If you happen to be an anarchist, you probably observe May Day, which commemorates a number of historical revolts worldwide and is also known as International Workers' Day.
These days, the SoundScan charts sure could use a revolt — the music industry is lucky if it sees the best-selling album of the week push six-figure sales (as both Avril Lavigne and Nine Inch Nails did last week — all the more power to 'em).
It's wicked unlikely, but this week could see another revolution of sorts. Canadian songstress Leslie Feist, who cracked open her solo career in 1999 but really impacted with 2004's Let It Die, is facing off against Ne-Yo, the hugely popular R&B songwriter who is doing the sophomore-effort thing with Because of You.
If you're looking to prove that Ne-Yo's already got this contest in the bag, just look at the numbers he put up the last time around: His 2006 debut, In My Own Words, has sold almost 3 million copies worldwide and opened on the Billboard albums chart at #1.
While Ne-Yo was joined by Ghostface Killah and Peedi Peedi on that LP, this time around he has Jay-Z propping him up on "Crazy" and Jennifer Hudson aiding him on the duet "Leaving Tonight."
But even with those guests, could Ne-Yo's confidence be shaken? After all, he's changed the album title a handful of times — first it was Outta This World, then Because of You, then Know Me, then Because of You all over again. Plus, the album's first single — the title track — hasn't fared especially well on the charts so far.
That could open up the playing field a little for Feist's The Reminder, which The New York Times has declared as "the album that should transform her from the darling of the indie-rock circuit to a full-fledged star, and do it with no compromises."
The whole thing's up on her MySpace page already — and it's been in stores overseas for a week — but that hasn't quelled the buzz. Her stylish new "1234" — directed by Patrick Daughters (Death Cab for Cutie, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) — has our interest piqued, and even Best Buy is hyping the album as, ahem, "A strong sophomore effort from an acclaimed Canadian indie-rocker." There we go.
Swinging into the competition is Spider-Man and the heroic accompanying soundtrack to his new flick. The Killers, Snow Patrol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wolfmother, the Flaming Lips and other well-known cool kids step onto the "Spidey 3" CD, crafting fresh songs to sling to.
If those bands are too mature for your tastes, look no further than Another Side, the debut disc by "High School Musical" and "Jump In!" star Corbin Bleu. Early birds get an extra treat — initial copies come with a DVD featuring performances from "High School Musical: The Concert," as well as an interview and more.
World-music goddess Angelique Kidjo has also catered to the kids' crowd in the past — believe it or not, her song "Ife" appeared way back when on the soundtrack to "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls." Kidjo's lauded catalog includes seven albums, but she's spiced up her latest, Djin Djin, by bringing guests Alicia Keys, Joss Stone, Carlos Santana, Peter Gabriel and Josh Groban into the fold.
Rush have more than twice as many studio albums to their name than Kidjo, but they've also enlisted some new blood — specifically, producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Velvet Revolver) — for Snakes & Arrows. The first 25,000 copies of the band's first studio LP since 2002's Vapor Trails — which peaked at #6 on the Billboard albums chart — will be released in Warner Music's Music Video Interactive format and feature 5.1. surround sound, hi-res audio, a video documentary, special booklet and deluxe packaging.
Tori Amos is also giving her new one the special-edition treatment, bolstering select copies of American Doll Posse with an added DVD chock-full of bonus material. Infamous Amos takes a bite out of the Bush administration this time around, mutating into a series of Greek goddesses along the way. Among the 23 stark song titles are "To George," "Mr. Bad Man" and "Fat Slut."
Fellow '90s stalwarts Dinosaur Jr. are also hoping to climb into the pack this week with Beyond, their first effort in a decade and first in almost two decades with arguably their best lineup: J Mascis, Murph and Lou Barlow. Some songs are classic Mascis — "Been There All the Time," "I Got Lost" — while two were written by Barlow ("Back to Your Heart," "Lightning Bulb").
Speaking of songwriting, Brooklyn, New York's Ari Hest turned to Gary Louris (Golden Smog, Jayhawks) to co-write "Bird Never Flies," a song featured on Hest's latest opus The Break-In. Mostly recorded in Santa Monica, California, with producer Mitchell Froom (Elvis Costello, Crowded House), the set includes "Bird Never Flies," "Big Ben" and "When and If."
One gang that might not make the cut this week are Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. While the critics love 'em, the loud garage-psych rockers' last effort — 2005's Howl — peaked lower than its 2003 predecessor, Take Them on, on Your Own. And despite a recent U.K. tour with the Killers, there hasn't been much build behind their new Baby 81, which marks drummer Nick Jago's studio comeback. The band does have something to say this time around, though — the album title refers to Abhilasha Jeyarajah, the 81st victim taken to Kalmunai hospital in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami. Nine couples claimed the 4-month-old baby was theirs, and controversy ensued until DNA tests finally confirmed who the real parents were. In about a week, BRMC will know if they have a home — on the charts, that is.
Song Title of the Week:
"Un Jour Parfait Pour Poisson de Banane" from Les Sans Culottes' Le Weekender
Paul Duncan' Above the Trees
Ari Hest isn't the only voice piping up from Brooklyn this week — neighbor Duncan also has something to say as he dishes up his third release. While Duncan tinkers with everything from pedal steel to banjo to glockenspiel, he's joined by a small army of co-conspirators, including members of Grizzly Bear, Tortoise, Cursive and more. Issued on the hep label Hometapes, the LP features "Memory Curves," "Parasail" and "Red Eagle."
Patrick Wolf's The Magic Position
Like Duncan, this London singer/songwriter also likes playing around with a wide variety of instruments — autoharp, theremin and ukulele among them. For his own third outing, the 6-foot-4-inch performer gets together with the legendary Marianne Faithfull for "Magpie," and keeps his pop deliberately off-kilter on songs like "Secret Garden," "Get Lost" and "Accident & Emergency."
The Flesh's Firetower
Also pushing the damaged-pop envelope are these arty dudes, who assembled in NYC in 2002 but now call Brooklyn and Philadelphia home. R&B, dub, goth and punk sounds also seep into the release, which is the band's most layered one yet — it relied heavily on overdubs and multi-tracking, and also ushered in classical musicians to add strings and horns to a few songs. Slap the Flesh some skin when they're on tour with Ted Leo and the Pharmacists next month.
· 65 Days of Static - The Destruction of Small Ideas (Monotreme)
· Acute - Arms Around a Stranger (Help)
· ALO - Roses & Clover (Brushfire) [Buy]
· Tori Amos - American Doll Posse (special edition comes with DVD; Epic) [Buy]
· Joan Armatrading - Into the Blues (429) [Buy]
· Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Baby 81 (Red Ink) [Buy]
· Corbin Bleu - Another Side (initial copies come with bonus DVD; Hollywood)
· Bockman - Chasing Dragons (Co-Opt)
· Doyle Bramhall - Foodland (Yep Roc) [Buy]
· Michael Bublé - Call Me Irresponsible (Reprise)
· Dinosaur Jr. - Beyond (Fat Possum) [Buy]
· The Dreadful Yawns - Rest (Exit Stencil) [Buy]
· Paul Duncan - Above the Trees (Hometapes)
· The Fall of Troy - Manipulator (Equal Vision) [Buy]
· Feist - The Reminder (CherryTree/Interscope)
· The Flesh - Firetower (Gern Blandsten) [Buy]
· Fort Knox Five - Reminted (Fort Knox) [Buy]
· Frog Eyes - Tears of the Valedictorian (Absolutely Kosher) [Buy]
· Robbie Fulks - Revenge (Yep Roc)
· Girl in a Coma - Both Before I'm Gone (enhanced; Blackheart) [Buy]
· Ari Hest - The Break-In (Red Ink) [Buy]
· Kalli - While the City Sleeps (One Little Indian) [Buy]
· Angelique Kidjo - Djin Djin (Razor & Tie) [Buy]
· Chantal Kreviazuk - Ghost Stories (Nettwerk) [Buy]
· Miranda Lambert - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Epic) [Buy]
· Les Sans Culottes - Le Weekender (Vibratone)
· Kimberley Locke - Based on a True Story (Curb) [Buy]
· Jon McLaughlin - Indiana (with bonus CD; Island)
· Ne-Yo - Because of You (Def Jam) [Buy]
· Protest Hill - The City Echoes Our Hearts (Latest Flame)
· The Puppini Sisters - Betcha Bottom Dollar (Verve Forecast)
· Rush - Snakes & Arrows (limited edition feature MVI format; Atlantic) [Buy]
· Blake Shelton - Pure BS (Warner Bros.)
· Skull Time - Skull Time (Latest Flame) [Buy]
· Through the Sparks - Lazarus Beach (Skybucket) [Buy]
· Ben Weaver - Paper Sky (Fugawee Bird) [Buy]
· Patrick Wolf - The Magic Position (enhanced; Universal) [Buy]
· Various artists - New Arrivals: Volume Two (MPress)
· Various artists - "Spider-Man 3" soundtrack (Record Collection)
Notable Reissues and Archival Material:
· Paul Carrack - One Good Reason (American Beat) [Buy]
· Elvis Costello and the Attractions - Armed Forces; Blood & Chocolate; Get Happy!!; Goodbye Cruel World; Imperial Bedroom; King of America; My Aim Is True; Punch the Clock; The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years; This Year's Model; Trust (Hip-O) [Buy]
· John Eddie - John Eddie (American Beat) [Buy]
· Ian Gillan - Gillan's Inn - Deluxe Tour Edition (two CDs; Immergent) [Buy]
· Marcia Griffiths - Reggae Anthology: Melody Life (two CDs; VP) [Buy]
· David Johansen - In Style (American Beat) [Buy]
· Mr. Big - Live at the Hard Rock (American Beat)
· Billy Squier - The Tale of the Tape (American Beat) [Buy]
· Peter Wolf - Long Line (American Beat)
· Warren Zevon - Preludes: Rare and Unreleased Recordings (two CDs; New West) [Buy]
· Various artists - Body & Soul: Hip Hop Love (Time Life)
· Various artists - Dirty Dancing - Twentieth Anniversary Edition (with DVD; Time Life)
· Barbara Mandrell - "Best of Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters Show" (two DVDs; Time Life) [Buy]
· Charlotte Martin - "Something Like a DVD" (Dinosaur Fight) [Buy]
· Rush - "A Show of Hands," "Exit Stage Left" and "Grace Under Pressure - 1984" (Island/Mercury) [Buy]
· Santana - "Hymns for Peace: Live at Montreux 2004" (Eagle Vision) [Buy]
· The Soft Machine - Volume Two (Water) [Buy]
· Frank Zappa - "Classic Albums: Apostrophe/Over-Nite Sensation (Eagle Vision) [Buy]
· Björk - Volta (Atlantic) [Preorder]
· Bone Thugs-N-Harmony - Strength and Loyalty (Full Surface/ Interscope) [Preorder]
· Elliott Smith - New Moon (two CDs; Kill Rock Stars)
· Bobby Valentino - Special Occasion (Def Jam) [Preorder]
· Megadeth - United Abominations (Roadrunner) [Preorder]
· Linkin Park - Minutes to Midnight (Warner Bros.) [Preorder]
· Wilco - Sky Blue Sky (enhanced; Nonesuch) [Preorder]
· Tim Armstrong - A Poet's Life (with bonus DVD; Hellcat) [Preorder]
· The Bravery - The Sun and the Moon (Island) [Preorder]
· KRS-One and Marley Marl - Hip Hop Lives (Koch)
· Maroon 5 - It Won't Be Soon Before Long (Octone) [Preorder]
· Ozzy Osbourne - Black Rain (Epic) [Preorder]