Sometimes I wonder if the people who run record companies have a vested interest in the failure of the music industry. Here we are, five weeks into the new year, without one superstar release. Granted, most of the country has been dealing with Snowpocalypse, but you’d have to imagine that stores are still open, and if someone wants a piece of music badly enough, technology has afforded us the ability to order via Amazon or iTunes so we don’t have to strap our boots on and hop in the car to pick up our favorite new music. So why is it that nothing’s being released to drive people to buy music?

I wrote that two weeks ago when preparing a column for the 2/1 new releases-a column I ultimately scrapped just because there wasn’t enough interesting material. Last week? Same sentiment. This week? Yet again, not very many quality releases. Makes me wonder what the people in the executive offices sniffing coke because they think it’s still 2001 are doing with themselves.

This week’s big music release (in terms of popularity, anyway), comes from young Grammy shutout Justin Bieber. In order to capitalize on his concert film, “Never Say Never”, his label is putting out an album of remixes. There’s no shortage of teen acts who’ve milked the hell out of previously released material, why should Biebs be any different? Guest artists galore are on this one, from the expected (mentor Usher) to the slightly unexpected (Rascal Flatts) to the cautionary tale (Chris Brown) to the WTF? (Raekwon). I’m sure the Bieb’s gaggle of teenage girl fans will take a break from defacing Esperanza Spalding’s Wikipedia page to pick this up before tossing it in the trash 2 years now because their musical tastes have evolved and they can’t believe they ever listened to Justin Bieber.

The next biggest-selling new release will probably come courtesy of Conor Oberst, who most of you know as Bright Eyes. Fresh off the Monsters of Folk project (the only thing he’s been a part of that’s ever interested me), Oberst unveils his latest album, entitled The People’s Key. He’s joined on the release docket by veteran Southern rock crew The Drive-By Truckers, whose G0-Go Boots comes less than a year after their previous release, The Big To-Do. PJ Harvey (a name you will be very familiar with if you read Spin Magazine in the mid Nineties) is back, with Let England Shake, and there are also releases from Nelson, Stryper, and (spit-take) Mr. Big. Doesn’t it make you feel like it’s 1991 all over again?

Of course, there’s always the unveiling of the new Radiohead album this weekend, which will receive it’s official CD and vinyl release on March 26th. Until then, you can keep an eye on this week’s and all other new and upcoming releases by checking out my homeboy Gerry at Pause and Play!

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