Another Tuesday, another round of heavy hitters. Will any of them hit as hard as the Biebs did? Commercially speaking, that is.
Maroon 5 is a definite contender. The relatively lackluster performance of Hands All Over was troubling (for the band, anyway…it performed in lackluster fashion because it was a lackluster album IMO) until lead singer Adam Levine got his manwhore ass on a reality show and teamed up with his co-host Christina Aguilera for a smash hit. “Moves Like Jagger” was a massive #1 hit, selling something like 5 million digital downloads, Hands was reissued with the new single (of course,) went Platinum, and all was right in Maroon 5’s world. Their fourth album, Overexposed, hits stores and online outlets today and continues their uber-poppy transformation. I’m not complaining-yet. Both “Payphone” and “One More Night” are better than any of the singles from Hands All Over-including “Jagger.” Let’s see if the rest of the album holds up.
Another band that sort of stumbled last time around was Linkin Park. The former rap/metal titans have spread their wings far beyond their original sound, thanks in part to retaining Rick Rubin as their producer. I’ve actually dug their more recent stuff, but I’m a weirdo and LP’s fans stayed away from A Thousand Suns in droves. From what I am being made to understand, the guys’ new album, Living Things, strikes a balance between traditional Linkin Park and more new-school, experimental Linkin Park. I already know too much about Linkin Park than I should, but I’m actually kinda psyched to hear this album. Especially since advance word from other members of the Popblerd team has been quite strong.
Once labeled the Pied Piper of R&B (kinda gross, all things considered,) R. Kelly has settled into sort of an elder statesman’s role. The quality of his albums has increased greatly in the last couple of years, as he’s stopped trying to be an R&B thug and has adopted a more classic style. I still won’t buy any of the dude’s records (as I may have mentioned before, he’s gross,) but I’ll certainly give his latest album, Write Me Back, a spin. It’s being billed as a sequel to his last album, 2010’s Love Letter, and that album was his best since 1995. I believe Kells also has an autobiography coming out, but…come on, man. You don’t want to read that. No one wants to read that.
I’ll admit to being a little surprised that The Offspring are still around, seeing as their schtick was tired 10 if not 15 years ago, and Dexter Holland has that astrophysics degree or whatever to fall back on (not that he shouldn’t be set for life following Smash and “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy.)” Anyway, Dex, Noodles and the other guys are back at it with a new album, Days Go By. The first single and title track is horrid, but maybe the fans that haven’t banished copies of their post-Smash albums to the garbage or the used record store will find something to dig.
Elsewhere in new release land, there are some notable (or at least interesting) albums from the likes of Joe Jackson, Cassandra Wilson, Blues Traveler and Everclear. ’70s and ’80s icon Jackson (not Michael’s father) has switched musical styles over the years the way some people have changed socks. Duke is a tribute to jazz legend Duke Ellington, and features a who’s who of jazz legends. Wilson might not be a household name outside of a certain pocket of music fans, but her voice is one of the most riveting instruments in music. Another Country is a collaboration with Italian guitarist Fabrizio Sotti, and, well, Time Magazine called her “America’s best singer.” So, this just might be one to check out. Meanwhile, John Popper and Art Alexakis continue to make music past their sell-by dates, which were the late Nineties and the early oughts, respectively.
Reissues: There’s a massive, 75-song set from reggae legend Peter Tosh being released, and Hip-O Select is releasing a package of two post-Smokey Miracles albums. If you’re not familiar with The Miracles in the Billy Griffin era, I’d suggest giving them a shot. Much like the post-Diana Ross Supremes, these guys were much better than you would think. Meanwhile, R&B reissue label Funkytown Grooves is re-releasing albums from femme trio The Three Degrees and singer/songwriter/producer Kashif, whose 1983 debut is worth collecting for soul fans. Also, Hidden Beach Records continue to bleed Jill Scott‘s old material dry by releasing a remix album. Let’s just do a greatest hits and get it over with, k?
WTFF Release Of The Week: Namaste, by Kenny G. & Rahul Sharma. Need I say more?
Am I missing anything? If so, you’ll probably find it over at Pause And Play.