Shak' Attack: Is speaking English such a sin? You'd think so from the neobiblical artwork adorning Shakira's Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 -- she's naked (but tastefully camouflaged by a strand of ivy) and holding an apple in Eve-like fashion. The belly-bending singer's joined by executive producer Rick Rubin, Carlos Santana and Argentinean singer/songwriter Gustavo Cerati on her first English-language album in four years, which resuscitates two tracks from Vol. 1 ("Something" and "The Day and the Time"), questions religion ("How Do You Do") and somehow manages to tackle politics by way of disco ("Timor").
Brownie, You're Doing a Heck of a Job: If you've been holding out for Chris Brown's much-hyped self-titled debut, you can slake your thirst this week, but be aware that there's a DualDisc dropping December 13 with all the fixins: video (for "Run It!"), interview, photos, and live and behind-the-scenes footage. Tracks on both versions include: "Ain't No Way (You Won't Love Me)," "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)" and "Poppin'."
Don't Blink: Did Ryan Cabrera's marketing team run out of steam after the September release of You Stand Watching? 'Parently so, as he's eking out a DVD this week that has gone virtually unmentioned. But rest assured, fans, "Live at the Wiltern LG" is here, and it's loaded with your faves: "Let's Take Our Time," "On the Way Down," "Last Night" and even a cover of Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al."
Switcheroo: What could INXS possibly mean by calling their new album Switch? Could it be the switch to new singer J.D. Fortune? The switch from reunited rock stars to reality-TV stars, then back once again, hopefully, to rock stars? The switch from Mercury Records to Epic? The switch from audio content to video content, as facilitated by the DualDisc version? We may never know. ("Rock Star: INXS - the DVD" also drops this week.)
Open Wide: Already have plenty of Dave Matthews Band live material, which now officially constitutes more than half their official catalog? Already have Dave Matthews Band live material from the scenic Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado? Well, too bad: Weekend on the Rocks has two CDs and a DVD's worth of tuneage from four nights in September. But wait -- there's more. No, seriously. On December 13, DMB release The Complete Weekend on the Rocks, an eight-CD-plus-DVD monstrosity that lives up to its name. It won't be copy protected, either, so fans of the typically bootleg-averse Matthews can go hog wild.
A Dark Day in Hell: Will the Darkness fall on deaf ears? That's the question glam fans have been asking since 2003's shamelessly clichéd Permission to Land was followed by rumors of equally clichéd in-fighting, drugs and breakup. It might not be a good sign that the Brits made their entire One Way Ticket to Hell ... and Back available on MySpace prior to release, but they do have a Tenacious-D-worthy video for "One Way Ticket."
French Connection: Les gens behind Nous Non Plus -- who actually met at the Rhode Island School of Design -- manage to be both bilingual and erotic on their self-named record, which includes "Château," "Tant Pis Pour Toi" and the slightly less frou-frou "Lawnmower Boy." Another indie squad, London's Hot Chip, bring their Europe-released Coming on Strong Stateside and tack on three bonuses: "A-B-C," "Hittin Skittles" and "From Drummer to Driver." (Note: Coming on Strong still does contain "Crap Kraft Dinner" and "Down With Prince.")
Book It: Don't read too much into the title to Diplomats & Friends' "The Book of Hip Hop," which is actually a straight-up DVD featuring Cam'ron, Juelz Santana, Jim Jones, Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel. If you're looking for something of the literary variety, turn instead to Lee Ranaldo & Leah Singer's multimedia "Drift" package. The DVD showcases the duo's poetry/ improv guitar/ film projection project that has been exhibited in various museums, while the accompanying 112-page volume has poetry by the Sonic Youth guitarist and lots more.
Song Title of the Week:
"Pharmacists of the Sun" (Winechuggers' Grand Rapids)
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