Mandy Moore has a Wild Hope this week — to defeat the mighty White Stripes — but after a sporadic music career, her chances to do so are almost nil. Beyoncé is also back, but don't get too excited — her "B'Day Anthology Video Album" DVD encompasses all the clips fans probably already grabbed on the B'Day - Deluxe Edition set that came out last year and was subsequently yanked due to a lawsuit. But don't worry, there are still loads of new tunes to fill up those long summer nights.
Feeling Icky?: The Stripes slip out their sixth album, Icky Thump, mere weeks before their 10th birthday — and they've busted out bagpipes, a mariachi trumpet, church organ and more wacky instruments for the occasion. Even more colorful is the story behind one of the tracks, "I'm Slowly Turning Into You": Noted collaborator Michel Gondry pitched them a video concept that would depict Jack White slowly morphing into Meg through the guise of 98 additional actors, and the singer/guitarist liked the idea so much that he wrote a song with the visual concept in mind. Don't even get us started on "Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn," a song about the Scottish national flower.
Hope Floats: It's hard to pinpoint Mandy Moore's last tried-and-true release. Candy, issued in 2005, was a contractually obligated disc that culled old material she had previously disowned, and it didn't even chart on the Billboard 200. Before that was 2004's The Best of Mandy Moore, another compilation that reportedly ticked her off, and prior to that was Coverage — a batch of songs originally performed by other artists. That makes Wild Hope her first album of new studio material in six years — and this time around, she's co-written the whole shebang, with some help from Michelle Branch, Chantal Kreviazuk, Rachael Yamagata, and others. Songs include "Latest Mistake," "Can't You Just Adore Her?" and "Slummin' in Paradise."
Off the Hook: Chrisette Michele had a hand in Jay-Z's "Lost Ones" and Nas' "Can't Forget About You," singing on the hooks on both tracks. Now it's her time to shine — and Jay has returned the favor by issuing her debut on Def Jam. The soulful, jazz-influenced singer — who is set to open for Musiq Soulchild when he tours this summer — gets production help from Babyface, John Legend and Will.I.Am on I Am (how apropos!).
Stray Cats: Straylight Run jogged their way to one hell of a debut, getting rid of more than 200,000 copies of their independently released 2004 eponymous CD. The rock band — which features members of Taking Back Sunday — self-produced its second album, The Needles the Space, and the set includes "How Do I Fix My Head," "Soon We'll Be Living in the Future" and "The Miracle That Never Came."
Choppin' Time: Slimmed down to a threesome after the departure of bassist Kevin Rutmanis, Tomahawk actually sound larger than ever on their third album, Anonymous. Every bit as ambiguous and elusive as the title suggests, the album actually consists of Native American songs guitarist Duane Denison researched after collaborating years ago with cowboy from hell Hank Williams III. Appropriately titled songs include "Totem," "War Song" and four tracks named after dancing rituals.
Getting to Know ...: While you're probably familiar with most of the aforementioned artists, you might be overwhelmed by the litany of bands out there you've never even heard of. Here's some quick 411 on some other artists that are also cranking out CDs this week:
· The Aliens: No, Roky Erickson's old backing band isn't back from the dead — it's actually three founding duders from the Beta Band coming back together to create something that's more glam than trip-hop.
· The Confession: An Orange County, California, quintet that is going to be on this year's Warped Tour and counts Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows — who produced its Requiem debut — among its friends.
· Memphis: A lo-fi, soundscape-addicted band from Canada consisting of Stars co-founder Torquil Campbell and his pallie Chris Dumont.
· Lightning Dust: A minimalist project featuring two guys from groovy psych-rockers Black Mountain. Their self-titled debut was partially recorded in a cave, yo.
· Will Haven: This Sacramento, California, metal band played for a few years, then broke up in January 2002, then regrouped in October 2005. Their new album The Hierophant was co-produced by Deftones' Chino Moreno and ex-Far guitarist Shaun Lopez.
· Savath & Savalas: Another alias belonging to underground hip-hop producer Guillermo Scott Herren, who you probably best know as Prefuse 73. José González, Mia Doi Todd and Tarantula A.D. cellist Danny Bensi pay a visit on S&S' Golden Pollen.
· The Rondo Brothers: Not to be confused with Linkin Park's recently released Minutes to Midnight, these San Francisco producers' new one is titled Seven Minutes to Midnight and features contributions from Head Automatica/Glassjaw linchpin Daryl Palumbo.
· Von Südenfeld: An electro-dub-disco fusion thang featuring the Fall's Mark E. Smith and Mouse on Mars.
· Susperia: Formed by ex-members of Dimmu Borgir and Satyricon. But if you don't know your black metal, then you probably don't know those reference points either.
· Ron Block: Better known as a member of Alison Krauss' bluegrass-country collaborators, Union Station.
· The Marshall Tucker Band: If you aren't already familiar with these guys, you probably don't want to get to know them.
Song Title of the Week:
"Somebody Call Somebody" from Nora's Save Yourself
Album Cover of the Week:
· Art Brut's It's a Bit Complicated
"Is it so wrong / To break from a kiss to turn up a pop song?" "What's wrong? Scared to commit? Get on the dance floor, it's a direct hit!" Ah, yes, England's Art Brut are back, and frontman Eddie Argos has more amusing chatter to spill. The indie-rock five-piece — which has opened on tour for Ghostface, strangely — recorded its second effort with producer Dan Swift (Franz Ferdinand, Snow Patrol) at London's Terminal Studios. Songs — and no, you haven't heard these before, familiar as the titles might look — include: "Pump Up the Volume," "I Will Survive" and "Soundtrack of the Summer."
· Burning Brides' Hang Love
The Philadelphia rawkers bust out their third release this week, and the track list ranges from a song about a forlorn lover ("She Comes to Me") to one about a serial killer on the loose ("Waring Street"). The band — which includes a married couple — used to be on V2 but has now partnered with indie imprint Modart for the release. That probably means less exposure for the group, but the move gives the Brides more control over their material — and the right to own the Hang Love master tapes, best of all.
· The Number Twelve Looks Like You's Mongrel
The spazz-metal band — whose name is taken from a 1964 episode of "The Twilight Zone" — titled its third album as such because the songs are so indefinable. As singer Jesse Korman told MTV News, "We wanted this album to be just complete chaos, with no direction at all." The band elaborates on the disc on its Web site, saying in a post: "A product of harried miscegenation, a foaming mix breed halved and re-halved by the pitifully obvious and the suddenly homicidal, Mongrel is a collusion of conflicting desires and uncontrollable urges, a heart-eating hellion seesawing wildly between the need for stasis and an unflinching commitment to violence." Sold?
· 16 Volt - Full Black Habit (Metropolis)
· The Aliens - Astronomy for Dogs (Astralwerks)
· Ellen Allien - Fabric 34: Ellen Allien (Fabric)
· Art Brut - It's a Bit Complicated (Downtown)
· Arthur & Yu - In Camera (Hardly Art)
· August Burns Red - Messengers (Solid State)
· Ron Block - DoorWay (Rounder)
· Bon Jovi - Lost Highway (Mercury Nashville) [Buy Now]
· Burning Brides - Hang Love (Modern Art)
· Kenny Burrell - 75th Birthday Bash Live! (Blue Note)
· Ron Carter - Dear Miles, (Blue Note)
· The Confession - Requiem (Science)
· Ferry Corsten - Passport United States of America (Ultra)
· Deborah Cox - Destination Moon (Decca) [Buy Now]
· Dimitri From Paris - Disco Cocktail (two CDs; BBE)
· Donnie - The Daily News (SoulThought Entertainment)
· Down to the Bone - Supercharged (Narada)
· Euge Groove - Born 2 Groove (Narada)
· The Fridge - The Sun (Temporary Residence)
· The Ghost Is Dancing - The Darkest Spark (Sonic Unyon)
· The Hangmen - In the City (Acetate)
· Jennifer Gentle - The Midnight Room (Sub Pop)
· The Junior Varsity - Cinematographic (Victory)
· Kenna - Make Sure They See My Face (Interscope) [Buy Now]
· Lifehouse - Who We Are (Geffen) [Buy Now]
· Lightning Dust - Lightning Dust (Jagjaguwar)
· Man in Gray - I Can't Sleep Unless I Hear You Breathing (Serious Business)
· Maps - We Can Create (Mute)
· Memphis - A Little Place in the Wilderness (Good Fences)
· Chrisette Michele - I Am (Def Jam) [Buy Now]
· The Midway State - Met a Man on Top of the Hill (EP; Interscope)
· Minus Story - My Ion Truss (Jagjaguwar)
· Mooney Suzuki - Have Mercy (Elexia)
· Mandy Moore - Wild Hope (Firm) [Buy Now]
· Nora - Save Yourself (Trustkill)
· The Number Twelve Looks Like You - Mongrel (Eyeball)
· Brad Paisley - 5th Gear (Arista)
· The Polyphonic Spree - The Fragile Army (TVT) [Buy Now]
· Project 86 - Rival Factions (Tooth & Nail)
· Rasheeda - Dat Type of Gurl (D-Lo/Imperial)
· Rasputina - Oh Perilous World (Filthy Bonnet)
· Rondo Brothers - Seven Minutes to Midnight (War Chant)
· Xavier Rudd - White Moth (Anti-)
· Ruiner - Prepare to Be Let Down (Bridge Nine)
· Savath & Savalas - Golden Pollen (Anti-)
· Shop Boyz - Rockstar Mentality (Republic)
· Bob Sinclair - Soundz of Freedom (two CDs; Tommy Boy)
· Specimen - Electric Ballroom (Metropolis)
· Stamen & Pistils - Towns (Echleon)
· Straylight Run - The Needles the Space (enhanced; Republic) [Buy Now]
· Sugar Ray and the Bluetones - My Life, My Friends, My Music (Severn)
· Susperia - Cut From Stone (Candlelight)
· To the Lions - Baptism of Fire (Goodfellow)
· Tomahawk - Anonymous (Ipecac)
· Two Gallants - The Scenery of Farewell (EP; Saddle Creek)
· The Marshall Tucker Band - The Next Adventure (Shout! Factory)
· David Vandervelde - Nothin No (Secretly Canadian)
· Von Südenfeld - Tromatic Reflexxions (Domino)
· White Stripes - Icky Thump (Warner Bros.) [Buy Now]
· Will Haven - The Heirophant (Bieler Bros.)
· Various artists - "Evan Almighty" soundtrack (Varèse Sarabande)
· Various artists - "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" soundtrack (Sony Classical)
Notable Reissues and Archival Material:
· Air Supply - Best of Air Supply: The Ones That You Love (Arista/Legacy) [Buy Now]
· William Bell - The Very Best of William Bell (Stax/Concord)
· Booker T. and the MG's - The Very Best of Booker T. and the MG's (Stax/Concord)
· Robert Foster and Grant McLennan - Intermission: The Best of the Solo Recordings 1990-1997 (two CDs; Beggars Banquet)
· Marvin Gaye - In Our Lifetime? The Expanded Love Man Edition (limited-edition two-CD set; Motown/UMe)
· Isaac Hayes - Chocolate Chip (Stax/Concord)
· Albert King - The Very Best of Albert King (Stax/Concord)
· Kinky - Rarities (Sonic360)
· Gladys Knight & the Pips - Love Finds Its Own Way: The Best of Gladys Knight & the Pips (Buddah/Legacy)
· Van Morrison - The Best of Van Morrison Volume 3 (two CDs; Manhattan/EMI)
· Papa Roach - The Paramour Sessions (Geffen)
· The Staple Sisters - The Very Best of the Staple Sisters (Stax/Concord)
· Various artists - Summer of Love: The Hits of 1967 (box set with two CDs and one DVD; Time Life)
· Various artists - The Very Best of Praise & Worship, Volume 2 (Verity/Legacy)
· Anita Baker - "Rapture Live" (Immortal)
· Beyoncé - "B'Day Anthology Video Album" (Columbia)
· Bryan Ferry - "Dylanesque Live: The London Sessions" (Eagle Vision)
· Sammy Hagar - "Sammy and the Wabos: Livin' It Up! in St. Louis" (Image)
· Rusted Root - "Rusted Root" (Fontana/Island)
· Grover Washington Jr. - "Live From Atlantic City" (Immortal)
· Grand National - A Drink and a Quick Decision (deluxe-CD version hits stores September 10; Recall)
· 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) [Preorder]
· Velvet Revolver - Libertad (RCA) [Preorder]
· All-American Rejects - "Tournado" DVD (Interscope)
· Aly & AJ - Insomniatic (Hollywood) [Preorder]
· Interpol - Our Love to Admire (special edition packaged in hard-covered book form due same day; Capitol)
· Mike Jones - The American Dream (Ice Age)
· Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist (Reprise) [Preorder]