Tag Archives: Seasonal Music Preview

Do you remembah the twenty-first night of Septembah?

September is shaping up to be the best month in months. More related to music than anything else, but some other things as well. Get a load of how many albums are coming out in just a few weeks time. Because of the uncertainty of release dates, I’ll list them alphabetically by album:

Clapton – Eric Clapton

Not much to say, other than this is probably going to be a pretty standard, run-of-the-mill Clapton album. That is to say, another awesome album of killer blues/pop tunes layered with the most melodic guitar playing you can hear in today’s music scene. Most people say John Mayer is the next real bluesman/guitar player of our generation; it’s because he essentially copies everything Clapton does musically. Smart move, because Clapton rocks. He can write great hooks and then throw a solo in that melts your face. Or heart. Depends what kind of mood you’re in. Either way, this is going to be a great album, no question.

Kaleidoscope Heart – Sara Bareilles

A few years back, Sara Bareilles hurtled onto the pop scene with her single Love Song and her debut album Little Voice. Holy cow does this woman have some pipes. Seriously, this whole album was full of hook after hook. Her voice sounded real. And bold, and unique. I think it was different because she had a powerful voice, and it was good, and there wasn’t a hint of disingenuousness* in it. I have heard the first single off this new album and I liked it, but I’m hoping that the deeper cuts will yield even better results. That’s how it was on her first one. Love Song was a great song, but holy cow there were loads of even greater songs on it. This will be an awesome album.

Lonely Avenue – Ben Folds & Nick Hornby

Any music by Ben Folds is a guaranteed winner**. Lyrics contributed by Nick Hornby, author of novels like About A Boy and High Fidelity. How could this thing be bad?
Nothing – N.E.R.D.
OK, this one I’m a little iffy on. Their last album was a pretty big let-down for me, mainly because the album before it was absolutely awesome. I won’t be buying this one on Day 1, but I’ll give it a listen and see if it has the potential to grow on me. I can’t give up on Pharrell yet.
Record Collection – Mark Ronson
Another one I’m unsure of at this point. I’ve only heard the first single, and it was a little synth-heavy for my taste. Ronson’s last solo album was really fun, he had horns going all over that thing and some great guest spots. This one, fewer guest spots, and possibly a more electro bent to it. Which isn’t bad, if it’s done well. I trust him to do it well.
Untitled – Adele
This one is the album whose release date could be pushed back as no real definitive release date has been set as of yet. It would be hard for me to not like this one though, or at least be more open-minded with this one than any of the others. Adele’s first album took forever to grow on me, but oh my did it ever grow on me. Her voice just enchants me, and musically her debut was really different for a pop album. Nothing cookie-cutter. And on this next album, she’s getting producing from Rick Rubin, flavored with a country-twinge, and she’s got some heavy hitters playing sessions with her, namely Pino Palladino (John Mayer Trio, D’Angelo, Clapton, anybody ever who wanted a good bass session player) and James Poyser (executive produced Al Green’s 2008 effort Lay It Down and worked on D’Angelo’s Voodoo, ’nuff said). It’s going to be awesome, even if it takes awhile to get into my system. Super, super excited about this one.
Wake Up Everybody – John Legend & The Roots
This is going to be another really fun album. I love soul music, especially when it’s redone to sound awesome by awesome musicians of our generation. Almost this whole album will be covers of old soul tunes from the ’70s. Awesome. I’ve started collecting the albums from which the covers are taken, and they are all really good. All of this music revamped by the one and only ?uestlove will just be fun. And it will be great to listen to John Legend and enjoy it again.
So considering that through the month of September, I will almost double the number of albums I have released in 2010, it’s safe to say that it will be the best music month of the year. Unless Kanye actually does release his new rap album in November. Here’s to hoping.
* this is almost not a real word.
** see: the spoken word album Has Been by William Shatner. Sounds like a recipe for disaster doesn’t it? Thanks to the incredible producing touch of Ben Folds, it’s an awesome listen.

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Spring Music Preview ’10.

Rolling Stone has published their annual Spring Music Preview, giving its readers a sneak peek at new albums coming out through the summer. Here’s what I think.

1. Erykah Badu – New Ameryikah Part Two: Return of the Ankh (3/30)

Weirdest title ever. What is the deal with Erykah Badu? Do I like her or do I not? It’s a tough one. Sometimes she’s like a female D’Angelo, sometimes her music is just a tish too freaky for me. But I’ll probably get my hands on this album eventually. She seems like one of a few truly creative and free-thinking minds in R&B today, and that goes a ways with me.
2. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – I Learned The Hard Way (4/06)

This one actually isn’t profiled by the Rolling Stone article which is weird because it will almost certainly be better than most of the other albums on their list. There are not many groups these days with such an authentic, old-school sound. They are straight soul/funk/R&B. They sound like the JBs have time-warped fifty years and connected with Sharon Jones to make just the purest sounding soul music. I’m sure this album will be no different.
3. Keane – Night Train (5/11)

Another one not profiled by RS. I’m iffy on this album because I haven’t even heard Keane’s last album, Perfect Symmetry, back from late ’08. So I should probably pick that up before getting excited about a new Keane album. That’s sort of how Keane is for me though. I don’t get excited about their albums, I get them months (or years) after they are released and then I have a quiet appreciation for them. It’ll be the same with this album I’m sure.
4. Jack Johnson – To The Sea (6/01)

Considering the change between In Between Dreams and Sleep Through The Static, I can only imagine this is going to be a killer album. And Jack Johnson has long hair now. Weird.
5. Sara Bareilles – Title TBD (Date TBD)

Remember how great Sara’s first album was? Word on the Wikipedia is that ?uestlove and James Poyser (both of The Roots) are helping her out with this one. Enough said. It’s going to be incredible.
6. Maroon 5 – Title TBD (Date TBD)

Oh wow, Maroon 5 is coming out with a new album? Forget it guys, you released a totally phenom first single, a decently good debut album to back it up, and followed it up with kind of crap. It’s going to be hard to redeem yourself after taking like four years between albums. Who do you think you are, Sade?
7. Mark Ronson – Title TBD (Date TBD)

One of the best producers around. Whatever he does with this album is going to be awesome. His second album was great, Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black was great, the stuff he does with Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings is great, Rhymefest’s Blue Collar was great. It doesn’t matter what direction he goes in because he can do great stuff in any genre. Bring it Mark.
So those are the albums that stood out. None of my favorite artists have stuff coming out, but man is this year already looking miles better than last year’s spring preview. And so far, this year has been waaaay better than last year. Already, we’ve got new albums from OK Go, Sade, Jamie Cullum, Daniel Merriweather, Corinne Bailey Rae, and in the next month, Broken Bells, Gorillaz, and Jimi Hendrix. While none of these are Top 5 Favs for me, the number of albums I’d like to get is way bigger than normal. Awesome. Cheers to 2010 huh?

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fall music preview ’09.

just noticed that rolling stone has again released another seasonal music preview. let’s do it. artist name followed by album title in italics and release date in parentheses.

1. mika – the boy who knew too much (9/22)
this is almost certainly going to be the most fun record this whole season. now i’m not crazy for mika; his last album was great, and i just never really got into it. it’s just a good one to have on reserve in your ipod just in case you’re ever driving and want to start a party in your car. he’s got pop music down to a science, big sounds, colorful melodies, hooks like you wouldn’t believe. and he’s got the voice to sell it perfectly. he sounds like freddie mercury dashed with just a hint of gay. good joke jon.
2. the roots – how i got over (10/20)

torn on this one. i’ve got lots of roots records, but i’ve never fallen in love with any of them. and since i’ve never seen them perform live, i can’t actually lend any weight to the “best live band ever” title that they get all the time. i didn’t really give their last two albums more than a few listens as they seemed very dark and very unhappy about white people in general. their beats have always seemed pretty raw and not meant to draw the listener in by being easy to digest. that being said, i saw them perform their single “how i got over” off album of same name on late night with jimmy fallon, the show on which they are the house band (and really make the show watchable in my opinion), and it was super great. lots of fun, high energy, just a great tune. i’ve also heard the album version on okayplayer.com (the roots flagship website) and while it is different than their performance, it’s still a good tune. so i have no idea about this album. could be great, could be a pass-over for me.
3. creed – full circle (10/27)
hahaha. remember how awful these guys were back in 2001? when i mock a song by singing in a ridiculous “rock” voice, scott stapp is who i’m emulating. can’t believe they got back together to make more music. a real shame.
4. the swell season – strict joy (10/27)
looking forward to this album more than all of them except jm’s. the swell season are glen hansard and marketa irglova, the two actors/musicians from the 2007 movie “once”. i’ve never really written about this movie or it’s soundtrack, and i’d like to sometime because it is incredibly affecting to me. suffice it to say that both the movie and the music from it are real beauty, and what i’ve heard from this new album is very, very good. i’ve heard a few live versions of a couple tunes and the record version of the tune “low rising” and it completely blew me away. this album is going to be a year-end favorite for me.
5. john mayer – battle studies (11/17)

last and the one i’m most excited for, without a doubt. what’s up with jm releasing all his studio albums in the fall? he’s got a thing for autumn i think. as of yet, i haven’t heard a single thing except background snippets of tunes off this album, and i’m excited and anxious to hear where he’s going after one of my very favorite records ever continuum. it’s been three years since that album came out and lots has happened in his life since then. mainly he’s become a douchebag in the public eye. we’ll see how that translates to music. hopefully something great.
there we go. loads more albums were on the list, just nothing that really excited much more than these. and i’m probably only going to buy the last two when they come out, the rest i can wait awhile to hear.
i was looking back at my previous “music preview” posts and noticed that i said lots of things about albums i was excited about and then they let me down or they totally blew me away. i think what i’m gonna do from here on is every time i go over a new music preview, i’ll take a look back at the most recent preview and take stock of what i actually liked or didn’t like. that being said, i’m gonna do the last two spring previews from this year and last year to catch up. album title first followed by artist in parentheses.
– hard candy (madonna): didn’t even listen to it. heard the single with justin timberlake, thought “eh.”
– rising down (the roots): like i said earlier, very dark and raw. hard to listen to for me. didn’t love it.
– lay it down (al green): without a doubt one of my Top 5 Favorite Albums. of any genre. any artist. of all time. fantastic, brilliant, luminous album. can’t say enough good.
– we sing. we dance. we steal things (jason mraz): never really digested it. but it sounded alright.
– viva la vida or death and all his friends (coldplay): another brilliant album from coldplay. totally love this band, and this album, along with al green’s, was for sure my most played during 2008. such a great, great record.
– weezer (weezer): didn’t even bother. i wrote about it just to make fun.
– seeing sounds (n.e.r.d): definitely let down by this one. i loved the single but the rest was just too off-kilter for a n.e.r.d record. i was hoping for much more along the lines of fly or die and i got just something weird.
– way to normal (ben folds): loved it. listened to this a ton. really fun, great melodies, great hooks, great tunes overall. awesome album.
so those were all from the spring ’08 preview, and the four albums i wrote about for the spring ’09 preview were all duds, as in i didn’t listen or buy any of them so i have no follow-up at all.
have to mention one album that almost fell through the cracks here, since it wasn’t on the spring ’09 preview and it was just released so it missed the fall ’09 preview too. jay-z just released the blueprint 3 a week ago and i must say he has another winner. i am in love with this album right now. great beats, great rhymes, great collabos, everything on here is awesome. jay’s still got it. such a great record. definitely will tide me over until october 27th, which will then suffice until november 17th. come on autumn!

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spring music preview ’09.

so rolling stone has recently released their spring music preview, showcasing bunches of albums coming out in the next six months or so. here are the ones that caught my eye for one reason or another.

1. bob dylan – together through life (4/28)
bob dylan is an enigma to me. his music isn’t exactly campus-walking music to me because i wouldn’t necessarily call him all that good. like technically good. he was revolutionary, ground-breaking, all that, but he played simple guitar tunes and sang his lyrics through a weird wail. not saying it’s bad, but i just wouldn’t call him a virtuoso. so i wouldn’t say i’m excited about a new bob dylan album, and i certainly won’t go get it right away, but it will eventually find it’s way into my itunes library.

2. ben harper – white lies for dark times (5/5)
this is more noteworthy just cause ben harper is a artist i respect, even though i hardly ever listen to him. he’s one of those artists that i know is incredibly talented, his live shows are out of this world, he has a very cool style, but i’ve just never really focused on him or his music. i have his live at mars album but that’s it. and the main reason i have that album is cause of his sexual healing cover (so freakin’ sexy). so for me, seeing he’s got a new album coming out is more like “oh. i bet it’ll be good” but that’s about where it ends.

3. dave matthews band – big whiskey and the groogrux king (6/2)
this is almost the same as the ben harper release for me; i almost wish i was a bigger dave fan so i was more excited about it. when i was around 15 though i fell in love with the dave matthews band and absolutely ate up all of their albums. for the last 5 years or so though, i haven’t really listened to them at all. so this album i’m kind of iffy about. maybe one day in the future i will find all my old dave cds and put them on my computer and introduce them to my kids and fall back in love with their music. at that point i will probably get this album and not like it as much as under the table and dreaming.

4. ok go – title tbd (august)
i guess i can’t say i’m excited for this one either, but i’m interested to hear how it sounds. their first album was great and i never really got into the second one more than like three of the tunes, but i think i would’ve liked it had i really spent time on it. but when lead singer damien kulash says this album sounds like “purple rain through broken speakers,” that’s definitely enough to intrigue me.

there were a bunch of other albums that made me say “hm interesting” but nothing i was excited about. even these four i’m like “eh.” other ones i noticed but don’t care about were eminem’s new album, lil’ wayne’s, 50 cent’s, green day’s, jonas brothers, mos def, black eyed peas. i have thoughts about all these, but only like a sentence long so it wasn’t even worth writing them down. on second thought that’s wrong. here’s what i think about those 7, respectively:
– you can rhyme like nobody but that doesn’t matter when you don’t rhyme about anything substantial and your music is SO childish.
– you had the biggest album last year but none of the songs were good. how does that work? i hope this new “rock” style you’re exploring shows everybody that you actually do suck.
– no one cares anymore. what happened to the no more solo albums pledge if your album lost to kanye?
– stop trying to make epic punk music. those two words don’t belong together.
– you got your fame from the DISNEY channel. how can you look at yourselves as real artists?
– i wish i liked your music more. you are a great emcee but your stuff’s just not accessible to me.
– holy cow you guys stopped being good before you ever even started. pump it was kind of a fun song, yet nothing good came before it and nothing good has come since. your new song is awful. how are you still popular?

the other thing of note in the rolling stone article is how many old artists are releasing new albums. elvis costello, dmb, depeche mode, bob dylan, steve earle, flaming lips, green day, willie nelson, sonic youth, wilco, neil young. these people have all been around for at least like 15 years, some much much longer than that. that’s incredible. and at the same time, disappointing that really none of them i’m big fans of.

so that’s about it. really kind of a disappointing year. last year i had coldplay, ben folds, al green, john mayer. some of my absolute favorites. this year…nobody. sucks. guess it’ll give me time to focus on my surplus of older music.


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spring music preview ’08.

rolling stone just recently released their spring album preview, and there are quite a few albums coming out that make me very excited about the next few months for music. here are the ones that seemed most notable to me:

1. madonna – hard candy (4/29)
this seemed notable to me, but only because of my last blog. 11th studio album? really? come on madge. you’ve been around since the early 80s. your career is over 20 years old, which in terms of regular careers is like 80 years old. much too old in my opinion. she should be done.

that being said, madonna did do it right this time, getting hit-maker pharrell to produce near half of the album. she nailed her collabs too, my goodness did she ever. justin timberlake, timbaland, kanye? get out of here. after i listened to 4 minutes, the first single off the album, i thought “hm that’s a cool timbaland song. too bad madonna’s on it.” but according to pharrell, “it’s like a sex and workout album.” outstanding. hearing pharrell say something like that can only make me excited. i love pharrell as a musician and a singer, but he blows me away as a producer. so i’m torn on this album.

2. the roots – rising down (4/29)
madonna releases her 11th and i say be done. the roots release their 10th and i say please don’t stop. it’s not even that i’m a huge roots fan, to be honest, i would just barely say i’m a fan. i only know like one of their albums semi-well at all, but what i do know is that they put out socially conscious rap, in the vein of a tribe called quest and de la soul and all those early 90s culturally relevant artists. that’s so lacking in today’s hip-hop. and musically, they’re light years more advanced than so many of the drum machine-philes in rap music today. and i’m inclined to be a supporter of anything ?uestlove has a hand in. more on him later.

19. al green – lay it down (5/27)
again, another oldie releasing somewhere around his 30th album. that’s insane. but i am absolutely amped about this one. this could very well be the first purchase i make once i get back into the states. what a great welcome home present. i’m psyched about this album because first of all, have you ever heard “let’s stay together”? one of the sexiest tunes i’ve ever heard. along with every other tune off let’s stay together, i’m still in love with you, and call me. al green’s voice just oozes soul and and production by ?uestlove, there is a 0.001% chance this album could flop. there is a much greater chance that this will be the best album by al green in decades, especially with ?uestlove saying, “we found the formula for getting the fireworks out of him.” watch out unsuspecting public.

29. jason mraz – we sing. we dance. we steal things. (5/13)
aside from the few moments when he mentions radio singles in his radio singles and ups the cheese factor, i really like jason mraz. dude’s got one of the best voices around, so smooth, and his arrangements are very often gorgeous. i’m holding out hope for another solid album from him.

35. coldplay – viva la vida or death and all his friends (6/17)
weird title. awesome band. this album could definitely go either way, especially when phrases like “broaden their palette” and “helping the band leave its comfort zone” are thrown around. but i’ve got faith in coldplay. they changed enough with each album since parachutes, i’m sure whatever they’ve got planned for this 4th album will be great.

39. weezer – weezer (6/17)
are you kidding me? ever since weezer’s self-titled debut (i really think a band should limit the number of albums after themselves, rather than THREE, which is half weezer’s catalogue.) in ’96, critics and fans alike have been waiting for them to release another one that would match the naive quality of that first one. they never have. and they’ve tried like seven times, and got close only once. this is a great example of another band that should’ve packed it in a long time ago. from rolling stone: “the probable first single, ‘pork and beans,’ was inspired by a record-company meeting where the band was told it needed to record more-commercial material. ‘i came out of it pretty angry,” [lead singer] cuomo says. ‘but ironically, it inspired me to write another song.'” rivers is angry because somebody doesn’t like his music and it inspires him to write more crap. what’s new.

43. n.e.r.d. – seeing sounds (6/10)
i can think of almost no better way to kick off a summer than a new n.e.r.d. record. especially one described as “auditory red bull” by producer/singer/musician extraordinaire pharrell williams. their last album fly or die was insanely good and was my summer ’04 album. it will be great to see if they pull it off again. i don’t have many doubts though. when chad huge and pharrell come together as producers and band members, magic happens. the 15 seconds or so that i’ve heard of the first single “everybody nose” is way different but sounds awesome. i’m excited.

56. ben folds – as-yet-untitled (august)
there’s hardly any information given about this new set from piano man ben folds, but that doesn’t matter. ben folds will deliver. whether it was with ben folds five, his first two solo albums, or his production credits on other people’s albums (see the great has been by william shatner.), ben folds does no musical wrong. it’ll be great to hear new stuff after nearly three years.

what a spring/summer huh? three albums i’m absolutely ecstatic about, and a couple others that will almost certainly be great, and then a few that’ll probably suck. what a powerhouse trio though for the summer, al green/coldplay/n.e.r.d. the summer cannot get here fast enough.


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