A decade ago Tuesday (June 12), inter-league play was introduced into Major League Baseball, tearing down the wall that prevented American and National League teams from competing outside the World Series — and giving migraines to fans who hate designated hitters.
So what more appropriate place to celebrate the 10-year anniversary than in a column about new CDs (talk about inter-league play!)? Well, ESPN, probably — but we're going to have a little fun anyway by pitting disparate artists from different genres against each other and seeing what happens. Let's play ball!
Fabolous vs. Queens of the Stone Age
Fab was wise to wait a week before finally releasing his forever-delayed From Nothin' to Somethin' — last week he would've be up against Rihanna, Daddy Yankee and T-Pain, whereas this week he's got the hip-hop playing field pretty much all to himself. Having said that, Rih Rih and T-Pain actually both pay a visit on Fab's LP — as do Jay-Z, Young Jeezy, Akon, Ne-Yo and basically every other major rapper you can name.
But QOTSA have a few friends too — namely affiliate Mark Lanegan and Julian Casablancas of the Strokes, both of whom tag along with the band as it ushers in its new Era Vulgaris. Trent Reznor, another pal of frontman Josh Homme, collaborated with the band as well, but their resulting song — called "Era Vulgaris," actually — is being reserved for bonus-track purposes. Speaking of which, Best Buy has a bonus all its own — a cover of Billy Idol's "White Wedding."
Betting Line: Fab unloads a ton more discs than QOTSA, but "White Wedding"? Come on. Homme gives a better interview too.
DJ Khaled vs. Enrique Iglesias
Miami hip-hop is staying hot thanks in part to DJ Khaled, whose 99 Jamz WEDR radio show is the most popular one in the city. He's hoping his hometown success translates across the rest of the country with his sophomore album, We the Best — which comes almost exactly a year after he dropped his Listennn ... The Album debut. He's got a ton of friends in tow to ensure chart appeal: T.I., Game, Lil Wayne, Akon, Ludacris, Ja Rule, Rick Ross, Juelz Santana and Young Jeezy — and that's not even the whole list.
Also banging out of MIA this week is Iglesias — he wasn't born in Miami (Madrid, Spain, can claim that honor) but is based there. Wayne is buds with him too, apparently — Weezy crops up on "Push," a new track featured on the singer's three-years-in-the-works Insomniac. There aren't nearly as many guests on the 15-track bilingual album as on Khaled's LP — although producer Sean Garrett does help out — but the rap DJ still has a little catching up to do, as Enrique has already dished out more than 40 million copies of his albums over the course of roughly a decade.
Betting Line: Enrique, who loves smack talk, will likely bring the smackdown.
DMX vs. Tia Carrera
He acts, she acts — except the "she" in question is actually a "they." That's right: Tia Carrera (not Carrere, for those of you who are paying close attention) are a blues-metal band from Austin, Texas. TC's new Heaven/Hell release is only an EP, but that's still more fresh material than you'll get from DMX this week. While he's working on a new studio album called Soul of a Man, former label Def Jam has taken the time to issue a 20-track best-of comp — but there aren't any goodies on The DEFinition of X: Pick of the Litter.
Betting Line: X isn't someone you ever want to mess with — in the record racks or anywhere else — and even though Tia Carrera (the band) isn't really the actress, they should still have to live down this movie.
Tupac Shakur vs. Sonic Youth
Like DMX, 'Pac is getting stuck with an archival release with no new material: Beginnings: The Lost Tapes 1988-1991, which is a straight reissue of the set. Sonic Youth are pouring plenty of treats onto a reissue of their own — a deluxe-edition version of their iconic indie-rock album, Daydream Nation. Dropping 19 years after it was first issued — why didn't the label just wait a year on the reissue and make it an even 20? — the album now features live versions of all the songs featured on the LP, studio bonuses and covers of Beatles, Mudhoney, Captain Beefheart and Neil Young tunes. If you're still not convinced, Daydream Nation was one of the first 200 albums chosen by the Library of Congress to be included in the National Recording Registry. So there ya go.
Datarock vs. Katatonia
The debut album by Datarock — Datarock Datarock, no self-promotion there! — has cemented the Norwegian dance-pop band abroad since the LP's release two years ago. Now the sucker — with its references to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and love letter to Laurie Anderson — is finally hitting the States. "In Norwegian, you would call a computer a 'data machine' ... but in English, 'data' means information, which is even more appropriate because Datarock is essentially the product of 30 years of the information society," Fredrik Saroea," one-half of the duo, said in a statement. Too much in-for-ma-tion!
Veteran doom/goth-metal band Katatonia, from neighbor-to-the-east Sweden, take a, uh, slightly milder approach than Datarock. In a recent statement surrounding the band's recent The Great Cold Distance LP, singer Jonas Renkse said: "While embracing this album, one must know that it will only help to increase the coldness between us. It's a devious life. And this is a soundtrack to it." Now they're dishing up Live Consternation, a CD/DVD set that captures Katatonia's performance at the Summerbreeze Festival in Germany last year and includes Cold tracks as well.
Betting Line: Songs like "Computer Camp Love," "Night Flight to Uranus" and "I Used to Dance With My Daddy" give Datarock the edge.
Would the above list not make for a killer sequel to the "Judgment Night" soundtrack?
Song Title of the Week:
"Woof & Warp of the Quiet Giant's Hem" from Blitzen Trapper's Wild Mountain Nation
Album Cover of the Week:
Pig Destroyer's Phantom Limb
"The most deranged metal songs we could come up with." That's what singer J.R. Hayes said in a statement about the extreme-metal band's latest LP, which features "Rotten Yellow," "Girl in a Slayer Jacket" and "Thought Crime Spree." The quartet — which features a sound/noise manipulator but not a bassist, if you can believe it — included signed CD booklets with preordered copies of the disc.
Wooden Wand's James & the Quiet
This songwriter, whose parents named James Jackson Toth, sometimes plays with NYC psych-folk unit Vanishing Voice — or with his own band, which confusingly also plays under the same Wooden Wand moniker. (Adding to the insanity, two members of Vanishing Voice perform on this release, even though it's being credited to Wooden Wand — the man and the band, we presume.) That'll be cleared up soon enough, as this is expected to be the last release Toth will put out under the Wooden Wand alias. None of this seems to have bothered members of Sonic Youth, who have nearly taken him/them in as their own — Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace is the label releasing this album, and Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley lent a hand for it.
Blitzen Trapper's Wild Mountain Nation
In case the band and album names don't already give you the sense that you're lost in the woods somewhere, the conceit is furthered by song titles like "Badger's Black Brigade," "Country Caravan" and "Wild Mtn. Jam." The Portland, Oregon, six-piece is putting out this effort all on its own — but recent and upcoming gigs with Modest Mouse and the Hold Steady should boost Blitzen Trapper's profile. Just don't tell Santa!
· A Perfect Murder - War of Aggression (Victory)
· Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem - Big Old Life (Signature)
· Blitzen Trapper - Wild Mountain Nation (Lidkercow)
· Block - The Last Single Guy (Sona Blast!)
· Blue Scholars - Bayani (Rawkus)
· Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles - Diamonds in the Dark (Sugar Hill)
· Cherryholmes - Cherryholmes II: Black and White (Skaggs Family)
· Child Abuse - Child Abuse (Lovepump United) [Buy Now]
· Chow Nasty - Super (Electrical) Recordings (Omega)
· Paula Cole - Courage (Decca) [Buy Now]
· The Conformists - Three Hundred (54-40 or Fight)
· Crunchy Black - From Me to You (Asylum)
· Damnation A.D. - In This Life or the Next (Victory)
· Datarock - Datarock Datarock (Nettwerk)
· John Doe - A Year in the Wilderness (Yep Roc)
· Fabolous - From Nothin' to Somethin' (Def Jam) [Buy Now]
· Fair to Midland - Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True (Republic)
· Firescape - Dancehall Apocalypse (Red Ink) [Buy Now]
· The Gaslight Anthem - Sink or Swim (XOXO)
· Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd - After the Night Falls and Before the Day Breaks (Darla)
· Michael Hearst - Songs for Ice Cream Trucks (Bar/None)
· Jon T. Howard - Time for Something New (Mettafour)
· I Hate Sally - Don't Worry Lady (Density)
· Enrique Iglesias - Insomniac (Interscope) [Buy Now]
· Joan as Police Woman - Real Life (Cheap Lullaby)
· Katatonia - Live Consternation (with DVD; Peaceville)
· Toby Keith - Big Dog Daddy (Show Dog Nashville)
· DJ Khaled - We the Best (Terror Squad/ Koch)
· Eddie Levert Sr. & Gerald Levert - Something to Talk About (Atlantic)
· Little Texas - Missing Years (Montage)
· The Lodger - Grown-Ups (Slumberland)
· Mad Juana - Acoustic Voodoo (Azra)
· Jono Manson - Summertime (Sunset)
· The Mission U.K. - God Is a Bullet (Cooking Vinyl)
· Abra Moore - On the Way (Sarathan)
· Laurie Morvan Band - Cures What Ails Ya (Screaming Lizard)
· Napalm Death - Punishment in Capitals (Eagle Rock)
· Mark Olson - The Salvation Blues (Hacktone)
· Paramore - Riot! (MVI album with bonus CD due same day; Fueled by Ramen)
· People Noise - Ordinary Ghosts (self-released)
· Pig Destroyer - Phantom Limb (Relapse)
· Queens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris (Interscope) [Buy Now]
· Mark Ronson - Version (Red Ink)
· Saturna - Some Delicious Enemy (Nexus Underground) [Buy Now]
· Scissors for Lefty - Underhanded Romance (Eenie Meenie)
· SoCalled - Ghettoblaster (JDub)
· Spyro Gyra - Good to Go-Go (Heads Up)
· Takeovers - Bad Football (Off) [Buy Now]
· Tia Carrera - Heaven/Hell (EP; Arclight)
· Tuatara - East of the Sun (Fast Horse)
· David Vandervelde - Nothin No (EP; Secretly Canadian)
· Wooden Wand - James & the Quiet (Ecstatic Peace)
· Various artists - Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur (two CDs; Warner Bros.)
· Various artists - "Nancy Drew" soundtrack (Bulletproof)
Notable Reissues and Archival Material:
· Bad Manners - Stupidity (SOS)
· The Bongos - Drums Along the Hudson (Cooking Vinyl)
· Buckethead/ Travis Dickerson - Chicken Noodles, Gorgone and Death Cube K Tunnel (TDRS)
· Bullet for My Valentine - The Poison - Deluxe Edition (with DVD; Jive)
· James Cotton - Vanguard Visionaries (Vanguard)
· Dick Dale - Checkered Flag; King of the Surf Guitar; Mr. Eliminator; and Summer Surf (Sundazed)
· DMX - The DEFinition of X: Pick of the Litter (Def Jam) [Buy Now]
· Yvonne Elliman - Simple Needs (EP; Eborhythm)
· Moe. - Warts & All 5 (three-CD box set; Fat Boy)
· Nada Surf - Karmic (Hi-Speed Soul) [Buy Now]
· O'Death - Head Home (Ernest Jenning)
· Tupac Shakur - Beginnings: The Lost Tapes 1988-1991 (Koch) [Buy Now]
· Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation - Deluxe Edition (two CDs; Geffen/UMe)
· Andy Summers - Synaesthesia (Times Square)
· Keith Sweat - Sweat Hotel Live (Shout! Factory)
· Traveling Wilburys - The Traveling Wilburys Collection (two CDs and one DVD; deluxe edition due same day; Rhino)
· Dan Zanes and Friends - How to Grow a Family Band Gift Set (six-CD box set with book; Ryko)
· Black Sabbath - "Up Close and Personal" (Hurricane) [Buy Now]
· Deep Purple - "Live at Montreux 2006" (Eagle Vision) [Buy Now]
· Keith Sweat - "Sweat Hotel Live" (Shout! Factory) [Buy Now]
· Various artists - "Atlantic Records: The House That Ahmet Built" (Rhino)
· Various artists - "Glastonbury" (two DVDs; Velocity)
· The Dilettantes - 101 Tambourines (in stores July 10; StrangerTouch)
· Metric - Grow Up and Blow Away (available exclusively on iTunes until June 26, when it is properly released; Last Gang) [Buy Now]
· Mandy Moore - Wild Hope (Firm) [Preorder]
· Tomahawk - Anonymous (Ipecac)
· White Stripes - Icky Thump (Warner Bros.) [Preorder]
· Beastie Boys - The Mix-Up (Capitol) [Preorder]
· Kelly Clarkson - My December (RCA) [Preorder]
· Metric - Grow Up and Blow Away (Last Gang) [Preorder]
· Kelly Rowland - Ms. Kelly (Columbia) [Preorder]
· T.I. - T.I. vs. T.I.P. (Atlantic)
· Velvet Revolver - Libertad (RCA) [Preorder]