As you can see, it's a pretty weak week for new releases -- don't expect to see many new faces cracking next week's top 10 ... or 20, for that matter. In fact, it's so slow that we've decided to double up some of the latest rack contenders tag-team style and see who'd come out on top. It's probably the only time you'll see a margarita-swilling folk legend conspiring with death-metal cretins to body-slam a band of cabaret-loving punks.
Round One: Tricked-Out Magic
Alchemist and Elefant vs. Moby and Coachella: Alchemist is hoping to turn his fading 1st Infantry record -- it's been out for almost two years -- back into gold with a DVD-enhanced deluxe edition. New York dynamos Elefant are up to some mojo of their own with their second release, The Black Magic Show, taking on producer Don Gilmore (Good Charlotte, Linkin Park) and mixer Andy Wallace (Nirvana, Sonic Youth). In the other corner, Moby pours two bonus films, a cover of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" and a full CD of remixes into his "Live - Hotel Tour 2005" set, then gangs up with the cast of "Coachella: The Film" -- including the Flaming Lips, Radiohead and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
When the other Coachella backups -- Belle and Sebastian, Muse and Tenacious D -- find themselves up against Al's impressive guests (Nas, Game and T.I.), it's time to ring the bell.
Round Two: Burnin' Up
The Fiery Furnaces and Just a Fire vs. Judge Jules and the Red Krayola: Native Chicago twosome the FF burn into this competition with their fourth opus, Bitter Tea, frothing over with songs like "The Vietnamese Telephone Ministry," "Police Sweater Blood Vow" and "Whistle Rhapsody?" Windy City cohorts Just a Fire -- featuring members of June of 44 and Sweep the Leg Johnny -- keep the temperature raised with their second record, Spanish Time. On the other end of the ring, pre-eminent DJ Judge Jules dishes up his first domestic release in almost 13 years with The Global Warm-Up Mix CD, which cobbles together tracks by lesser-known players like Signalrunner, Randy Katana and E-Craig; and the 40-year-old Red Krayola throw another iron in the fire with their ill-named Introduction, even if it is their first studio set in more than five years.
Winners: Fiery Furnaces and Just a Fire out-sweat the competition.
Round Three: Lunch Break
The Disco Biscuits and Banana Blender Surprise vs. Matthew Sweet and Marshall Chapman: Jam-rock spazz-outs the Disco Biscuits have the most colorful album cover this week with The Wind at Four to Fly, and their tag-team partners Banana Blender Surprise promise even more dietary goodness on their own double-disc affair, Paint the Town Brown, which culls together most of the band's old material. Matthew Sweet and the Bangles' Susanna Hoffs come together to recap some of their favorite '60s tunes by the Beatles, Neil Young and the Velvet Underground for Under the Covers, Vol. 1, while Chapman antes up with Mellowicious!, her first outing in nine years.
Winners: Sweet and Mellowicious! let their sugary tendencies get the better of them, and DB and BBS' continental breakfast makes them the new intercontinental champions.
Round Four: Getting Frisky
Animal Liberation Orchestra and Be Your Own Pet vs. the Lovely Feathers and Lizzie West: ALO put out a different version of Fly Between Falls last summer, but their new one has a fresh recording of "Walls of Jericho" -- a song featured on Jack Johnson's recent live DVD -- plus reworked takes of "Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down" and "Barbecue." Be Your Own Pet, in the meantime, keep it elementary on their Summer Sensation EP with tracks like "Bicycle, Bicycle" and "Fire Department." On the opposing side, the Lovely Feathers get up on their Hind Hind Legs digipak to name off a couple of their heroes on "Pope Jean Paul" and "Rod Stewart," while Lizzie West ropes in the White Buffalo to craft I Pledge Allegiance to Myself, on which she covers songs by Bob Marley and Steve Goodman.
Winners: Freedom fighters ALO and Be Your Own Pet claw through their opponents (with some help from Elefant, who hunt down the White Buffalo when the ref's not looking).
Round Five: Location, Location
The Dresden Dolls and Stereophonics vs. Jimmy Buffett and Impaled Nazarene: Cabaret hasn't stopped Boston's Dresden Dolls from showing some skin on their Yes, Virginia ... digipak; just look to songs like "Sex Changes" and "First Orgasm" for proof. They get some help from the 'Phonics, who cram 20 nuggets into the two-disc Live From Dakota, which the Brits are putting out on their own Vox Populi imprint. Buffett heads to the Stereophonics' homeland with "Werewolves of London," which appears on the "Hoot" soundtrack; but things are noticeably grittier up north in Finland, where death-metal maniacs Impaled Nazarene send up "One Dead Nation Under Dead God" and "Goat Sodomy" as part of their Pro Patria Finlandia.
Winners: After the other side passes out from too many margaritas and too much animal intercourse, the Dresden Dolls and Stereophonics are the last ones standing.
Round Six: Evil vs. Good
Rye Coalition and Killing Joke vs. the Church and Dio: Indie-rock vets Rye Coalition stuck true to their roots and pulled off a heroic feat by nabbing Curses -- their fourth, Dave Grohl-produced record -- back from Interscope, breaking their contract with the major label but retaining ownership of the LP all the same (now the record's dropping on underground imprint Gern Blandsten). Backing up Rye are Killing Joke, who holed up in a basement in Prague and used tape-echo machines dating back to 1979 to craft their nine-track Hosannas From the Basement of Hell. On God's side are the Church, who recorded their Uninvited Like the Clouds last summer in Sydney; and Dio, who's Holy Diver Live gives him an excuse to recap hits like "Stand Up and Shout" and "Heaven and Hell," the latter of which he originally tracked with the very unholy Black Sabbath. (Completing the circle, Grohl played drums on Tenacious D's tribute track "Dio.")
Winners: Daniel Johnston -- whose documentary "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" precipitated this week's Welcome to My World: The Music of Daniel Johnston archival set -- dives into the ring and pile-drives the Church and Dio. Who says Satan can't cheat?
Main Prize: Hogs all around for the winners! There's Demolition Doll Rods' There Is a Difference, plus reissues of the Knights' Hot Rod High and Mr. Gasser and the Weirdos' Hot Rod Hootenanny and Rods N' Rat Finks. Now that's a hootenanny.
Song Title of the Week:
"Cool and Unusual Punishment" from NOFX's Wolves in Wolves' Clothing
Notable Reissues and Archival Material:
- Aiden - Our Gang's Dark Oath (Victory)
Read: [article id="1519736"]"Godsmack Finishing Up 'Killer' Fourth LP, Working On Football Theme"[/article]
Read: [article id="1524534"]"Rihanna Getting In Touch With Her Rock Side For Next LP"[/article]
Read: [article id="1527172"]"Taking Back Sunday Say Debuting At #800 Wouldn't Bother Them"[/article]
Buy Now: Louder Now (Warner Bros.)
Read: [article id="1521579"]"Mobb Deep, 50 Cent Get Tattoos To Prove Their Loyalty"[/article]
Read: [article id="1502710"]"Pearl Jam, Post-'Therapy': 'The Sex Is Better Than Ever!' "[/article]
Read: [article id="1510427"]"Thursday Frontman Says He Doesn't Want To Exploit My Chemical Romance, But ..."[/article]
Read: [article id="1524554"]"Chili Peppers Stoked About New Album, Possible Kanye Tour"[/article]
Read: [article id="1526932"]"Snow Patrol Turn 'Candy-Assed' Music Into Beastly Arena Rock"[/article]