Bobby Valentino Vs. Bjork, Plus Bone Thugs, Paris Bennett, Elliott Smith, H.I.M. & More, In New Releases

Also due Tuesday: Sea and Cake, Bad Plus, Sea Wolf, Shannon Wright, Travis, Master P, Radiohead.

With everyone still reeling from Saturday’s riveting de la Hoya/ Mayweather match — we wanted more blood, but UFC has been spoiling us — what better time for another edition of New Releases face-offs? Here are the record-bin battles you can expect to see this week:

Calling Timbaland – Fight for the Crown: Bobby Valentino‘s Special Occasion vs. Björk‘s Volta
>>> The Mississippi R&B singer made a stunningly auspicious debut with his 2005 eponymous LP, which peaked at #3 on the Billboard albums chart. Valentino has invited even more friends to his new Special OccasionTimbaland (“Anonymous”), Fabolous (“Let Him Go”) and Ludacris (“Rearview [Ridin']“) among them. Also featured is a cover of Babyface‘s “Soon as I Get Home,” as well as a boatload of hit-making producers and songwriters: Sean Garrett, Bryan Michael-Cox, Dre & Vidal, Timbaland and Rodney Jerkins.

>>> Björk’s Volta is also spewing with collaborators, chiefly producer Timbaland, who is behind three of the tracks: “Earth Intruders,” “Innocence” and “Hope.” With Antony Hagerty of Antony and the Johnsons duetting on two songs — “The Dull Flame of Desire” and “My Juvenile” — plus a 10-piece brass section, a band from the Congo and other diverse guests, Björk is ready to break out. That her last studio LP, 2004′s Medúlla, was her highest-charting one yet in the U.S. only helps poise her for even greater success.

As Not Seen on TV – The “Idol” Contest: Paris Bennett‘s Princess P vs. Paula Abdul‘s Greatest Hits: Straight Up!
>>> While Jordin, LaKisha, Blake and Melinda keep hashing out on season six of “American Idol,” one of last year’s contenders doesn’t want you to forget about her. Fifth-place finisher Bennett has at last dished up her solo debut, named after the nickname Ryan Seacrest endowed her with during the competition. Adding even more frothy “Idol” goodness is a guest spot by fellow contender Kevin Covais on “Let Me Rap”; other tracks on the LP, partly produced by Rodney Jerkins, include “All Hail the Princess,” “Burnt Up” and “Get Bizzy.”

>>> Meanwhile, “Idol” judge Abdul doesn’t want you to forget that she’s got pipes of her own — her Greatest Hits: Straight Up! bundles together 18 selections by the Grammy-winning singer, including “Opposites Attract,” “Forever Your Girl” and “Rush, Rush.” The clips for her six #1 singles are also coming out this week, so be on the lookout for MC Skat Kat.

A Bone to Pick – The Rap Battle: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony‘s Strength & Loyalty vs. Bone BrothersBone Brothers 2
>>> Cleveland’s Thugs have clocked roughly 40 million CDs sold worldwide, but they’ve been on the wane lately — last year’s Thug Stories barely scraped the top 25 on the Billboard albums chart. But with a new label — they were on Koch but now call Interscope home — and a litany of high-profile peeps lending support (Mariah, Akon, Bow Wow, Swizz Beatz, Will.I.Am), the now-trio are aiming a bit higher. The Best Buy edition of Strength & Loyalty, originally called The Bone Thugs Story, has the exclusive cut “Just Vibe,” while Hastings Entertainment’s version features an exclusive “I Tried” remix.

>>> While those guys are hoping for a resurgence, two other bros — founding members Bizzy Bone and Layzie Bone — have a few things of their own to say with Bone Brothers 2. While Layzie has kept it real with Bone Thugs, Bizzy has since been ousted — which should make the first song on their LP, “Bone Thugs-N-Harmony,” pretty interesting. Also featured is “We Are Warriors,” “Thugs Need Luv” and “Bone Thug 4 Life.”

Lest You Forget – Vying in the Vaults: Elliott Smith‘s New Moon vs. H.I.M.‘s And Love Said No: The Greatest Hits 1997-2004
>>> Smith fans got a raft of unreleased material with 2004′s From a Basement on the Hill, which culled 15 songs the singer/songwriter was on the verge of releasing before he passed away in 2003. Digging a little deeper, his label Kill Rock Stars has chalked up 24 more songs he recorded from 1994 to 1997, including “Looking Over My Shoulder,” “All Cleaned Out” and an early version of “Miss Misery.” Let’s just pray that this is the final word on Smith and that his estate doesn’t plunder the vaults ad nauseum à la Jeff Buckley‘s.

>>> While New Moon showcases material up through 1997, Finnish goth gushers H.I.M. begin at that year and take their best-of set through 2004. The band pours its heartagrams out on two new songs, “And Love Said No” and a cover of — yes, they really did it — Neil Diamond‘s “Solitary Man.” Fans pining for more unreleased material can hold their collective breath for two weeks, when Uneasy Listening Vol. 2 hits stores.

Ahoy, Mateys — Battle on the High Seas: The Sea and Cake‘s Everybody vs. Sea Wolf‘s Get to the River Before It Runs Too Low
>>> While Chicago indie cognoscenti Sam Prekop, Archer Prewitt and John McEntire are always rearing their heads in one form or another — via side projects, collaborations, etc. — it’s taken them four long years to crank out another opus. This one marks the first time in the band’s 14-year history that it’s looked outward for production help — the honors go to Brian Paulson (Wilco, Slint). Songs include “Up on Crutches,” “Middlenight” and “Introducing.”

>>> Look deeper in the underground ocean and you’ll find Sea Wolf, who got their handle from the Jack London book of the same name. Roaming California troubadour Alex Brown Church is actually the man at the heart of the band, and he sews together guitar, cello and other lush sounds for his five-song debut EP. “You’re a Wolf,” “The Garden You Planted” and “I Don’t Know if I’ll Be Back This Time” are featured on the disc, which is issued by the red-hot Dangerbird Records (Silversun Pickups, All Smiles).

Yo Momma – Family Feud: Mother Mother‘s Touch Up vs. Mothernight‘s Mothernight
>>> Last Gang Records — which brought you Metric and Death From Above 1979 — rolls out the carpet for its latest hopefuls, Vancouver, British Columbia’s jazz- and classical-influenced popsmiths Mother Mother. Better yet, they really are a family affair — singer/guitarist Ryan Guldemond is the brother of singer Molly. Their first set was produced by New Pornographers collaborator Howard Redekopp and features “Polynesia,” “Oh Ana” and “Ball Cap.”

>>> Also being introduced are Mothernight, an industrial-metal band from Warsaw that sounds nothing like the above. Fronted by Freya, the four-piece found a strange time to put out its maiden release — after all, Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote a book called “Mother Night” died less than a month ago. The song titles featured on Touch Up, however, don’t quite mesh with Vonnegut’s dark comedy — among them are “Someone to Feed On,” “Shadowsblack” and “Infect Your Soul.”

Song Title of the Week:

“Crackle Rotcha Tee Thout” from Chasing Victory‘s Fiends

Other Notables:

Lavender Diamond‘s Imagine Our Love
These country folksters have been making some pleasant noise in their Los Angeles hometown and beyond lately, and Matador is hoping they become the label’s next Belle & Sebastian or New Pornographers. Giving Lavender Diamond — who are led by cool singer Becky Stark — an extra boost is their recent performance at South by Southwest, overseas deal with Rough Trade and recent tour with the Decemberists.

The Mary Timony Band‘s The Shapes We Make
Timony’s former band Helium were one of Matador’s key ’90s linchpins, as a matter of fact, but after many subsequent years of obscurity, she’s hoping to rebound with this release produced by Jawbox‘s J. Robbins. Timony enlists keyboards, banjos, analog synths, the melotron, viola, and even an old Casio PT1 for the LP, which was crafted in Robbins’ Baltimore studio and Timony’s attic studio in her Washington, D.C., home.

Wooden StarsPeople Are Different
This Canadian band nabbed the Juno Award for Best Alternative Album for its collaborative effort with Julie Doiron in 2000 — and it celebrated the prize by disbanding for four years. Now the Wooden Stars are shining bright again with their first release in eight years, which sounds something like XTC jamming with the Clash. If these guys can count the Arcade Fire among their fans, surely they can count you as well.

New Releases:

· Keren Ann – Keren Ann (Blue Note)
· The Bad Plus – Prog (Heads Up)
· Bassnectar – Underground Communication (Om)
· The Bellamy Brothers – Jesus Is Coming (Curb)
· Paris Bennett – Princess P (306)
Read: “Idols Now: Paris Bennett Debut Includes Rapper … Kevin Covais?”
· Steve Bertrand – Pain Is a Megaphone (enhanced; Icon)
· Björk – Volta (Atlantic) [Buy]
Read: “Tsunami, Timbaland Help Shape Bjork’s Forthcoming Volta
· Bone Brothers – Bone Brothers 2 (Real Talk/ Koch)
· Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – Strength & Loyalty (Full Surface/ Interscope) [Buy]
Read: “Bone Thugs Dropping Two New LPs; Second Disc To Feature Dre, Kanye, Mariah”
· The Boggs – Forts (Gigantic) [Buy]
· The Brakes – The Beatific Visions (enhanced; Rough Trade)[Buy]
· The Breakers – Here for a Laugh (Funzalo)
· The Brokedowns – New Brains for Everyone (Thick)
· Chanticleer – And on Earth, Peace: A Chanticleer Mass (Warner Classics)
· Chasing Victory – Fiends (Mono vs Stereo)
· Circus – Labertino (Locomotive)
· The Clientele – God Save the Clientele (Merge)
· Dan Deacon – Spiderman of the Rings (Carpark)
· Linda Draper – Keepsake (Planting Seeds)
· Earthless – Rhythms From a Cosmic Sky (Tee Pee) [Buy]
· Edge of Dawn – Enjoy the Fall (Metropolis)
· Electrelane – No Shouts No Calls (Too Pure)
· DJ Encore – Unique (Koch)
· The Exies – A Modern Way of Living With the Truth (Eleven Seven)
· Fields – Everything Last Winter (Atlantic)
· Scott Fisher & 1 a.m. Approach – Step Into the Future (1 a.m. Approach)
· Foreverinmotion – The Beautiful Unknown (111)
· Sage Francis – Human the Death Dance (Epitaph)
· Lisa Gerrard – Silver Tree (High Wire)
· Goon Moon – Licker’s Last Leg (Ipecac)
· Great Lake Swimmers – Ongiara (Nettwerk)
· Harper – Day by Day (Blind Pig)
· Dave Hole – Rough Diamond (Blind Pig)
· The Ike Reilly Assassination – We Belong to the Staggering Evening (Rock Ridge)
· Jackiem Joyner – Babysoul (ARTizen)
· Kotipelto – Serenity (Candlelight)
· Jimmy LaFave – Cimarron Manifesto (Red House)
· Lavender Diamond – Imagine Our Love (digipak; Matador)
· Fred Lonberg-Holm Trio – Terminal Valentine (Atavistic)
· Hamilton Loomis – Ain’t Just Temporary (Blind Pig)
· Lord Belial – Revelation (Regain)
· Maxïmo Park – Our Earthly Pleasures (Warp)
· Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours – Trailercana (DPR)
· Mother Mother – Touch Up (Last Gang)
· Mothernight – Mothernight (Locomotive)
· Mystery Jets – Zootime (Dim Mak)
· Neon Horse — Neon Horse (Tooth & Nail)
· New Years Day – My Dear (enhanced; TVT)
· No Second Troy – Narcotic (None)
· Page France – Page France and the Family Telephone (Suicide Squeeze)
· Chuck Ragan – Los Feliz (Side One Dummy)
· Rush of Fools – Rush of Fools (Midas)
· Sage Francis – Human the Death Dance (Epitaph)
· The Sea and Cake – Everybody (Thrill Jockey)
· Sea Wolf – Get to the River Before It Runs Too Low (EP; angerbird)
· Richard Shindell – South of Delia (self-release)
· The Stranger’s Six – A Date With Daylight (Orange Peal)
· Barbra Streisand – Live in Concert 2006 (two CDs; Columbia)
· Tarwater – Spider Smile (Morr)
· The Mary Timony Band – The Shapes We Make (Kill Rock Stars)
· Travis – The Boy With No Name (Epic)
· Bobby Valentino – Special Occasion (Def Jam) [Buy]
Read: “Bobby Valentino Looks Out For The Ladies With New Album, Jean Line”
· The Voyces – Kissing Like It’s Love (Planting Seeds)
· Wax Tailor – Hope & Sorrow (Decon)
· Weatherbox – American Art (Doghouse)
· Wooden Stars – People Are Different (Sonic Unyon)
· Shannon Wright – Let in the Light (Quarterstick)
· Yacht – I Believe in You. Your Magic Is Real. (Marriage)
· Various artists – New Arrivals, Vol. 2 (MPress)

Notable Reissues and Archival Material:
· Paula Abdul – Greatest Hits: Straight Up! (Virgin/EMI) [Buy]
· The Coasters – The Definitive Soul Collection (Rhino) [Buy]
· Easy Rider – Lo Mejor de Easy Rider (Locomotive)
· The Heptones – Sweet Talking (Heartbeat/Rounder) [Buy]
· H.I.M. – And Love Said No: The Greatest Hits 1997-2004 (Universal Republic)
· Jethro Tull – The Best of Acoustic Jethro Tull (Capitol/EMI)
· Carole King – Love Makes the World – Deluxe Edition (two CDs; Rockingale)
· KMFDM – Adios and Symbols (Metropolis)
· Dave Mason – Live at XM Satellite Radio – The Deluxe Edition (Friday Music)
· Master P – Ghetto D – 10th Anniversary Edition (two CDs; Priority)
· Radiohead – Com Lag (2Plus2IsFive) (enhanced EP; Capitol) [Buy]
· The Rascals – The Definitive Pop Collection (Rhino)
· Leo Sayer – The Definitive Pop Collection (Rhino)
· Elliott Smith – New Moon (two CDs; Kill Rock Stars) [Buy]
· Terry Strafford – Say, Has Anyone Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose (Koch)
· Tankard – Disco Destroyer (Locomotive)
· Dale Watson – The Little Darlin’ Sessions (Koch)

Music DVDs:
· John Coltrane – “Trane Tracks: The Legacy of John Coltrane” (Jazz Movie Classics) [Buy]
· Dinosaur Jr. – “Live in the Middle East” (Image)
· The Knack – “On Stage at World Cafe Live” (Decca)
· Living Colour – “On Stage at World Cafe Live” (Decca)
· Rhett Miller – “On Stage at World Cafe Live” (Decca)
· David Poe – “On Stage at World Cafe Live” (Decca)
· Baden Powell – “Self Portrait – 1990″ (DRG)
· Rainbow – “Up Close and Personal” (with book; Hurricane)
· Spooky Tooth – “Nomad Poets – Live in Germany 2004″ (Koch)
· Thin Lizzy – “Up Close and Personal” (with book; Hurricane)
· Grover Washington Jr. – “Live From Atlantic City” (Immortal)

Coming Attractions:

May 15:
· Megadeth – United Abominations (Roadrunner) [Preorder]
· Linkin Park – Minutes to Midnight (Warner Bros.) [Preorder]
Read: “Linkin Park Finish Apocalyptic Album, Revive Projekt Revolution Tour”
· Wilco – Sky Blue Sky (enhanced; Nonesuch) [Preorder]

May 22:
· Tim Armstrong – A Poet’s Life (with bonus DVD; Hellcat)
· 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]
Read: “Maroon 5 Back With ‘Harder’ Album After Adam Levine Gets Sick Of Partying”
· Ozzy Osbourne – Black Rain (Epic)

May 29:
· Les Claypool – “Fancy” DVD (Prawn Song) [Preorder]
· Danzig – The Lost Tracks of Danzig (two CDs; Megaforce) [Preorder]
Read: “Glenn Danzig Preps ‘Final’ Tour, Film, Box Set And, Uh, Dolls”
· R. Kelly – Double Up (Jive) [Preorder]
Read: “New R. Kelly LP Includes Akon, Jeezy, ‘Flirt’ — But No ‘Closet’ Till July”