Who needs Guns N' Roses when there's Korn, the Arcade Fire and even Notorious B.I.G. to fry up the record racks?
Axl and his motley crew were set to deliver their Chinese Democracy Tuesday (March 6), but if you actually bought that notion, shame on you for believing him for the umpteenth time. In lieu of Rose's failed Democracy, we're building a new one that endorses a set of new leaders — well, for this week, at least — and designing a newfangled Bill of Rights to boot. Care to vote in this new democracy? Just kindly hand over your ballot — i.e., money — to your favorite local record store cashier or online retail outlet.
Presidential? Sweet: That's right, sweet Korn — the band recently hushed down for "MTV Unplugged" and whipped out black masks, Jonathan Davis' handwritten lyrics and a few cover songs. The commanders in chief, who dressed rather stately for the affair, brought along some honorary cabinet members in Evanescence's Amy Lee and the Cure's Robert Smith. The collaborative performances with those artists will appear on the CD, as will Korn's take on the Radiohead hit "Creep," but don't expect to find the first part of the show — including "Thoughtless" and "Here to Stay" — represented. Apparently those documents are classified.
A Notorious Anniversary: Since it's a compilation, Notorious B.I.G.'s Greatest Hits gets vice-presidential honors this week. The album coincides with the 10th anniversary of his death and chalks up 15 classic cuts, along with two unreleased songs: "Running Your Mouth," which was produced by Soopafly, and "Want That Old Thing Back," co-produced by Diddy along with Stevie J. (DJ Kay Slay, Mariah Carey) and Jonathan "Jon Boy" Jordan.
Sunshine State: Foreign-born secretaries of state aren't unheard of — any Henry Kissinger fans out there? — and we can't think of a band that's been creating a better image abroad than the seven-person squad that is the Arcade Fire. This week the Canadian band steps up with its second album, Neon Bible, which doesn't look too favorably on religion, television and, if rumor has it right, Jessica Simpson. We bet Condi already has songs like "(Antichrist Television Blues)" and "My Body Is a Cage" in her iPod.
Garden State: This week's undersecretary of state honors would have to go to one Jonny Greenwood, the Radiohead guitarist who is reaching across the globe for Jonny Greenwood Is the Controller. Ever the diplomat, Greenwood culled the Trojan Records archives to cobble together vintage recordings by Lee "Scratch" Perry, Gregory Isaacs and other reggae greats. It took him six months to compile 17 tracks, so don't think for a second that this disc was a rush job.
Fun House: Ever heard someone talk about "Those Stooges in Congress"? Well this week there really are, as we nominate founding members Iggy Pop, guitarist Ron Asheton and drummer Scott Asheton to be the respective speaker, majority leader and majority whip for the House of Representatives. Sorry, newcomer bassist Mike Watt, we're going to have to relegate you to caucus head. Expect the newly elected class to show some raw power as it pushes through its first piece of legislation in 33 years: The Weirdness features such measures as "Greedy Awful People," "O Solo Mio" and "End of Christianity." No decorum please!
Staff Infection: Conor Oberst probably wouldn't be President Bush's first pick if he were to replace Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove, given the Bright Eyes singer's scathing rebuke of the commander in chief on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" in mid-2005. Still, Oberst has proven he is a productive, sagely fellow who has a plan for every occasion. In fact, Bright Eyes have their act so together that this week they're dropping a six-song EP, Four Winds, to warm up fans for next month's Cassadaga LP.
They'll Do Abramoff Proud: Who better to assign as chief lobbyists than Big Business? The band consists of just two guys — bassist/singer Jared Warren (Tight Bros. From Way Back When, Karp) and drummer Coady Willis (Murder City Devils) — but their huge, bottom-heavy sound is enough to intimidate even the most honest politicians into taking dirty money. As it turns out, the Northwest pair are actually in a patriotic mood these days: One of the songs on their new album, Here Come the Waterworks, is called "Another Fourth of July ... Ruined."
Now that we've filled up the higher offices, it's time to roll out our Bill of Rights:
First Amendment - Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Assemble: No one knows his right to free speech better than Dave Mustaine. His band Megadeth have cranked out the DVD "That One Night: Live in Buenos Aires" for your viewing pleasure — it includes such outspoken song titles as "Set the World Afire," "Symphony of Destruction" and "Peace Sells." As for the assembly part, Toronto's Apostles of Hustle say in a recent press release that their National Anthem of Nowhere album title means that "Everyone who feels they have no voice or can't be heard can suddenly be united." So there.
Second Amendment - Right to Bear Arms: Who better to uphold this amendment than metal mavens Alabama Thunderpussy and their aptly titled new album, Open Fire? With new singer Kyle Thomas in tow, the band — which is actually from Virginia — unloads with "Whiskey War," "Words of the Dying Man" and "Void of Harmony" (wonder what that one sounds like ...).
Third Amendment - Quartering of Troops: Citizens can't be forced to provide places for soldiers to set up camp, but Air probably had no problem letting Jarvis Cocker and the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon crash at their pad for Pocket Symphony. The French duo apparently have lots of room at their digs, actually: enough to house the Far East classical instruments that appear throughout their new LP, at least.
Fourth Amendment - Search and Seizure: Son Volt are searching for something — as anyone who has remedial reading skills will be able to tell by the band's new album The Search. Jay Farrar and the gang dabbled in lots of nontraditional instrumentation — horns, loops, pedals and the like — and, suiting this week's theme, even add in some political commentary with the lyric "When war is profit and profit is war," on "The Picture."
Fifth Amendment - Double Jeopardy: No, we didn't make this up: Christian rockers Relient K actually have a new song called "Plead the Fifth," perfect for our theme this week. On that song and one other, "Deathbed," frontman Matt Thiessen takes the perspective of a man living in the 19th century and spouts a conspiracy theory about Lincoln's assassination. That proves the pop-punks have been flexing their political-history chops — although ol' Abe would probably suggest they subtract one from the five in their new album title, Five Score and Seven Years Ago.
Sixth Amendment - Speedy Trial: On the subject of speed, "Pace Yourself" is sure to be the highlight on the Higher's second album, On Fire — a version of the song that was remixed by Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump caps off the LP. Other songs on the Las Vegas band's album include "Rock My Body," "Insurance?" and "Our Movie Rules."
Seventh Amendment - Trial by Jury: Defendants facing a prosecutor and jury probably often feel like it's Them Vs. You Vs. Me, the title Finger Eleven have concocted for their fourth opus. The Ontario modern-rockers are already winning over radio with the album's first track, "Paralyzer." The band, which is touring soon with Chevelle, also chips in "I'll Keep Your Memory Vague," "So-So Suicide" and "Sense of a Spark."
Eighth Amendment - Cruel and Unusual Punishment: Cleveland's Chimaira deliver the biggest heavy-metal wallop this week with their fourth effort, Resurrection — their first since being dropped by Roadrunner. For even more cruel punishment, pick up the limited-edition version: It contains a bonus DVD with an hour's worth of footage from the making of the album, and more.
Ninth Amendment - More Rights: Citizens aren't supposed to be denied their rights in a democracy — so who's to say Albert Hammond Jr. isn't allowed to step away from the Strokes? For his maiden solo release, the guitarist roped in Ben Kweller, Jody Porter (Fountains of Wayne) and Sean Lennon. Coincidentally, Australian psych quartet Wolf & Cub have a song called "Hammond" on their own debut album. For Vessels, the Queens of the Stone Age and TV on the Radio tourmates also come up with "March of Clouds," "Seeds of Doubt" and "Conundrum."
Tenth Amendment - Powers of States and People: RJD2 is giving the power to the people with his new affair, The Third Hand. For the effort — his first since leaving Definitive Jux — the alt/hip-hop guru broke each song into individual tracks and posted them on Imeem so fans can remix them.
And for good measure, one for the high court:
Roe v. Wade: We imagine Maryland death-metallers Dying Fetus have something to say about this Supreme Court ruling, but we'll let their new album, War of Attrition, do the screaming instead. Songs include "Homicidal Retribution," "Unadulterated Hatred" and "Parasites of Catastrophe."
Song Title of the Week:
"Beneath the Wings of the Black Vomit Above" from Furze's UTD: Beneath the Odd-Edge Sounds to the Twilight Contract of the Black Fascist/ The Wealth of the Penetration in the Abstract Paradigms of Satan
· !!! - Myth Takes (limited editions come with bonus CD; Warp)
· The 69 Eyes - Angels (enhanced; Caroline)
· Air - Pocket Symphony (enhanced; Astralwerks) [Buy Now]
· Alabama Thunderpussy - Open Fire (Relapse)
· Anat Fort/ Perry Robinson/ Ed Schuller/ Paul Motian - A Long Story (ECM)
· Ryland Angel - Ryland Angel (Manhattan)
· Antibalas - Security (digipak; Anti)
· Apostles of Hustle - National Anthem of Nowhere (Arts & Crafts)
· Arcade Fire - Neon Bible (deluxe edition with book also available; Merge) [Buy Now]
· Assembly of Dust - Recollection (Hybrid)
· Patti Austin - Avant Gershwin (Rendezvous)
· Big Business - Here Come the Waterworks (Hydra Head)
· Blackfield - Blackfield II (Atlantic)
· Bright Eyes - Four Winds (EP; Saddle Creek)
· Victor Calderone - Evolve (Ultra)
· Cassette - Beautiful California (Atomisk)
· Mary Chapin Carpenter - The Calling (Zoë/Rounder)
· Michael Cashmore - Snow Abides (Durtro)
· Cheeseburger - Cheeseburger (Kemado)
· Chimaira - Resurrection (limited edition comes with DVD; Ferret)
· Combichrist - What the F--- Is Wrong With You People? (Metropolis)
· Ry Cooder - My Name Is Buddy (Nonesuch)
· Dawn of Man - In the Bronze Age (EP; Postfact)
· Dying Fetus - War of Attrition (Relapse)
· Emmure - Goodbye to the Gallows (Victory)
· Finger Eleven - Them Vs. You Vs. Me (Wind-Up)
· Fulton Lights - Fulton Lights (Android Eats)
· Giorgia Fumanti - From My Heart (Manhattan)
· Furze - UTD: Beneath the Odd-Edge Sounds to the Twilight Contract of the Black Fascist/ The Wealth of the Penetration in the Abstract Paradigms of Satan (Candlelight)
· Golden Ball - The Antique Barking Swirls of Dawn (Honeymoon)
· Jeff Golub - Grand Central (Narada)
· Green Pitch - Ace of Hearts (Funzalo)
· Greencards - Viridian (Dualtone)
· Gruff Rhys - Candylion (Team Love)
· Albert Hammond Jr. - Yours to Keep (enhanced; New Line)
· The Higher - On Fire (Epitaph)
· Illinois - What the Hell Do I Know? (Ace Fu)
· Infernaeon - A Symphony of Suffering (Prosthetic)
· Joseph Israel - Gone Are the Days (New Door)
· Seu Jorge - Live at Montreux 2005 (Eagle Rock)
· Korn - MTV Unplugged (Virgin) [Buy Now]
· Lanu - This Is My Home (Ubiquity)
· The Last Town Chorus - Wire Waltz (digipak; Hacktone)
· James Livingston - Fat Fingers (Helical)
· Lovedrug - Everything Starts Where It Ends (digipak; The Militia Group)
· Vusi Mahlasela - Guiding Star (ATO)
· Wynton Marsalis - From the Plantation to the Penitentiary (Blue Note) [Buy Now]
· Willy Mason - If the Ocean Gets Rough (Astralwerks)
· Moaners - Blackwing Yalobusha (Yep Roc)
· Shannon Moore - Evaporate (Water)
· MrNorth - Fear and Desire (Rock Ridge)
· No More Kings - No More Kings (digipak; Astonish)
· Onslaught - Killing Peace (Candlelight)
· Pantaleimon - Cloudburst (EP; Durtro)
· Paulson - All at Once (Doghouse)
· The Photo Atlas - No, Not Me, Never (Stolen Transmission)
· Kristoffer Ragnstam - Sweet Bills (Bluhammock)
· Relient K - Five Score and Seven Years Ago (Capitol) [Buy Now]
· Jeremy Riddle - Full Attention (Word)
· RJD2 - The Third Hand (XL Recordings) [Buy Now]
· Sasha & Shawna - Siren (Manhattan)
· Savoy Brown - Steel (Blue Wave)
· Sevendust - Alpha (7Bros/Asylum) [Buy Now]
· Shaw Blades - Influence (VH1 Classics)
· Siberian - Hey Celestial (EP; Sonic Boom)
· Son Volt - The Search (Legacy) [Buy Now]
· The Stooges - The Weirdness (Virgin) [Buy Now]
· Sunny Sweeney - Heartbreaker's Hall of Fame (Big Machine)
· Kelly Sweet - We Are One (Razor & Tie)
· Maria Taylor - Lynn Teeter Flower (Saddle Creek)
· This Moment - Star Parallel (enhanced; Uprising)
· Twisted Black - Street Fame (TVT)
· Kenny Werner - Lawn Chair Society (Blue Note)
· Wolf & Cub - Vessels (digipak; 4AD)
· Various artists - Jonny Greenwood Is the Controller (Trojan)
· Various artists - "300" soundtrack (special-edition digipak also available; Warner Bros.)
· Various artists - "The Namesake" soundtrack (Rounder)
· Various artists - "Stomp the Yard" soundtrack (Adrenaline)
Notable Reissues and Archival Material:
· Gary Allan - Greatest Hits (MCA Nashville)
· Johnny Cash - Cash: Ultimate Gospel (Columbia/Legacy)
· John Coltrane - Giant Steps (mini-LP CD replica; Rhino)
· Doobie Brothers - Toulouse Street (mini-LP CD replica; Rhino)
· Grateful Dead - American Beauty (mini-LP CD replica; Rhino)
· George Jones - 40 Years of Duets (Time Life)
· KMFDM - Nihil and Xtort (Metropolis)
· Love - Forever Changes (mini-LP CD replica; Rhino)
· Joni Mitchell - Blue (mini-LP CD replica; Rhino)
· Notorious B.I.G. - Greatest Hits (Bad Boy) [Buy Now]
· Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy (Jagjaguwar)
· Revolting Co--s - Cocktail Mixxx (digipak; Megaforce)
· Billy Joe Shaver - Greatest Hits (Compadre)
· Duncan Sheik - Brighter: A Duncan Sheik Collection (Rhino)
· Paul Simon - Graceland (mini-LP CD replica; Rhino)
· The Stooges - Fun House (mini-LP CD replica; Rhino)
· Television - Marquee Moon (mini-LP CD replica; Rhino)
· Totimoshi - Ladrón (Volcom)
· Yes - Close to the Edge (mini-LP CD replica; Rhino)
· Various artists - Hightone Records Anthology: Rockin' From the Roots (Time Life)
· Canned Heat - "Live at Montreux 1973"/ "Boogie With Canned Heat: The Canned Heat Story" (Eagle Vision)
· Dixie Dregs - "Live at Montreux 1978" (Eagle Vision)
· Fats Domino - "Fats & Friends" (Time Life)
· Jerry Lee Lewis - "Last Man Standing Live" (Artists First/ Shangri-La Entertainment)
· Megadeth - "That One Night: Live in Buenos Aires" (Image Entertainment)
· The Steve Morse Band - "Live in Baden-Baden Germany March 1990" (Eagle Vision)
· Elvis Presley - "Elvis Lives: The 25th Anniversary Concert - 'Live' From Memphis" and the two-DVD "He Touched Me: The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley" (Spring House)
· Various artists - "Screaming Masterpiece" (Milan)
· Gillie Da Kid - The Best of the GDK Mixtapes (Babygrande)
· Lloyd - Street Love (Motown) [Preorder]
· Musiq - Luvanmusiq (Atlantic) [Preorder]
· C-Murder - Screamin' 4 Vengeance (Capitol) [Preorder]
· Decemberists - "A Practical Handbook" DVD (Kill Rock Stars)
· LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver (Capitol) [Preorder]
· Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (Epic) [Preorder]
· Young Buck - Buck the World (Interscope) [Preorder]
· Good Charlotte - Good Morning Revival (Epic) [Preorder]
· Jennifer Lopez - Como Ama Una Mujer (Epic) [Preorder]
· Tha Dogg Pound - Dogg Ch-- (Koch) [Preorder]