All Aboard (Toucan Cove/ Universal)
- Crash Kelly - Electric Satisfaction (Liquor & Poker)
- Disaster Strikes - Liberty Toast (Alternative Tentacles)
- The Drams - Jubilee Dive (New West)
- Erase Errata - Nightlife (Kill Rock Stars)
- Excepter - Alternation (5 Rue Christine)
- Gran Bel Fisher - Full Moon Cigarette (Hollywood)
- Flogging Molly - Whiskey on a Sunday (DualDisc; Side One Dummy)
- John Flynn - Two Wolves (Mettafour/ Kindred Rhythm)
- Michael Franti and Spearhead - Yell Fire! (Anti)
- Gaelic Storm - Bring Yer Wellies (Megaforce)
- Gorgoroth - Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam (Candlelight)
- Gosling - Here Is ... (V2)
- Grave - As Rapture Comes (Century Media)
- Adam Green - Jacket Full of Danger (Rough Trade)
Buy Now: Jacket Full of Danger (Rough Trade)
- Gym Class Heroes - As Cruel as School Children (Fueled by Ramen)
Read: "EMTs Ask Warped Tour's Gym Class Heroes: How Are You Guys Alive?"
Buy Now: As Cruel as School Children (Fueled by Ramen)
- Sammy Hagar and the Wabos - Livin' It Up! (Rhino)
Buy Now: Livin' It Up! (Rhino)
- Paul Hardcastle - Jazzmasters V (V2)
- House of Atreus - What You've Become (567)
- Impac - Almost Famous (Divine)
- Inkwell - These Stars Are Monsters (111)
- Joan of Arc - Eventually, All at Once (Record Label)
- JR Ewing - Maelstrom (Dim Mak)
- Jurassic 5 - Feedback (Interscope)
Buy Now: Feedback (Interscope)
- Will Kimbrough - Americanitis (Emergent)
- Klezmatics - Wonder Wheel (JMG)
- The Knife - Silent Shout (Mute)
- The Late Cord - Lights From the Wheelhouse (4AD)
- Steve Lawler - Viva (three CDs; Ministry of Sound)
- LeToya - LeToya (Capitol)
Read: "Ex-Destiny's Child Member Turns To God, Houston For New LP"
Buy Now: LeToya (Capitol)
- Toby Lightman - Bird on a Wire (Lava)
- Long Winters - Putting the Days to Bed (Barsuk)
Buy Now: Putting the Days to Bed (Barsuk)
- Tracy Lyons - I Will (West 57th Street)
- Damon McMahon - Mansions (Astralwerks)
- Raul Malo - You're Only Lonely (Sanctuary)
- Mew - And the Glass Handed Kites (Columbia)
- Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther (Bella Union)
- Mika Miko - C.Y.S.L.A.B.F. (Kill Rock Stars)
- Motor - Klunk (Mute)
- New York Dolls - One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This (with DVD; Roadrunner)
- Old Crow Medicine Show - Down Home Girl (EP; Nettwerk)
Buy Now: Down Home Girl (Nettwerk)
- Jake Owen - Startin' With Me (RCA)
- Pacifics/ Illmind - The Case (enhanced; All Natural)
- Panda & Angel - Panda & Angel (EP; Jade Tree)
- Park - Building a Better Park (enhanced; Lobster)
- Pastor Troy - By Choice or by Force (Koch)
Buy Now: By Choice or by Force (Koch)
- Tom Petty - Highway Companion (American)
Buy Now: Highway Companion (American)
- Pharrell Williams - In My Mind (Star Trak/ Interscope)
Read: "Pharrell Williams: Fired Up"
Preorder: In My Mind (Star Trak/ Interscope)
- Landon Pigg - LP (RCA)
- Professor Murder - Professor Murder Rides the Subway (Kanine)
- Puffy AmiYumi - Splurge (Tofu)
- Pure Reason Revolution - The Dark Third (Red Ink)
- Quantic - An Announcement to Answer (Ubiquity)
- Rippingtons - 20th Anniversary (with DVD; Peak/ Concord)
- Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy - Adieu False Heart (Vanguard)
- Rosewood Thieves - From the Decker House (EP; V2)
- Say Hi to Your Mom - Impeccable Blahs (Euphobia)
- Scritti Politti - White Bread Black Beer (Nonesuch)
- Silversun Pickups - Carnavas (Dangerbird)
- Joyce Sims - A New Beginning (Vessel)
- Bob Sinclair - Western Dream (Tommy Boy)
- The Sleepy Jackson - Personality (One Was a Spider, One Was a Bird) (Astralwerks)
Buy Now: Personality (One Was a Spider, One Was a Bird) (Astralwerks)
- Slow Motion Reign - Slow Motion Reign (Red Ink)
- Supersuckers - Paid (Mid Fi)
Buy Now: Paid (Mid Fi)
- Sylver - Nighttime Calls (Byte/ Universal)
- Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon (XL)
- Vienna Teng - Dreaming Through the Noise (Zöe/ Rounder)
- Terror - Always the Hard Way (Trustkill)
- Thor - Devastation of Musculation (Smog Veil)
- Ali Farka Touré - Savane (World Circuit/ Nonesuch)
- Umbrellas - Illuminare (Militia Group)
- Venus Hum - The Colors of the Wheel (Nettwerk)
- Voivod - Katorz (The End)
Buy Now: Katorz (The End)
- Paul Weller - Catch-Flame! (live double CD; Yep Roc)
- White Whale - WWI (Merge)
- Various artists - Barbie Hit Mix 2 (Rhino)
- Various artists - Cirque du Soleil Musique - Delirium (Cirque du Soleil)
- Various artists - FabricLive 28 (Fabric)
- Various artists - Slaying Since 1996 (two CDs; Suicide Squeeze)
- Various artists - The Source Presents: Fat Tape, Volume One (Koch)
- Various artists - "Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man" soundtrack (Verve Forecast)
- Various artists - "Miami Vice" soundtrack (Atlantic)
- Various artists - "Scoop" soundtrack (Decca)
Notable Reissues and Archival Material:
- Kenny Burrell - In a Mellow Tone: The Smooth Swing of Kenny Burrell (Savoy Jazz)
- Canned Heat - Instrumentals 1967-1996 (Music Avenue)
- Chad & Jeremy - The Ark and I Don't Want to Lose You Baby (Sundazed)
- Climax Blues Band - Tightly Knit (Fuel)
- Ian Dury & the Blockheads - Laughter (two CDs; Fuel)
- The John Doe Thing - For the Best of Us (Yep Roc)
- Eldopa - The Complete Recordings (Tee Pee)
- Gene & Debbe - Playboy: The Best of Gene & Debbe (Sundazed)
- Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five - Fresh & Furious: Hip Hop's Beginning (DBK)
- Bruce Hornsby - Intersections 1985-2005 (box set with four CDs and one DVD; RCA/ Legacy)
- Bob James - Sign of the Times (Koch)
- Joan of Arc - The Intelligent Design of Joan of Arc (Polyvinyl)
- John & Robin - Do It Again (Sundazed)
- Glenn Jones - Forever: Timeless R&B Classics (Shanachie)
- Harvey Danger - Little by Little ... (two CDs; Kill Rock Stars)
- Loverboy - Get Lucky (Columbia/ Legacy)
- Melissa Manchester - Better Days & Happy Endings, Bright Eyes, Emergency, For the Working Girl, Help Is on the Way, Hey Ricky and Home to Myself (Wounded Bird)
- Liza Minnelli - Liza! Liza!: The Complete Capitol Collection (two CDs; DRG)
- Nazz - The Nazz and Nazz Nazz/ Nazz III: The Fungo Bat Sessions (Sanctuary)
- Spoon - Telephono/ Soft Effects (Merge)
- Rick Springfield - Working Class Dog (RCA/ Legacy)
- Sonny Stitt - Stitt's Bits: The Bebop Recordings, 1949-1952 (Prestige)
- Laura Veirs - The Triumphs & Travails of Orphan Mae and Troubled by the Fire (Kill Rock Stars)
- Delroy Wilson - The Best of Original Eighteen - Deluxe Edition (Heartbeat)
- Various artists - Buzz Ballads (Razor & Tie)
- Various artists - The Best of Studio One Collection (four-CD box set; Heartbeat)
- Various artists - Casey Kasem: Driving in the 50s, Casey Kasem: Driving in the 60s and Casey Kasem: Driving in the 70s (Top Sail)
- Various artists - Soul Power Instrumentals (Time Life)
- Various artists - Teen Idols: A Trip Down Memory Lane (Compendia)
- Acoustic Alchemy - "The Best Kept Secret" (GRP)
- Beastie Boys - "Awesome; I F---in' Shot That!" (Velocity/ ThinkFilm)
Read: "Beastie Boys Concert Flick Filmed By 50 Fans With Digital Cameras"
- Commodores - "Live" (Music Video Distributors)
- Sammy Davis Jr. - "In Concert Series" (Passport)
- Michael Franti - "I Know I'm Not Alone" (Epitaph)
- Delbert McClinton - "Live From Austin TX" (New West)
- Bobby McFerrin and Guests - "Swinging Bach" (Euroarts)
- Stuart Sutcliffe - "The Lost Beatle" (Kultur)
- Johnny Tillotson - "Johnny Tillotson Sings His All-Time Greatest Hits" (Varèse Sarabande)
- Various artists - "Pure '80s: The Ultimate DVD Box" (three DVDs; Hip-O)
- DMX - Year of the Dog, Again (Sony)
Read: "DMX Signs With Columbia, Will Release Long-Delayed LP This Spring"
Preorder: Year of the Dog Again (Sony)
- Stone Sour - Come What(ever) May (Roadrunner)
Read: "Slipknot's Taylor Gearing Up For Stone Sour LP — And Tenacious D Tribute"
Preorder: Come What(ever) May (Roadrunner)
- Various artists - Kidz Bop 10 (Razor & Tie)
- Lupe Fiasco - Food and Liquor (Atlantic)
Preorder: Food and Liquor (Atlantic)
- Rick Ross - Port of Miami (Def Jam)
Preorder: Port of Miami (Def Jam)
- Slayer - Christ Illusion (Warner Bros.)
Read: "New Slayer Album Might Be Their Fastest Yet"
Preorder: Christ Illusion (Warner Bros.)
- Christina Aguilera - Back to Basics (two CDs; RCA)
Read: "Christina Makes Her Comeback Twice As Nice By Expanding Basics Into Double LP"
Preorder: Back to Basics (RCA)
- Obie Trice - Second Round's on Me (Aftermath)
Preorder: Second Round's on Me (Aftermath)
- Various artists - Snakes on a Plane: The Album (enhanced; New Line)