Pop group 'N Sync, rapper Ice Cube, rock veteran Patti Smith and hard-rockers Pantera head up this week's crowded slate of new releases.
Also releasing new albums Tuesday are funk-rockers Fishbone and singer/songwriters Joni Mitchell and Cat Power.
(Click here for a select list of this week's releases.)
Ice Cube's new album, War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc), is "a different record than any I have ever done," the rapper said in a statement. More than any other Ice Cube album, it is driven by club-ready dance beats.
It features a wide array of guest stars, including comedian Chris Rock, Puff Daddy, rapper Krayzie Bone and Cube's N.W.A bandmates Dr. Dre and M.C. Ren, who appear on the album's opening track, "Hello."
Patti Smith's new album, Gung Ho, meanwhile, is her most musically sophisticated to date, according to her longtime guitarist, Lenny Kaye.
"In some ways [for this album], I think we looked at the song form, how we could manipulate in terms of the chord progressions. [It was] highly structured and arranged," Kaye said.
Many of the songs on the disc, which was produced by Gil Norton (Pixies, Counting Crows), explore politically oriented themes. "Glitter in Their Eyes" (RealAudio excerpt), for instance, condemns the commercialization of modern life. "Our sacred stage has been defaced/ Replaced to grace the marketplace," Smith sings on the track.
Pantera's new album, Reinventing the Steel, marks the return of the Southern metal band after a four-year absence. The relatively melodic first single from the album, "Revolution Is My Name" (RealAudio excerpt), is getting radio airplay across the country.
The new album's songs came together easily, according to guitarist Dimebag Darrell (born Darrell Lance Abbott). "People say they take hours to write something, or a week to write something," he said. "Well, we get together, we shoot a couple shots of whiskey, we strap on guitars and within 20 minutes we've got something damn near mapped out."
Cult funk-rockers Fishbone, meanwhile, make a bid for mainstream acceptance with their new album, Fishbone & the Familyhood Nextperience Presents: The Psychotic Friends Nuttwerx. "I think that we finally made a record that was in time and not ahead of its time," bassist Norwood Fisher said earlier this month. "I don't mind being ahead of time, but it was time to make a pit stop in the present."
The album's many guest stars include Red Hot Chili Peppers members Flea, John Frusciante and Chad Smith; No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani; and former Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell.
(Senior Writer Chris Nelson contributed to this report.)