It’s been a pretty quiet March for new music, but opposite to what people normally say about this particular month, it’s going in like a lamb and out like a lion in terms of new music. Here are three albums coming out today that I’m looking forward to.

    Barenaked Ladies “All in Good Time”:

I’m curious to hear what these guys sound like without Steven Page. The fact that BNL is known to a segment of the population as a “joke” band means that Page has not been particularly appreciated for his vocal gifts. I’ve seen these guys live, and believe me when I tell you Steven Page could be singing opera, he’s so good. However, he’s no longer in the band, which means that the majority of the vocal duties now fall on Ed Robertson. I always thought that part of BNL’s coolness was based on the fact that the albums generally alternated between Steve songs and Ed songs and Steve & Ed songs. While I like “You Run Away”, the first single, I can’t help but be skeptical about what the remainder of the album sounds like.

Over at Popdose, Jason Hare posted an excellent review of the album.

    Erykah Badu “New Amerykah Vol. 2: Return of the Ankh”-

Amidst the hubbub surrounding Erykah’s guerilla-style nekkid video, people might have forgotten that the lady does have an album out today. While the first volume of New Amerykah was a bit on the obtuse side of things (this couldn’t have possibly surprised anyone), Vol. 2 is supposed to be a little more one listen-friendly, if you know what I mean. “Window Seat” does give me a vibe that’s more “Baduism” than “Worldwide Underground”. However, Erykah’s a treat to listen to whether she’s grounded or lost in space, so I feel pretty comfortable saying that I’ll enjoy this album without having heard a note beyond the singles yet.

Usher “Raymond vs. Raymond”- THIS album, on the other hand…I don’t know. Here’s the difference between a musician and a pop star. The first volume of Badu’s “New Amerykah” sold moderately but wasn’t a blockbuster, but it didn’t seem to faze Erykah or her label to the point where they put her in a place where her artistry was stunted in order to get a hit (Lil Wayne cameo notwithstanding). It’s pretty much business as usual in the Badu camp.

Usher’s last album, “Here I Stand” sold a million copies-a success for sure. However, Mr. Raymond’s previous album, “Confessions”, sold a million copies in it’s first week on shelves. “Here I Stand” has yet to sell 15% of “Confessions” 10 million copies. From that perspective, it would appear that some damage control is needed, although from a musical perspective, “Here I Stand” wasn’t a bad album. So…Usher’s label appears to be pulling out all the stops here-teaming him with Plies, Nicki Minaj and to attempt to guarantee success instead of just letting Usher be Usher. Something tells me that despite the best efforts of Arista Records, “Raymond vs. Raymond” isn’t gonna reclaim Usher’s superstar status. Actually, all of this seems kind of regressive and desperate, and I get the feeling that when I pick this album up, I’m gonna be REALLY disappointed.

Other artists releasing albums this week include country legend Alan Jackson, the Pixies’ Frank Black/Black Francis, Amy Grant, and comedians Robin Williams and Joe Rogan. Make sure you check out Pause and Play for a comprehensive list of this week’s releases.

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