Doing Her Own Thing: Ashlee Simpson breaks at least a couple of trends on her second one, I Am Me, in that no bonus enhancements have been announced, and a DualDisc doesn't appear to be on the horizon. And while her hair's gone from black to blond, Ashlee is a shadowy, somber-looking figure centered in front of a pitch-dark background -- a far cry from her spunky image on Autobiography's cover. Tracks include: "Eyes Wide Open," "L.O.V.E." and "Coming Back for More."
Check out [article id="1511052"]"Ashlee Simpson: Everyone Has Moments"[/article] for the singer's I Am Me inspiration.
The Brood Is Back: Depeche Mode appear to have returned to true form after their 2001 misfire, Exciter. A special version of Playing the Angel -- the fuzzy figure on the front is red instead of black -- has a second disc with 5.1 surround-sound mixes, a video for "Precious," photo gallery and more.
Bun's in the Oven: With UGK co-conspirator Pimp C in a legal morass, Bun B steps up with Trill. He finds plenty of buds to keep him company: Lil Jon ("Trill"), Too Short ("Who Need a Bitch"), Scarface and Young Jeezy ("Gun Talk"), T.I. ("I'm a G"), Mannie Fresh ("I'm Fresh") and Jazzy Pha ("I'm Ballin' "). As a pseudo grand finale of sorts, the penultimate track, "Draped Up," features Mike Jones, Lil' Flip, Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Devin the Dude and Z-Ro.
Ten Years' Time: The stars come out to shine on Stevie Wonder's first album in a decade, A Time to Love: Paul McCartney (acoustic and electric guitar on the title song); Prince and En Vogue ("So What the Fuss"); India.Arie ("A Time to Love"); and Kirk Franklin ("Shelter in the Rain"). Bonnie Raitt plays some licks, and Wonder's daughter Aisha Morris duets with him on two songs too.
Twice Thrice: The light orange color of the limited-edition Vheissu -- as opposed to the standard one's olive-green shade -- differentiates the two versions of Thrice's new one, as does a 32-page booklet written by the band that sheds light on the recording process (take that, in-studio video footage!). Tracks include: "Earth Will Shake," "Like Moths to Flame" and "Of Dust and Nations."
You Down With M.O.P.?: The hardcore rap squad returns from its longest hiatus yet (five years) on a new home (Koch) and with a few heavyweight guests. M.O.P. First Family Salutes the St. Marxmen finds Jay-Z un-retired again on "Put It in the Air," ODB undead again on "Pop Shots Remix" (produced by DJ Premier) and Wyclef Jean patrolling on "Hip Hop Cops."
Smooth Sailing: Artists are taking the smooth-remake route this week, starting with Simply Red, who rely on just piano and vocals for oldies ("Holding Back the Years") and newbies ("Perfect Love") on Simplified. Sixties folkster Eric Anderson relives the Greenwich Village era on with Tim Buckley and Phil Ochs covers; for good measure, Judy Collins, Arlo Guthrie and Tom Rush lend him a hand on a concert take of Anderson's own "Thirsty Boots." Still, jazz trumpeter of choice Chris Botti has Anderson beat as far as the guest list goes on his new album of standards, To Love Again: Sting, Steven Tyler, Michael Bublé, Gladys Knight and Jill Scott. Last but not least, the irrepressible Rod Stewart is logging yet another chapter in his smooth-standards series, Thanks for the Memory ... The Great American Songbook Volume IV. Diana Ross sings with him on "I've Got a Crush on You," Chaka Khan chimes in on "My Funny Valentine" and -- wouldn't you know it -- Chris Botti surfaces on "My One and Only Love."
Omnipresent Alkaline: Comp-happy Chicago punks Alkaline Trio are really outdoing themselves this week. They crop up along with Serj Tankian, Avenged Sevenfold and other metalheads on the two-disc soundtrack to Showtime's "Masters of Horror"; they also sidle up alongside My Chemical Romance and Hot Snakes on the "Tony Hawk's American Wasteland" soundtrack. For good measure, frontman Matt Skiba goes solo for a good cause on Protect: A Benefit for the National Association to Protect Children, which also features NOFX, Darkest Hour and Jawbreaker.
Song Titles of the Week: "Bing Bang Bang Bong Kong," "Diabolik Boogie" and "Make Music, But Not Trash" (Messer Chups' Crazy Price)
Eric Andersen - Great American Song Series Vol. 2 (Fat Cat) Animal Collective - Feels (Fat Cat) Beautiful New Born Children - Hey People! (Domino) Black Rob - The Black Rob Report (Bad Boy) Boards of Canada - The Campfire Headphase (Warp) Chris Botti - To Love Again (enhanced; DualDisc also available; Columbia) Bun B - Trill (Rap-a-Lot) Cirque Du Soleil - "Kà" soundtrack (Cirque Du Soleil) Cryptopsy - Once Was Not (Century Media) Billy Currington - Doin' Somethin' Right (Mercury Nashville) Depeche Mode - Playing the Angel (Reprise) Faded Me - When It's Over (Bungalo) Julian Fauth - Songs of Vice and Sorrow (Electro-Fi) Fireball Ministry - Their Rock Is Not Our Rock (Liquor & Poker) Mick Harvey - One Man's Treasure (Mute) Johnny Society - Coming to Get You (Messenger) Lakota - Hope for the Haunted (Pop Up) Brie Larson - Finally Out of P.E. (Casablanca) Erik Larson - Faith, Hope, Love (Small Stone) Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra With Winton Marsalis - Don't Be Afraid ... The Music of Charles Mingus (Palmetto) Lovetones - Meditations (Tee Pee) The Peter Malick Group featuring Norah Jones - The Chill Album (Koch) Marah - If You Didn't Laugh You'd Cry (Yep Roc) Master P - Ghetto Bill, Vol. 1: Chopped & Screwed Version by Paul Wall (Koch) Martina McBride - Timeless (RCA) Messer Chups - Crazy Price (Ipecac) Mest - Photographs (Maverick) Jane Monheit - The Season (enhanced; Epic) M.O.P. First Family - M.O.P. First Family Salutes the St. Marxmen (Koch) Mr. Shadow - Drama (P.R.) Odetta - Gonna Let It Shine (M.C.) Play N Skillz - The Process (Universal) Robert Pollard - Bubble (EP' Recordhead) Lou Pride - Keep on Believing (Severn) Primal Fear - Seven Seals (Nuclear Blast) Propagandhi - Potemkin City Limits (Fat Wreck Chords) Rev Run - Distortion (enhanced; RSMG/Def Jam) Ribeye Brothers - Bar Ballads ... and Cautionary Tales (Times Beach) Scarface - The Product (Koch) The Brian Setzer Orchestra - Dig That Crazy Christmas (Surfdog) Silver Jews - Tanglewood Numbers (Drag City) Simply Red - Simplified (Verve) Ashlee Simpson - I Am Me (Geffen)
Read: [article id="1506955"]"Ashlee Remembers 'SNL' Incident But Forgets Boys On New LP"[/article]
Eddie Spaghetti - Old No. 2 (Digipak; Mid-Fi) Rod Stewart - Thanks for the Memory ... The Great American Songbook Volume IV (J) sunn0))) - Black One (Southern Lord) Sworn Enemy - Beginning of the End (Abacus) Thrice - Vheissu (Island)
Read: [article id="1505739"]"Thrice Going Underground -- In A Sense -- For Enigmatic Vheissu"[/article]
Timeout Drawer - Nowonmai (Consumers Research) Unfold - Aeon-Aony (Earache) Voltage - Building the Bass (Flameshovel) Wheatus - Too Soon Monsoon (MRI) Brian Wilson - What I Really Want for Christmas (Arista) With Honor - This Is Our Revenge (Victory) Stevie Wonder - A Time to Love (Motown) Various artists - A Skaggs Family Christmas (Skaggs Family) Various artists - Dreddy Kruger Presents ... Think Differently Music: Wu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture (Babygrand) Various artists - The Next Level: Independence Day - The Album (Warlock) Various artists - Protect: A Benefit for the National Association to Protect Children (Fat Wreck Chords) Various artists - Sound of the World (Warlock) Various artists - To Kate: A Benefit for Kate's Sake (Western Beat/ Emergent) Various artists - VH1 Classic Metal Mania Stripped Volume 2: The Anthems (Sidewinder) Various artists - "The Chumscrubber" soundtrack (Lakeshore) Various artists - "Masters of Horror" soundtrack (two CDs; Immortal) Various artists - "Stubbs the Zombie" soundtrack (Shout! Factory) Various artists - "Tony Hawk's American Wasteland" soundtrack (Vagrant)
Read: [article id="1507936"]"Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance Ollie Onto 'Tony Hawk' Soundtrack"[/article]
? and the Mysterians - The Best of ? and the Mysterians: Cameo Parkway 1966-1967 (ABKCO) Bryan Adams - Anthology (two CDs with DVD; A/M)
Buy Now: Anthology (A/M) Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass - Christmas Album (Shout! Factory) The Briefs - Steal Yer Heart (BYO) Chubby Checker - The Best of Chubby Checker: Cameo Parkway 1963-1964 (ABKCO) Joe Cocker Mad Dog & Englishmen - Mad Dogs & Englishmen (A&M) The Dovells - The Best of the Dovells: Cameo Parkway 1961-1965 (ABKCO) Melissa Etheridge - Greatest Hits: The Road Less Traveled - Deluxe Edition (Island) King Crimson - The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson, Vol. 2: 1981-2003 (box set; Discipline Global Media) Bobby Rydell - The Best of Bobby Rydell: Cameo Parkway 1963-1964 (ABKCO) Dee Dee Sharp - The Best of Dee Dee Sharp: Cameo Parkway 1963-1964 (ABKCO) Six Feet Under - A Decade in the Grave (five-disc box set; Metal Blade) Supertramp - Retrospectacle: The Supertramp Anthology - Gold (A&M) Unearth - The Oncoming Storm (special edition with DVD; Metal Blade) The Tymes - The Best of the Tymes: Cameo Parkway 1963-1964 (ABKCO)
Chick Corea Elektric Band - Live at Montreux 2004 (Eagle Rock) Gwar - Four Pack (four DVDs; Metal Blade) Jerry Lee Lewis - Jerry Lee Lewis and Friends (Eagle Rock) Queen + Paul Rodgers - Return of the Champions (Hollywood) Suzanne Vega - Live at Montreux 2004 (Eagle Rock) Franz Zappa - Dub Room Special (Eagle Rock) Chamillionaire - The Sound of Revenge (Universal) Destiny's Child - #1's (DualDisc; Columbia)
Read: [article id="1510101"]"Destiny's Child Look Back With #1's Before Going Their Separate Ways"[/article]
Buy Now: #1's (Columbia) Fefe Dobson - Sunday Love (enhanced; Island)
Nirvana - Sliver: The Best of the Box (Geffen) Blink 182 - Greatest Hits (Geffen) Santana - All That I Am (Arista)
Read: [article id="1509563"]"Guest List For New Santana LP: Big Boi, Mary J., Will.I.Am, Bo Bice And More"[/article]
Limp Bizkit - Greatest Hitz (Geffen) The Mars Volta - Scab Dates (Universal) Young Buck - T.I.P. (Mass Appeal)