Talk about a summer drought — even though it's only halfway through the season, there are hardly any heavy hitters left on the horizon until the fated September 11, when Kanye West and 50 Cent square off for their epic back-to-school battle. But between now and then, expect ripples to be made by the "High School Musical 2" soundtrack, Yung Joc and his Hustlenomics, and that's about it — save one big release this week, that is ...
Fit to Be Kingz?: Bun B and Pimp C formed UGK in Texas 20 years ago, if you can believe it, and while age usually isn't kind to hip-hop vets, the duo could make the biggest debut of their career on the strength of their huge summer single, "Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)" (featuring Outkast). Only two of the group's seven studio albums have opened in the top 20 on the Billboard albums chart, but with T.I., Lil Jon, Three 6 Mafia, Young Jeezy and Rick Ross scattered across the two-CD Underground Kingz, the chart-topping glory could be theirs.
Soul Food: Public Enemy have a year or two on UGK, and their first album came out much earlier — if you're keeping score at home, that would be Yo! Bum Rush the Show, which dropped in March 1987. It probably isn't a good sign of sales to come that Chuck D recently gave away vouchers for free copies of the group's new album, How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul?, in New York. Equally foreboding is that the group's last effort, 1999's There's a Poison Goin' On, didn't even make it onto the Billboard albums chart. But PE do get a boost from Bomb Squad's Gary G-Wiz, who reunited with the crew to produce the LP; and KRS-One, who helps grease "Sex, Drugs and Violence." Don't miss "Frankenstar," "Head Wide Shut" and "Black Is Back," too.
The New Testament: Coming from the other end of the age spectrum is Fort Myers, Florida, rapper Plies, who is stepping out with his first major-label effort, The Real Testament. The LP features another summer banger, "Shawty" (featuring T-Pain), as well as contributions from Akon, Tank and producer J.R. Rotem, but give Plies credit for being creative: "Ain't Slippin' " features a bonus verse from a fan who won a lyrics contest the rapper held earlier in the year.
He's No Keanu: Speaking of music contests, "American Idol" fans no doubt recall fourth-season finalist Constantine Maroulis, who is finally delivering his long-in-the-works solo disc, Constantine. Issued through his own Sixth Place Productions banner, the set features a songwriting assist from Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas and also includes "Everybody Loves," a track soap-opera aficionados might recall from "The Bold and the Beautiful."
They're Frontin': Lots of activity on the frontmen front this week. Drowning Pool usher in a new singer, Ryan McCombs, on their new album Full Circle. The first 500 fans who preordered the disc through the band's Web site received autographed copies of the disc, which boasts "Reasons I'm Alive," "Upside Down" and "37 Stitches." Hard-rock kindred spirits Fuel have a new singer of their own: Toryn Green, who is introduced on the band's Angels & Devils.
Hot Water Music frontman Chuck Ragan is stepping out with his first solo album, Feast or Famine, which guests Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba, Jolie Holland and James Fearnley (the Pogues). And former Azure Ray co-frontwoman Orenda Fink is putting her energy these days into Art in Manila, whose Set the Woods on Fire debut comes courtesy of tastemaking indie label Saddle Creek. But it's psych-pop four-piece 54 Seconds who have probably the most unique frontman of the bunch: Bee Gee Robin Gibb's son Spencer. The band's Postcards From California features "Pocket Full of Numbers," "My Crazy Life" and "Dirty Little Secret."
Comp Troller: If you're into the whole various-artists thing, this is the week for you. For the soundtrack to the new Ethan Hawke movie "The Hottest State," Feist, Bright Eyes, Cat Power, M. Ward and others chalked up newly recorded versions of songs written by Grammy winner Jesse Harris, who co-produced the disc. The musical accompaniment to "The Trials of Darryl Hunt" is also packed with coffeehouse-worthy tracks, including unreleased cuts from Andrew Bird, Mark Kozelek, Portastatic and Califone. It reps the rap set too, with new songs from Dead Prez, Ras Kass and the Last Poets (featuring Dälek). Last but not least is Little Steven's Underground Garage Presents: The Coolest Songs in the World! Vol. 2, a new comp drummed up by Steven Van Zandt of E Street Band and "Sopranos" note. The set runs the garage-rock gamut from Joey Ramone and Buzzcocks to the Donnas and the Raveonettes.
Song Title of the Week:
"Let's Undress and Listen to CSS" from All Teeth and Knuckles' Club Hits to Hit the Club With
Album Cover of the Week:
Magnolia Electric Co.'s The Sojourner Boxset:
Why record one album when you can record three? That's apparently the Magnolia Electric Co.'s MO these days — the Secretly Canadian group's ridiculously ambitious new release encompasses three full-lengths, one EP and one DVD created by more than a dozen people. The LPs are Nashville Moon, which features the Jason Molina-led Ohio collective's most consistent lineup and was recorded with Steve Albini; Black Ram, featuring a much different lineup and recorded by Cracker's David Lowery; and Sun Sessions, tracked at Memphis' legendary Sun Studios. The EP, Shohola, is just Molina with a guitar and microphone; and the DVD, "The Road Becomes What You Leave," trails the band through Canada and "shows the loneliness and isolation one can feel even when traveling in a pack," according to a press release.
Okkervil River's The Stage Names:
The Texas band is on Secretly Canadian's sister label Jagjaguwar and faces high expectations with its fourth album, which succeeds 2005's critically beloved Black Sheep Boy. Frontman Will Sheff wrote the nine tracks — including "A Hand to Take Hold of the Scene" and "You Can't Hold the Hand of a Rock and Roll Man" — while traveling across the States, and to ensure that fans are along for the ride, the deluxe edition has a second disc brimming with solo demo versions of each song.
Two Dollar Pistols' Here Tomorrow Gone Today:
Hitting the digital sphere this week is the latest by the country/R&B/rockabilly crossover crew, which was aptly produced by Southern Culture on the Skids main man Rick Miller. On its first album in three years, the group coaxes SCOTS bassist Mary Huff for "Stranger Things Have Happened," while members of Tres Chicas lend support on "Anyone Else but Me." And for good measure, the group busts out a Farfisa organ for the less-than-amicable "I Don't Know You (But I Don't Like You)."
· 54 Seconds - Postcards From California (Rock Ridge)
· All Teeth and Knuckles - Club Hits to Hit the Club With (Lujo)
· Art in Manila - Set the Woods on Fire (Saddle Creek)
· Sam Baker - Pretty World (BlueLimeStone)
· Benzos - Branches (Stinky)
· Dave Brubeck - Indian Summer (Telarc)
· Brunettes - Structure & Cosmetics (Sub Pop)
· Buck-O-Nine - Sustain (Asian Man)
· Peter Case - Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John (Yep Roc)
· Copperpot - WYLA? (EV Productions)
· Kat DeLuna - 9 Lives (Sony) [Buy Now]
· DeSol - On My Way (Adrenaline)
· Christopher Denny - Age Old Hunger (Megaforce)
· Drifting in Silence - Fallto (Labile)
· Drowning Pool - Full Circle (Eleven Seven)
· Falu - Falu (Monsoon)
· The Fire the Flood - Truth Seekers (No Sleep)
· Robben Ford - Truth (Concord)
· Donovon Frankenreiter - Recycled Recipes (EP; only available at indie retailers and online; Lost Highway)
· Fuel - Angels & Devils (Epic) [Buy Now]
· Ezra Furman & the Harpoons - Banging Down the Doors (Minty Fresh)
· Gwendolyn - Lower Mill Road (available through CD Baby; Whispersquish)
· Bruce Hornsby, Jack DeJohnette, Christian McBride - Camp Meeting (Legacy)
· Johnny Irion - Ex Tempore (Rte 8/RCAM)
· Jonas Brothers - Jonas Brothers (enhanced; Hollywood) [Buy Now]
· June - Make It Blur (Victory)
· Magnolia Electric Co. - The Sojourner Boxset (box set with three CDs, one CD EP and one DVD; Secretly Canadian)
· Constantine Maroulis - Constantine (6th Place)
Read: " 'American Idol' Vets Bo Bice, Constantine Maroulis Can't Stop Rockin' "
· Mirah and Spectratone International - Share This Place: Stories and Observations · Marissa Nadler - Song 3: Bird on the Water (Kemado)
· National Product - Luna (Innovative Distribution Network)
· Nedelle - The Locksmith Cometh (available at indie stores only; Tangram 7s)
· Oh No Oh My! - Between the Devil and the Sea (EP; Dim Mak)
· Okkervil River - The Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)
· People - Misbegotten Man (enhanced; I and Ear)
· Plies - The Real Testament (Atlantic) [Buy Now]
Read: "Akon Might Have Made Plies' Song Into A Hit — Without Him — But There's No Beef"
· Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - This Is Somewhere (Hollywood)
· The Pretty Things - Balboa Island (Zoho)
· Public Enemy - How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul? (with DVD; Slam Jamz) [Buy Now]
· Chuck Ragan - Feast or Famine (Side One Dummy)
· The Receiving End of Sirens - The Earth Sings Mi Fa Mi (Triple Crown)
· Inga Rumpf & Friends - Rockpalast (MVD Audio)
· Luther Russell - Repair (Adrenaline)
· Schooner - Hold on Too Tigh (54-40 or Fight)
· Secret Stealth - Hooked on You (Kosmic)
· Simple Kid - 2 (Yep Roc)
· Spokane - Little Hours (Jagjaguwar)
· Slighty Stoopid - Chronchitis (Megaforce)
· Still Remains - The Serpent (Roadrunner)
· The Stabilisers - Wanna Do the Wild Plastic Brane Love Thing? (Wicked Cool)
· Tarentel - Ghetto Beats on the Surface of the Sun (two CDs; Temporary Residence)
· Testa Rosa - Testa Rosa (Latest Flame)
· Throwdown - Venom and Tears (Trustkill)
· Tiger Stripes - Safari (MVD Audio)
· Castor Troy - Patience Above (EP; Rock Ridge)
· UGK - Underground Kingz (two CDs; Jive) [Buy Now]
Read: "Ex-Con Pimp C Juiced For UGK Album, Says He Has Lessons To Teach"
· Underminded - Eleven: Eleven (Uprising)
· The Warriors - Genuine Sense of Outrage (Victory)
· Yakuza - Transmissions (Prosthetic)
· Zap Mama - Supermoon (Heads Up)
· ZO2 - Ain't It Beautiful (Riker Hill)
· Various artists - Land of a Thousand Rappers (Asthmatic Kitty)
· Various artists - True Colors: The Tour CD (Tommy Boy)
· Various artists - "The Hottest State" soundtrack (Hickory)
· Various artists - "Superbad" soundtrack (Lakeshore)
· Various artists - "The Trials of Darryl Hunt" soundtrack (Young American)
Notable Reissues and Archival Material:
· Andy and the Bey Sisters - 'Round Midnight (Prestige)
· Chet Atkins - The Early Years: 1946-1957 (five-CD box set; JSP)
· Drake Bell - Telegraph (Backhouse)
· Bitter: Sweet - The Remix Game (Quango)
· James Brown - The Singles, Volume Three: 1964-1965 (two CDs; Hip-O Select)
· John Coltrane - Stardust (Prestige)
· Miles Davis Quintet - Steamin' With the Miles Davis Quintet (Prestige)
· Diamond Rio - 16 Biggest Hits (Arista)
· The Dickies - Second Coming (Captain Oi!)
· Bo Diddley - You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover (Music Avenue)
· Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends - Ladies and Gentlemen (two CDs; Shout! Factory)
· Art Farmer - Farmer's Market (Prestige)
· Red Garland - Soul Junction (Prestige)
· Billie Holiday - Remixed & Reimagined (RCA/Legacy)
· Alan Jackson - 16 Biggest Hits (Arista/Legacy)
· Mississippi Fred McDowell - An Introduction to Mississippi Fred McDowell (Fuel)
· Ju Suk Reet Meate - Solo 78/79 (De Stijl)
· Magic Sam - An Introduction to Magic Sam (Fuel)
· Gretchen Peters - Burnt Toast & Offerings (Thirty Tigers)
· Rivingtons - Papa Oom Mow Mow: Rockin' R&B and Boss Ballads (Shout! Factory)
· Diana Ross - Last Time I Saw Him - Deluxe Edition (two CDs; Hip-O-Select)
· Joe Satriani - Surfing With the Alien: Legacy Edition (with DVD; Epic/Legacy)
· Third Day - Chronology, Volume Two: 2001-2006 (two CDs; Essential)
· Jennifer Warnes - Famous Blue Raincoat: The Songs of Leonard Cohen - 20th Anniversary Edition (Shout! Factory)
· Various artists - The Best of Newport '57 - 50th Anniversary (Verve)
· Various artists - Classic Bluegrass Collection, Vol. 1-4 (eight-CD box set; Time Life)
· Various artists - Classic Soul Ballads (10-CD box set; Time Life)
· Various artists - Lifetime of Country Romance and Lifetime of Romance (10-CD box sets; Time Life)
· Various artists - Little Steven's Underground Garage Presents: The Coolest Songs in the World! Vol. 2 (Wicked Cool)
· Various artists - The Soul Story (10-CD box set; Time Life)
· Various artists - Superstars of Country (10-CD box set; Time Life)
· GG Allin & the Murder Junkies - "Hated" (MVD Visual)
· David Bowie - "The Plastic Soul Review" (Sexy Intellectual)
· Solomon Burke - "The King Live at AVO Session Basel" (MVD Visual)
· Larry Coryell, Al Di Meola and Bereli Lagrene - "Live At Montreux 1989" (Eagle Eye)
· Deftones - "The Complete Story" (Video Music)
· The Delfonics - "Live in Concert" (Soul Concerts)
· Fleetwood Mac - "Videobiography" (Classic Rock Legends)
· George Jones - "Greatest Hits: Live Recordings From the Church Street Station" (MVD Visual)
· Led Zeppelin - "Videography" (two DVDs; Classic Rock Legends)
· Harold Melvin - "Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes: Live in Concert" (Soul Concerts)
· Melba Moore - "Melba Moore: Live in Concert" (Soul Concerts)
· Musical Youth - "This Generation: Musical Youth Live in the U.K." (MVD Visual)
· The Platters - "The Platters With Special Guests the Crickets & Lenny Welch" (MVD Visual)
· Elvis Presley - "Memories of the King" (Classic Rock Legends)
· Inga Rumpf & Friends - "Rockpalast" (MVD Visual)
· Edwin Starr - "Live in Concert" (Soul Concerts)
· Barbra Streisand - "Inside the Actors Studio" (Universal)
· Uriah Heep - "Transmissions" (with CD and book; Classic Rock Legends)
· The White Stripes - "The Document" (with CD; Video Music)
· Various artists - "A Night at the Family Dog" (Eagle Vision)
· Various artists - "Blues, Rags & Hollers: The Koerner, Ray & Glover Story" (MVD Visual)
· Various artists - "Vintage Reggae Bash" (MVD Visual)
· Sportsguitar - Cicadas' Chirping; Fade/Cliché; Happy Already; Married, 3 Kids; and Surface (reissues; Kitty-Yo)
· Two Dollar Pistols - Here Tomorrow Gone Today (8th House)
· Blaqk Audio - Cexcells (Interscope) [Preorder]
Read: "AFI Members Have Another Fire Inside: Side Project Blaqk Audio"
· Wayne Wonder - Foreva (VP)
· Various artists - "High School Musical 2" soundtrack (Disney)
Read: " 'High School Musical' Stars Dish On Sequel's Showstoppers, Love Triangles"
· As I Lay Dying - An Ocean Between Us (Metal Blade)
· Cartel - Cartel (Epic) [Preorder]
Read: "Pop-Punks Cartel Show Off Grandma's Digs, Borrow Benz For 'Cribs' "
· Talib Kweli - Ear Drum (Reprise) [Preorder]
Read: "Stung By Criticism Of Last LP, Talib Kweli Promises No Sting Samples This Time"
· New Pornographers - Challengers (Matador)
· Swizz Beatz - One Man Band Man (enhanced; Motown) [Preorder]
Read: "Beyonce Hitmaker Swizz Beatz Defies Radio Rules With Two-Minute Single"
· Aesop Rock - None Shall Pass (Def Jux)
· Ice Water - Raekwon Presents: Ice Water - Polluted Water (Babygrande)
· Yung Joc - Hustlenomics (Bad Boy) [Preorder]