New Releases: Ludacris, Janet Jackson, Aly & AJ, Mewithoutyou, Scissor Sisters, My Morning Jacket & More

Also due Tuesday: Dave Matthews Band, Mute Math, Oohlas, Wolf Eyes, Lemonheads, Lucero, 'Weird Al' Yankovic.

Everybody Loves ‘Cris: After years pushing the limits of the afro and mimicking Austin Powers, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges is taking a turn toward the serious with his Release Therapy. The rapper takes a seat on the couch, mulling topics like child abuse and politics as Mary J. Blige (“Runaway Love”), Young Jeezy (“Grew Up a Screw Up”), Field Mob (“Ultimate Satisfaction”) and Beanie Sigel (“Do Your Time”) lift up Luda throughout. He does lighten up a little, though, on the Pharrell-produced “Girls Gone Wild.”

Jackson Action: She’s up against country hero Alan Jackson and his Like Red on a Rose and R&B crooner Freddie Jackson and his Transitions, but Janet hopes to edge them out with her own new album, 20 Y.O. With a five-part saga that includes the intro, three interludes and the outro, Janet manages to squeeze in 11 additional cuts, like “Get It Out Me,” “Show Me” and “Do It 2 Me.” The special edition boasts a bonus DVD with dance auditions, in-the-studio material and the making of the “Call on Me” clip.

Christmas in September: Aly & AJ get a jumpstart on the holiday-album thing with this week’s Acoustic Hearts of Winter, which may or may not wind up being as successful as Ella Fitzgerald‘s Christmas, being reissued today. The sparkly CD has “Greatest Time of Year,” which will also be on “The Santa Clause 3″ soundtrack, plus “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Little Drummer Boy” and “Joy to the World.”

Oh Brother: Horns, accordions and organ make their way onto Brother, Sister, the second offering from hippie Christians Mewithoutyou. Fans who preordered at Interpunk.com got an exclusive T-shirt, but everybody can get their ears on “A Glass Can Only Spill What It Contains,” “Brownish Spider” and “In a Sweater Poorly Knit.” Ex-Sunny Day Real Estate singer Jeremy Enigk joins them for two tracks, and Seattle’s favorite producer, Brad Wood, twiddles the knobs.

Oh Sister: Scissor Sisters are loading up ardent fans with even more gifts with the deluxe edition of their Ta-Dah — it’s got a bonus six-song CD with a demo, remix and four more tunes. Both versions find the burlesquers hailing “Paul McCartney” and declaring “She’s My Man” and “Everybody Wants the Same Thing.”

Weird Science: Leave it to “Weird Al” Yankovic to brew up good-natured send-ups of familiar Green Day, Chamillionaire and R. Kelly cuts. Straight Outta Lynwood, his first LP in three years, is a DualDisc frothing over with two stereo mixes, instrumental-only versions of all 12 tracks, an onscreen lyrics option, nine behind-the-scenes clips and six new videos. Now that’s straight-up.

Breaking Their Silence: In case you missed them at Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, the Warped Tour or MTV’s very own “You Hear It First” series, this week will be your chance to hear electro wizards Mute Math.The New Orleanians’ record is actually a joint effort between their own label Teleprompt and Warner Bros., an unlikely deal that should probably benefit both sides, seeing as how the band has sold more than 45,000 CDs on their own so far. The first 25,000 copies are slapped with a bonus live EP that has six songs — do the math.

Curse of the Bandino: Have enough Dave Matthews Band live albums but not enough sports memorabilia? Make an excuse for yourself with Fenway Park, Boston MA, July 7-8, 2006, a quadro-CD set that brims with a whopping 38 tracks over four discs. Copies ordered through the Live Trax 6 store will have a sticker commemorating the event, plus the chance to win a Red Sox jersey signed by Matthews.

Morning Glory: Cameron Crowe faves and former Boston Pops collaborators My Morning Jacket remind us what makes their live shows so memorable with Okonokos: Double Live Album, mixed by Bob Dylan buddy Michael Brauer and mastered by the legendary Bob Ludwig. The set actually precedes a more comprehensive document of MMJ’s explosive concert. Let the press-release description do the talking: “Inspired by a fairytale-like performance in Tokyo, the band decided to adorn their mysterious set with qualities akin to an old growth forest, capturing the essence of a timeless, nameless, anonymous place. The theme of straddling the line between the surreal and the actual is introduced at the film’s prologue when a cast of characters draped in Victorian-era costume, along with one alpaca, are introduced.” Right on.

Song Title of the Week:

“Polyester Meth Zeus” from Velvet Acid Christ‘s Lust for Blood

Other Notables:

Botch‘s Unifying Themes Redux: Botch gave birth to These Arms Are Snakes, Minus the Bear and Roy, but the Seattle hardcore heathens are being judged by their own merits on this LP, the first in a series of discs culling the band’s archives. Unreleased tunes, comp-only tracks and other rarities flesh out the set.

Ladyfinger (ne)‘s Heavy Hands: The Omaha, Nebraska, group — who use that (ne) at the end of its name, just so you don’t forget — drop a new disc on (where else?) Saddle Creek Records of Bright Eyes and Faint note. Speaking of which, Ladyfinger share members with the Faint, Mayday and the lesser-known Race for Titles and Bleeders for Treats. So if you dig that stuff, look no further.

Lucero‘s Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers: David Lowery of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven fame stepped behind the boards to document this, the fifth opus by the soothing Memphis, Tennessee, band. Organs and pianos seep onto songs like “What Else Would You Have Me Be?,” “I Can Get Us Out of Here” and “She’s Just That Kinda Girl.”

New Releases:

Notable Reissues and Archival Material:

  • Tori Amos – A Piano: The Collection (five CDs; Rhino)
  • The Black Crowes – The Lost Crowes (two CDs; Rhino)
  • Tommy Bolan – Whips & Roses II (Steamhammer)
  • Botch – Unifying Themes Revisited (Hydra Head)
  • The Byrds – There Is a Season (box set with four CDs and one DVD; Columbia/Legacy)
  • Farmer Jason – A Day at the Farm With Farmer Jason and Rockin’ in the Forest With Farmer Jason (Rhino)
  • Fear Factory – The Best of Fear Factory (Roadrunner)
  • Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Fitzgerald’s Christmas (Capitol)
  • Jerry Garcia – The Very Best of Jerry Garcia (two CDs; Rhino/ J. Garcia)
  • David Gray – Sell Sell Sell (Nettwork)
  • George Harrison – Living in the Material World (limited-edition version with DVD due same day; Capitol)
  • Holy Moses – Finished With the Dogs (Locomotive)
  • Ill Niño – The Best of Ill Niño (Roadrunner)
  • Waylon Jennings – Nashville Rebel (four-CD box set; RCA Nashville/ Legacy)
  • John Lennon – “The U.S. Vs. John Lennon” soundtrack (Capitol)
  • Little Feat – The Best of Little Feat (Rhino)
  • Ziggy Marley – Love Is My Religion (Cooking Vinyl)
  • Sarah McLachlan – Mirrorball: The Complete Concert (two CDs; Arista/Legacy)
  • Steve Reich – Phases: A Nonesuch Retrospective (five-CD box set; Nonesuch)
  • Sepultura – The Best of Sepultura (Roadrunner)
  • Type O Negative – The Best of Type O Negative (Roadrunner)
  • Fats Waller – If You Have to Ask, You Ain’t Got It (three CDs; Bluebird/Legacy)

Music DVDs:

  • Depeche Mode – “Touring the Angel: Live in Milan” (with bonus CD; Reprise)
  • Dwarves – “Fefu: The DVD – Special Edition Director’s Cut” (Music Video Distributors)
  • Hot Tuna – “25 Years and Runnin’: Live at Sweetwater” (Vestapol)
  • Isis – “Clearing the Eye” (Ipecac)
  • Buddy Rich – “Jazz Icons: Live in ’78″ (TDK)
  • Seven Witches – “Years of the Witch” (Screaming Ferret)

Coming Attractions:

October 3:

October 10:

  • The Blood Brothers – Young Machetes (V2)
  • Rod Stewart – Still the Same … Great Rock Classics of Our Time (J)
  • Various artists – “American Hardcore – The History of American Punk Rock (1980-1986)” soundtrack (Rhino)

October 17: