The new releases are raging this week, with labels cranking out a ton of titles to make up for last week's holiday respite. Fittingly, Tuesday (July 10) is the 86th birthday of the original Raging Bull, boxer Jake LaMotta, so, in the spirit of the sport, we're pitting this week's contenders against each other boxing-match style. Let's get ready to rumble!
Main Event: Smashing Pumpkins vs. Interpol
The Pumpkins might actually have more in common with Crowded House — both bands recently reunited and just played at Live Earth. But when it comes to the Billboard albums chart, Billy Corgan and his cohorts have a more formidable opponent in Interpol. The Pumpkins actually tried to issue their Zeitgeist comeback LP on Saturday, to coincide with the worldwide concert event, but alas, the U.S. is still caught up in that whole Tuesday-release thing. With songs like "Doomsday Clock," "Neverlost," "For God and Country" and more, the band's album should fit comfortably next to Nine Inch Nails' Year Zero or even Linkin Park's Minutes to Midnight.
In the other corner loom the ever-gloomy Interpol — and while their new effort Our Love to Admire has an insipid album title, it has been ratcheting up strong reviews in Mojo and elsewhere. Most striking of all might actually be the specially packaged version of the release, which comes in hardcover-book casing and contains a poster to boot. And if you're reading this in Japan, you have access to two additional tracks tacked onto the release: "Mind Over Time" and an instrumental version of "Mammoth."
Heavyweights: Aly & AJ vs. Cheetah Girls
The sisters Michalka have had their hands full lately — if you haven't seen them starring in the recent "Super Sweet 16: The Movie," then you might have caught them hyping Hope for Education (they're the charity's spokespeople) or even gracing the cover of (sigh) Honey-Comb cereal boxes. Among all their other endeavors, they've somehow managed to squeeze out Insomniatic, an album that is being reconfigured for seemingly every major retailer (iTunes, Best Buy, Wal-Mart and others all feature slightly modified track lists).
The sisters are hoping to beat out another female posse for the tween vote: the Cheetah Girls, who were created by Walt Disney after the wild success of the film of the same name. The trio's The Cheetah Girls in Concert: The Party's Just Begun Tour CD (with an accompanying DVD) captures them performing songs from the soundtracks to the first two films. Remind you just a little of "High School Musical"?
Middleweights: Mike Jones vs. Crowded House
For two artists who have probably never been mentioned before in the same breath, Mike Jones and Crowded House have at least one thing in common: It's taken fo'eva for them to churn out new material. Way back in December 2005, the Texas spitter told us he was 85 percent done with his second album, The American Dream — and if it's taken a year and half to cobble together the last 15 percent, we should hope it's some of the tightest rap music ever recorded. It could be, though, that he wanted to polish off another project: his movie, also called "The American Dream," also drops this week.
Crowded House have taken even longer to put out a new album, but you can't really blame them — the group broke up in November 1996 before reconvening in January of this year. Time on Earth, the act's first new studio effort in 14 years, features original members Neil Finn and Nick Seymour, plus written and performance contributions from Johnny Marr (Modest Mouse, the Smiths) and none other than the Dixie Chicks.
Welterweights: Against Me! vs. Bad Religion
Punk padres face off against punk princes this week too: Against Me! — one of the hottest punk bands out there right now, along with Tiger Army — are flooding the record racks with their New Wave, which is loaded with such revealing protest-song titles as "White People for Peace" and "Americans Abroad." The album was produced by Butch Vig, who famously sat behind the boards for Nirvana's Nevermind.
While you have the early '90s on the brain, you might recall that Bad Religion were really coming into their own around that time. New Maps of Hell, the band's third release since guitarist Brett Gurewitz returned to the fold and 14th studio album overall, couldn't dovetail more perfectly with New Wave — songs include "The Grand Delusion," "Requiem for Dissent" and "Submission Complete."
Middleweights: Spoon vs. Foo Fighters
Do you like your Foo Spoon-fed? While you're chewing on that one, you might want to say, "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" — that's the goofy title of indie-rock immortals Spoon's new album. Better jump on it quick, as the first pressing comes with the limited-edition bonus EP Get Nice!, which actually contains more tracks (12), oddly enough, than the LP itself (10). Don't miss "My Little Japanese Cigarette Case," "Black Like Me" and "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb."
Foo Fighters are also feeling generous — they've dumped six more songs onto the revisited version of their classic The Colour and the Shape for the LP's 10th anniversary. The extras include covers of Killing Joke, Gary Numan and Gerry Rafferty songs, as well as the album's title track, which actually came out as a B-side.
Lightweights: Darkest Hour vs. Nile
These metal bands are hardly wimps, but as far as the Billboard chart goes, they'll have some work ahead of them this week. On their fifth LP, Deliver Us, Sounds of the Underground participants Darkest Hour portend a "Full Imperial Collapse," "Fire in the Sky" and "Doomsayer (The Beginning of the End)," with FYE shoppers getting an extra dose of maniacal metalcore as a bonus: the track "Closing on the Day."
Nile are on this summer's opposing metal tour — Ozzfest — and, while also a death-metal band, are a bit more brutal than DH. This week, former label Relapse digs through the crates and pieces together Legacy of the Catacombs, which is littered with 12 of the band's choice cuts, plus a DVD boasting all its videos.
Featherweights: M. Ward vs. Nick Drake
And to cap it off, a quiet contest between soft-spoken singer/songwriters new and old. Ward's first album, Duet + Guitars 2 — originally issued by Co-Dependent Records in 1999, then re-released the year later on Howe Gelb's OWOM label — is back again, this time with three extra slices. Drake's Family Tree set teems with more unreleased material, an hour of material the revered folkster recorded before his Five Leaves Left debut. Featured on the extra content is Drake performing with his mother and sister, early versions of some Five Leaves Left tracks and between-song chatter and laughter.
Song Title of the Week:
"... And Justice for All My Loving" from Beatallica's Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band
Album Cover of the Week:
Gogol Bordello's Super Taranta!
Jamming with Madonna during her performance at Live Earth London was a great PR move for these New York underground gypsy punks — but are Madge fans really going to dig them? Probably not. In case you're not already familiar with Gogol, the meaning behind their nonsense album title should avail you of their insanity: "Taranta!" is a nod to "tarantella," a form of extreme traditional Italian music made to cure hysterical women. In a recent press statement, frontman Eugene Hutz elucidated: "Gogol Bordello is known for talking about sex, politics, life and the mysteries surrounding our existence, all while showing our original and strong visions of the New Rebel Intelligence — the ability of an individual to interpret actions and objects personally despite authoritarian and informational hysteria." Do you really need to know more?
Roky Erickson's "You're Gonna Miss Me" DVD and soundtrack
This psychedelic rocker's story is an especially sad one, with the documentary chronicling how Erickson went insane but was recently brought back into the music world thanks to his brother, who had to obtain legal custody of him. The DVD is packed with extras, including acoustic performances, "I Know the Hole in Baby's Head" and other readings, a postscript on his emancipation hearing and more. For its part, the soundtrack has two exclusive songs — "For You" and "Goodbye Sweet Dreams" — and a raft of Roky classics.
Jesse Harris's Feel
Unlikely Erickson, this Bright Eyes and Norah Jones collaborator is much less likely to be found in a room playing five TVs at the same time. He recorded his seventh album in just three days, but managed to spill a lifetime's worth of emotion into the disc. "How Could It Take So Long" depicts a displaced New Orleans resident at the Louisiana Superdome in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, while elsewhere on the album Harris gets deep about love and relationships. He integrates Caribbean sounds into "Fire on the Ocean" and, elsewhere on the disc, jazz beats to boot.
· Against Me! - New Wave (Sire)
· Aly & AJ - Insomniatic (enhanced; Hollywood)
· American Black Lung - Sudden Departure of Vultures (Uprising)
· Bad Religion - New Maps of Hell (Epitaph) [Buy Now]
· Beatallica - Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band (Oglio) [Buy Now]
· Bedlight for Blue Eyes - Life on Life's Terms (Trustkill)
· Boat - Let's Drag Our Feet! (Magic Marker) [Buy Now]
· Ayla Brown - Forward (Double Deal Brand)
· B-Side Players - Fire in the Youth (Concord)
· Buffalo Tom - Three Easy Pieces (New West)
· The Cheetah Girls - The Cheetah Girls in Concert: The Party's Just Begun Tour (with DVD; Disney)
· Crowded House - Time on Earth (ATO)
· Darkest Hour - Deliver Us (Victory)
· Down to Earth Approach - Come Back to You (Vagrant)
· Droid - Droid (Chime) [Buy Now]
· Fairmont - Wait & Hope (GFB)
· Gallows - Orchestra of Wolves (Epitaph)
· Gogol Bordello - Super Taranta! (Side One Dummy)
· The Gourds - Noble Creatures (Yep Roc)
· Great Lakes Myth Society - Compass Rose Bouquet (Quack Media)
· The Hanslick Rebellion - The Rebellion Is Here.(Eschatone)
· Jesse Harris - Feel (Velour)
· Hawaii Mud Bombers - Mondo Primo(Wicked Cool)
· The Icarus Line - Black Lives at the Golden Coast (Dim Mak)
· Interpol - Our Love to Admire (special edition packaged in hard-covered book form due same day; Capitol) [Buy Now]
· Jason Isbell - Sirens of the Ditch (New West)
· Mike Jones - The American Dream (Ice Age)
· Justice - Cross (Vice) [Buy Now]
· Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers - Glassjaw Boxer (Everfine)
· Kool & the Gang - Still Kool (two CDs; New Door/UMe)
· Joachim Kühn and Majid Bekkas - Kalimba (Act Music & Vision)
· Justin Lanning - Behind These Eyes (SMC)
· The Leftovers - On the Move (Rally)
· Lez Zeppelin - Lez Zeppelin (Emanation) [Buy Now]
· Mayday Parade - A Lesson in Romantics (Fearless)
· Mustangs and Madras - Le Lechuza (digipak; Latest Flame)
· Oh No! Oh My! - Between the Devil and the Sea (EP; Dim Mak)
· Ra Ra Riot - Ra Ra Riot (Rebel Group)
· Reel Big Fish - Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free (Rock Ridge) [Buy Now]
· Fionn Regan - The End of History (Lost Highway)
· Kim Richey - Chinese Boxes (Vanguard)
· Chris & Rich Robinson - Brothers of a Feather: Live at the Roxy (Eagle)
· Mark Ronson - Version (Allido/RCA)
· Round Mountain - Truth and Darkness (Fast Horse)
· Ulrich Schnauss - Goodbye (Domino)
· Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist (Reprise) [Buy Now]
· Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (limited edition comes with bonus CD; Merge)
· St. Vincent - Marry Me (Beggars Banquet)
· Stratospheerius - Headspace (D-Zone)
· Suphala - Blueprint (Suphala)
· John P. Strohm - Everyday Life (Superphonic)
· They Might Be Giants - The Else (Idlewild/Zöe)
· To My Boy - Messages (digipak; Abeano Music/ XL) [Buy Now]
· Trashlight Vision - Alibis and Ammunition (Rock Ridge)
· The Unseen - Internal Salvation (digipak; Hellcat)
· Bill Wence - Songs From the Rocky Fork Tavern (615)
· Alexa Wilkinson - Lullaby Appetite (DNK)
· Jamie Williams - After Hours (Jamie Williams Music)
· Roddy Woomble - My Secret Is My Silence (7-10)
· Various artists - Healing the Divide: A Concert for Peace and Reconciliation (Anti-)
· Various artists - "Hairspray" soundtrack (New Line)
· Various artists - "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" soundtrack (Warner Bros.)
Notable Reissues and Archival Material:
· Terry Allen - Americana Master Series: Best of the Sugar Hill Years (Sugar Hill)
· Bee Gees - "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack (Rhino)
· Botch - American Nervoso (Hydra Head)
· Nick Drake - Family Tree (Tsunami)
· Roky Erickson - "You're Gonna Miss Me" soundtrack (Palm Pictures)
· Donald Fagen - The Nightfly Trilogy (three-CD box set; Rhino)
· Foo Fighters - The Colour and the Shape (RCA) [Buy Now]
· The for Carnation - Promised Works (Touch and Go)
· Kinky Friedman - Live From Austin TX (New West)
· Tracy Lawrence - The Very Best of Tracy Lawrence (Rhino)
· Doyle Lawson - Americana Master Series: Best of the Sugar Hill Years (Sugar Hill)
· Nguyên Lê - Purple: Celebrating Jimi Hendrix (ACT)
· Lonesome River Band - Americana Master Series: Best of the Sugar Hill Years (Sugar Hill)
· The Monkees - Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.; (two-CD deluxe editions; Rhino)
· Nashville Bluegrass Band - Americana Master Series: Best of the Sugar Hill Years (Sugar Hill)
· Nile - Legacy of the Catacombs (Relapse)
· No Use for a Name - All the Best Songs (Fat Wreck Chords) [Buy Now]
· John Phillips - Jack of Diamonds (Varése Sarabande)
· Reckless Kelly - Americana Master Series: Best of the Sugar Hill Years (Sugar Hill)
· Peter Rowan - Americana Master Series: Best of the Sugar Hill Years (Sugar Hill)
· Stephen Stills - Just Roll Tape: April 26, 1968 (Rhino)
· The Vacancies - Tantrum (Blackheart) [Buy Now]
· M. Ward - Duet + Guitars 2 (Merge)
· Various artists - Body + Soul: Funky Love (Time Life)
· Various artists - Uptown Soul, Downtown Funk (Sunswept)
· The Beatles - "Beatles' Biggest Secrets" (Image) [Buy Now]
· Armin van Buuren - "Armin Only: Ahoy 2007" (two DVDs; Ultra)
· The Chieftans - "Live Over Ireland - Water From the Well" (Image)
· The Dresden Dolls - "Live at the Roundhouse, London" (Eagle Vision)
· Roky Erickson - "You're Gonna Miss Me: A Film About Roky Erickson" (Palm Pictures)
· Kinky Friedman - "Live From Austin TX" (New West)
· Engelbert Humperdink - "Greatest Performances 1967-1977" (Universal)
· Marillion - "Live From Loreley" (EMI)
· Supersuckers - "Live in Orange Co." (2B1)
· Dead Betties - Nightmare Sequence (hits brick-and-mortar stores on September 4; Cordless)
· K Banger - Truth Be Told (Shaman Work)
· Monster in the Machine - Butterfly Pinned (hits brick-and-mortar stores on August 21; Emotional Syphon)
· Page France - Page France and the Bonus Telephone EP (iTunes only)
· The Scene Aesthetic - Building Homes From What We've Known (Destiny Worldwide)
· Various artists - Simple Life Camp Songs (available through E! Online and iTunes; Nettwerk)
· All-American Rejects - "Tournado" DVD (Interscope)
· Avenged Sevenfold - "All Excess" DVD (Warner Bros.) [Preorder]
· Too Short - I Love the Bay (Up All Nite)
· Yellowcard - Paper Walls (deluxe edition with DVD due same day; Capitol) [Preorder]
· Various artists - Now That's What I Call Music! 25 (UTV)
· Prince - Planet Earth (Columbia) [Preorder]
· Sum 41 - Underclass Hero (Island) [Preorder]
· Tegan and Sara - Con (deluxe edition with DVD due same day; Vapor/Sanctuary)
· Common - Finding Forever (Universal) [Preorder]
· DevilDriver - The Last Kind Words (Roadrunner)
· Korn - Untitled (deluxe edition with bonus DVD due same day; Epic) [Preorder]