Twelve years ago, Louis Farrakhan's Million Man March descended on Washington D.C., in an effort to promote activism, volunteerism and voting among black men. This week, on a completely unrelated subject, many fewer new albums are hitting stores — perhaps in anticipation of October 23, which is shaping up to be an especially prolific Tuesday for new releases.
But just because there aren't a million new albums coming out, that hardly means we haven't found any to talk about this week. In fact, this week's lot of contenders, disparate as they might be, actually tie in quite nicely with each other.
Let's start with Jimmy Eat World, who are banking on their new single, "Big Casino," to mean big things for their new album, Chase This Light — the alt-rock vets went so far as to craft their album-release party as a faux casino night on Monday in Los Angeles. The band's last LP, 2004's Futures, went gold, as a matter of fact, so that could be a good sign of what's to come. Fans might want to pick up the iTunes version of the new disc, as it comes with two bonus tracks, although Insound and Smartpunk are offering a third tune as an extra.
While JEW are appearing at select outlets, two big-name artists are getting even more exclusive by putting out their new releases in just one store each. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' hefty "Runnin' Down a Dream" box set — loaded with three DVDs and a CD — is coming out via Best Buy only. It features Peter Bogdanovich's documentary, a soundtrack CD to the flick, a 30th anniversary concert, interviews with Eddie Vedder and Johnny Depp, and more.
KT Tunstall's new set isn't nearly as big as Petty's, but it's just as exclusive — you'll only find NBC Sounds of the Season: The KT Tunstall Holiday Collection at Target. The short CD, which costs $6.99, features six yuletide jingles: "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," "Sleigh Ride," "Mele Halihimaha (Christmas in Hawaii)," "Fairytale of New York," "2000 Miles" and "Lonely This Christmas." Elliott Yamin and Taylor Swift, who are also part of the NBC series this year, are getting similar releases this week.
The flood of Christmas releases continues with what might be the biggest release in the genre this year: Disney Channel Holiday. The disc features various artists — some girl named Miley; "High School Musical" pint-size powerhouses Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman; red-hot squads the Cheetah Girls and Jonas Brothers; Aly & AJ and more. The only artist who might have bigger holiday-release hopes is Toby Keith, although fans are going to have to throw down a few extra bucks for his two-CD A Classic Christmas. The country megastar's first holiday release in 12 years is divvied into contemporary and spiritual standards. Last but not least, Jars of Clay have finally molded their first Christmas album ever, if you can believe it. "O Little Town of Bethlehem," "Wonderful Christmastime" and "Hibernation Day" are among their Christmas Songs.
Speaking of surprising career firsts, R.E.M. have finally roused themselves to make a concert CD for the first time in their 27 years. The simply titled Live immortalizes their concert at the Point Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, on February 27, 2005, in all its glory — the package has two CDs and one DVD, although the price tag is still likely to be relatively low compared to similar releases. Don't miss rare performances of "I Took Your Name" from 1994's Monster and "Ascent of Man" from 2004's Around the Sun, as well as the previously unissued "I'm Gonna DJ."
While R.E.M. mix the old in with the new on their concert package, Carlos Santana also made sure to keep his Ultimate Santana collection fresh. The collaboration-addicted guitar icon slaps three new ones onto the disc: Jennifer Lopez and Baby Bash join him on "This Baby's Fire," while Nickelback's Chad Kroeger croons on "Into the Night" and Tina Turner tags along for a reworking of "The Game of Love." ...
For her part, Angie Stone jammed with soul legends Betty Wright and James Ingram for two tracks — "Baby" and "My People," respectively — on her new LP, The Art of Love & War. Those partnerships are fitting, given that the album is dropping on the recently reactivated seminal soul label Stax. Stone wrote and co-produced most of the effort, which she actually recorded at Marvin Gaye's old Marvin's Room studio on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. In other soul news, Quannum has dug up the never-before-released first album by Chicago's Pieces of Peace, who disbanded in the late '70s. The group's self-titled album showcases its unique spiritual jazz-funk sound.
Ethiopian-born American newcomer Kenna dabbles in soul a little on his second outing, Make Sure They See My Face, which has been delayed numerous times. The 29-year-old artist — who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro after putting out his first album, New Sacred Cow, in 2003 — worked with the Neptunes on Face, which comes with a free ringtone and mobile-phone wallpaper. Tracks include "Daylight," "Phantom Always" and the first single, "Out of Control (State of Emotion)," which Mark Ronson debuted on his online East Village Radio show, "Authentic Sh--."
While Ronson's preview might have stirred things up for Kenna online, Thrice went whole hog by streaming their entire new album, The Alchemy Index: Vols. I & II: Fire & Water, on their MySpace page prior to the album's release. The conceptual project — overly conceptual, some say — revolves around the band separating its sound into distinct elements (or "elements," like fire, water, etc. — get it?). Still, the band also introduced new electronic sounds into its blend, especially with "Water," the second element (each of the four elements is supposed to act as an "EP," but they're being compiled as two CDs). In case that isn't elaborate enough, singer Dustin Kensrue went so far as to compose an original sonnet — organized in the traditional English structure and rhythmic fashion — for each element. Someone let us know when there's a CliffsNotes version available.
Song Title of the Week:
"Man With the Shovel, Is the Man I'm Going to Marry" from To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie's The Patron
Album Cover of the Week:
Maritime's Heresy and the Hotel Chair
The Milwaukee band, which formed from the remnants of post-rock heroes the Promise Ring and Dismemberment Plan, has put out a pair of albums since they were born in 2003. But drummer Dan Didier said in a recent statement that the group's new one is "the first time it actually feels like we are a band. Before, members came and went and it never seemed to be a cohesive unit, but, for this record the four of us all started at square one together so the songs reflect all four of us." The album features "Guns of Navarone" — named after the same-titled 1961 movie — "With Holes for Thumb Sized Birds" and "Aren't We All Found Out."
Jessica Vale's Brand New Disease
Want to get inspired? Why not take a trip to the Balkan Peninsula? The alt-rock singer/songwriter focuses on her journey abroad on a new ballad, "Night in Sarajevo," but she also draws on her local New York environs heavily throughout her second disc. "The base sound level in New York is significantly higher than anywhere else in the world, 90 decibels to be exact, so it takes much more intense music to feel like one of making a statement," she said in an, uh, statement.
Various artists' Eyeball Awareness Vol. 1
Underground acts are coming together for a good cause this week, with the Number 12 Looks Like You, Baumer, New Atlantic and others pitching in for the first volume in a four-part series. The Eyeball campaign, which is being unveiled at the CMJ Music Marathon, is being staged to support "To Write Love on Her Arms," a nonprofit movement dedicated to finding hope and help young people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.
· 9th Wonder - Wonder Years (Asylum)
· Admiral Twin - The Center of the Universe (Pop Collective)
· Cecilia Bartoli - Maria (deluxe-hardcover edition due same day; Decca)
· The Blakes - The Blakes (Light in the Attic)
· The Busy Signals - The Busy Signals (Dirtnap)
· Canadians - A Sky With No Stars (Ghost)
· The Capstan Shafts - Environ Maiden (Rainbow Quartz)
· Champion Kickboxer - Perforations (54-40 or Fight!)
· Stanley Clarke - The Toys of Men (Heads Up)
· Ryan Cohan - One Sky (Motema)
· Ben Forrest Davis - Roughs (Bird Song)
· Dooley-O - The Basement Tapes (Sound of Dissent)
· Fatal Flying Guillotines - Quantum F---ing (French Kiss)
· Ghastly City Sleep - Ghastly City Sleep (Robotic Empire)
· Gov't Mule - Mighty High (ATO)
· The Izzys - The Violent Bear It Away (Fat Man)
· Jars of Clay - Christmas Songs (Gray Matters)
· Jimmy Eat World - Chase This Light (Interscope) [Buy Now]
· Jeru the Damaga - Still Rising (Ashenafi)
· Toby Keith - A Classic Christmas (two CDs; Show Dog Nashville)
· Kenna - Make Sure They See My Face (Star Trak/ Interscope) [Buy Now]
· Amy London - When I Look in Your Eyes (Motema)
· The Makes Nice - This Time Tomorrow (Frenetic)
· Eric Marienthal - Just Around the Corner (Peak)
· Maritime - Heresy and the Hotel Chair (Flameshovel)
· Moros Eros - Jealous Me Was Killed by Curiosity (Victory)
· Carlos Niño & Gaby Hernandez - La Voz Sabia De Los Cosmos (Alpha Pup)
· The Octopus Project - Hello, Avalanche (Peek-a-Boo)
· PJ Olsson - American Scream (CBS)
· Pieces of Peace - Pieces of Peace (Quannum)
· R.E.M. - Live (two CDs and one DVD; Warner Bros.) [Buy Now]
· Rob-O - Rhyme Pro (Sound of Dissent)
· Nate Schierman - Risk (Dummy Boy)
· Michael W. Smith - It's a Wonderful Christmas (Reunion)
· Snmnmnm - Crawl Inside Your Head (Unschooled)
· Soulsavers - It's Not How Hard You Fall, It's the Way You Land (Red Ink)
· Southeast Engine - A Wheel Within a Wheel (Misra)
· Steel Train - Trampoline (Drive-Thru) [Buy Now]
· Angie Stone - The Art of Love & War (Stax) [Buy Now]
· Taylor Swift - NBC Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection (available exclusively at Target; Capitol)
· Take 6 - Greatest Hits (Rhino)
· Thrice - The Alchemy Index: Vols. I & II: Fire & Water (Vagrant) [Buy Now]
· Tierra - Greatest Love Songs (two CDs; Thump)
· Tiësto - In Search of Sunrise 6: Ibiza (two CDs; Black Hole)
· To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie - The Patron (Kranky)
· KT Tunstall - NBC Sounds of the Season: The KT Tunstall Holiday Collection (available exclusively at Target; Capitol)
· Umphrey's McGee - Live at the Murat (two CDs; Sci Fidelity)
· Underworld - Oblivion With Bells (ATO) [Buy Now]
Read: "Underworld Release New 'Physical' Album Along With Internet Offerings"
· Jessica Vale - Brand New Disease (Explicit)
· Dan Wilson - Free Life (American)
· Elliott Yamin - NBC Sounds of the Season: The Elliott Yamin Holiday Collection (available exclusively at Target; Capitol)
· Various artists - Disney Channel Holiday (Disney)
· Various artists - The Cake Sale (Yep Roc)
Notable Reissues and Archival Material:
· Gerald Albright - The Very Best of Gerald Albright (Rhino)
· Blue October - Foiled for the Last Time (two CDs; enhanced; Universal) [Buy Now]
· Tevin Campbell - The Best of Tevin Campbell (Rhino)
· The Casualties - The Early Years: 1990-1995 (Punkcore) [Buy Now]
· Charlie Cruz - The Best of Charlie Cruz (La Calle)
· Deee-Lite - The Very Best of Deee-Lite (Rhino) [Buy Now]
· Aretha Franklin - Rare & Unreleased Recordings From the Golden Era of the Queen of Soul (two CDs; Rhino)
· The Fray - Reason EP (Epic) [Buy Now]
· The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Live at Monterey (Experience Hendrix)
· Hinder - Extreme Behavior (with DVD; Republic) [Buy Now]
· Miki Howard - The Very Best of Miki Howard (Rhino)
· Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette - Live at Montreux (two CDs; ECM)
· Stacy Lattisaw - The Very Best of Stacy Lattisaw (Rhino)
· Bob Marley and the Wailers - Another Dance: Rarities From Studio 1 (Heartbeat)
· Mass Production - Firecrackers: The Best of Mass Production (Rhino)
· John Mayall - Live From Austin TX (New West)
· Meriwether - Make Your Move (Geffen)
· Midnight String Quartet - Rhapsodies for Young Lovers (Varèse Sarabande)
· Pylon - Gyrate (DFA)
· Patrice Rushen - Haven't You Heard: The Best of Patrice Rushen (Rhino)
· Santana - Ultimate Santana (Arista) [Buy Now]
· Luther Vandross - Love, Luther (four-CD box set; Epic) [Buy Now]
· Grover Washington Jr. - Anthology of Grover Washington Jr. (Rhino)
· Zapp & Roger - All the Greatest Hits (Rhino)
· Various artists - City of Dreams: A Collection of New Orleans Music (Rounder)
· Various artists - Creation Rebel: Trojan Re-Mixed, Re-Visioned, Re-Versioned (Trojan)
· Various artists - Home for Christmas: Voices From the Heartland (Rounder)
· Various artists - Summer Records Anthology 1974-1988 (Light in the Attic)
· AC/DC - "Plug Me In" (two-DVD box set; limited-edition version with three DVDs also available; Epic)
· Foreigner - "Alive & Rockin' " (Eagle Vision)
· The Jimi Hendrix Experience - "Live at Monterey" (Experience Hendrix)
· John Mayall - "Live From Austin TX" (New West)
· Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - "Runnin' Down a Dream" (box set with three DVDs and one CD; exclusively at Best Buy)
· Dar Williams - "Live at Bearsville Theater" (Razor & Tie)
· Rhythm King and Her Friends - The Front of Luxury (Kitty-Yo)
· Various artists - Eyeball Awareness Vol. 1 (Eyeball)
· Seether - Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces (Wind-Up) [Preorder]
Read: "Seether Frontman Won't Respond To Amy Lee's Attack: 'I Just Refuse To Lower Myself To That Level' "
· Serj Tankian - Elect the Dead (Serjical Strike/ Reprise) [Preorder]
Read: "System Of A Down Frontman Serj Tankian On Intimate Solo LP: 'I Believe In It' "
· Carrie Underwood - Carnival Ride (Arista)
· Avenged Sevenfold - Avenged Sevenfold (MVI also available; Warner Bros.) [Preorder]
· Backstreet Boys - Unbreakable (deluxe digipak also available; Jive) [Preorder]
· Mario - Go (J) [Preorder]
Read: "Mario Gets Back To Making Music With Akon, Timbaland, Neptunes"
· Angels & Airwaves - I-Empire (Geffen) [Preorder]
Read: "Angels & Airwaves' Revolution Has Begun — Just Wait 29 Years, Tom DeLonge Insists"
· Chris Brown - Exclusive (deluxe edition comes with DVD; Jive) [Preorder]
Read: "Pharrell, Will.I.Am Joining Chris Brown's Exclusive Club"
· Jay-Z - American Gangster (Roc-A-Fella) [Preorder]
Read: "Jay-Z's American Gangster: A Guided Tour By Jigga, Jermaine Dupri, Pharrell And Others"