Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s another week of big releases, and this week’s column starts off with Usher, who is releasing his seventh LP today. Mr. Raymond calls the sounds of Looking 4 Myself “revolutionary pop,” and while I don’t think many people will agree with that particular assessment, it’s fair to say that Usher has been a proven hitmaker for almost two decades at this point, and his run of hits is pretty unlikely to stop with this album.
Usher will likely lay claim to the #1 spot on next week’s Billboard album chart, but he will have to withstand a challenge from one of rock’s most beloved outfits. The mighty Rush are back for the first time in a half decade with Clockwork Angels, and if complaints from folks who feel like the Canuck proggers belong in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame can be matched by first week record sales, Geddy Lee and co. will have a monster album on their hands.
Speaking of the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, soul legend Bobby Womack was inducted in 2011. The veteran singer/songwriter has been quiet for the better part of two decades, but has garnered renewed interest thanks to his appearances on several recent Gorillaz tunes. That band’s Damon Albarn produces Bobby’s comeback effort, The Bravest Man In The Universe, and it’s garnered strong reviews, despite featuring a guest appearance by everyone’s favorite whipping girl, Lana Del Ray.
Those three are just the tip of the iceberg in a week that heralds the arrival (and departure?) of the latest hot female rapper, Azealia Banks. Much like Nicki Minaj, Banks raps and sings. Much like Nicki Minaj, Banks appears to be prone to tantrums, as she recently decided she no longer wants to be a rapper–an interesting thing to decide right before your first project is released. Anyway, her EP 1991 (which I assume refers to her birth year) appears in stores and online tomorrow. Fans of commercial hip-hop might also dig new releases today from Waka Flocka Flame and the Far East Movement, who are going to try to avoid the one-hit wonder curse.,
On the more guitar-centric tip, there’s Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. The country & folk-inflected outfit has grown in public stature this past year or two, and The Lion The Beast The Beat might just be the album to break them onto the “A” list. If you want just a little more twang, then grab Punching Bag, the latest from deep, DEEP voiced country crooner Josh Turner. Wanna go the indie/new wave route? Give a listen to Metric‘s new album, Synthetica. Finally, if you want to go the funny route, then try out Jimmy Fallon‘s second album (and first since becoming the man to watch on late night TV.) Blow Your Pants Off has the guest list of every rock fan’s wet dream, featuring Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder in addition to Justin Timberlake.
Reissues: Several Sony-identified artists are having some major box set action this week: the Complete Collection series compiles the Columbia, Epic and RCA repertoires of jazz legends such as Weather Report, Grover Washington Jr. and Nina Simone, as well as metal icons Judas Priest and smooth R&B perennials Earth, Wind & Fire, to name a few. In light of Robin Gibb’s recent death, Bee Gees fans will likely be on the lookout for a three volume series entitled Rare, Precious & Beautiful, while deceased hip-hop producer J. Dilla also has something coming out. The Rebirth of Detroit was an album commissioned prior to his 2006 passing and features over 30 emcees from Detroit, Dilla’s hometown.
WTFF Release Of The Week: Jesse will kill me for putting this here, but: Men Without Hats has a new album out. Yes, folks, it is 2012. Look for the review later this week. I’m not kidding.
Y’all know the deal by now: a full list of releases can be found at Pause And Play. Check it out.