New This Week
  • Linda Ronstadt: Duets (Rhino) There’s probably a generation or two who’ll note Linda Ronstadt’s being admitted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and wonder exactly what the nice lady who made those orchestral albums with Nelson Riddle back in the ‘80s has to do with Kurt Cobain and Gene Simmons. I’m not sure this compilation of her duets answers that question—Frank Sinatra, Bette Midler, James Ingram and James Taylor aren’t exactly Chuck Berry’s misbegotten stepkids—but it illustrates Ronstadt’s spectacular skills both as a vocalist and, no less important, as an interpreter. Her rise to prominence in the ‘60s directly coincided with that of singer-songwriters like Dylan, who not only wrote great tunes but sang them, and her greatest skill was inhabiting the unique songs she chose to cover and very often making them her own. With a guest list of partners including those mentioned above as well as Don Henley, Dolly Parton, Aaron Neville, Emmylou Harris, and Ann Savoy, Duets is a

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  • Have a Happy Dio!

    Various Artists: Ronnie James Dio – This Is Your Life (Rhino) When all of music rushes by in a confusing blur, and this week’s superstar is next week’s has-been, there’s a certain comfort to be had in those musicians truly iconic—and boy, is that an overused term—in their genre. And so it is that the pint-sized, highly respected, golden-throated metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio, here in 1942 and gone in 2010, is in the public eye once more. This well-meaning tribute album, benefiting the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund, features an array of metal pals—Anthrax, Motorhead with Biff Byford, Metallica, Scorpions, and, wisely, a conspicuous pair of hot metal babes—and an album cover featuring their lovable horned wildebeest demon swinging a pair of chained maces. Does it rock? Sure! Does it roll? Of course! Does it make you want to watch a Saturday morning cartoon show called The Metal Gang & Sparky? You bet! In the rough ‘n’ tumble and sometimes snooty world of rock’n’roll,

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  • Shakira: Shakira. (RCA) Certainly more important than the fact that Colombian pop superstar Shakira has a brand new album out is the unexpected news that she has recently become the most popular person on Facebook on the entire planet—with over 86.2 million followers, according to a popular rewritten press release! Adds the tempestuous singer: “I always wanted to have a lot of friends, but never imagined it would be so many!” So let’s get real: Even if this brand new album features a huge array of spectacular collaborators—indeed, some of the most popular musicians in the world, including Rihanna, Blake Shelton and, very probably, a drummer—and Shakira has already sold over 60 million records worldwide, how on Earth could that possibly matter in light of the fact that aliens could unexpectedly land on this planet and steal her purely because she’s our most popular human? And even more intriguing—at least for those of us who dwell on the dark side—is that statistics such as these imply

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  • Fire Down Below!

    Certainly one of the most rejuvenating aspects of today’s pop music scene is the fact that even now—more than a half-century after the likes of Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley established the essential roots of rock ‘n’ roll—good stuff still keeps being made!

    Unfortunately, most of it resides in the candy rack at my neighborhood 7-11, right above the Reese’s Big Cups and those King Size Hershey’s Take 5s!

    That said, today’s music scene isn’t so bad, either!

    I like the stuff that has catchy rhythms, seductive melodies, unexpectedly sophisticated harmonies, and comes packaged with five dollar bills and pills that make you forget what year it is!

    Oh, wait, I meant to write that a year from now!

    Arcade Fire: Reflektor (Merge) In a stunning twist, one of pop music’s biggest and most critically acclaimed bands now return with a great new album that deserves to be similarly big and critically acclaimed! A rich, highly appealing double-CD set boasting a memorable cover photo of little-known

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  • Katy Bars The Door!

    Right around now is when it pays to be a music fan—or, more specifically, it’s when you pay to be a music fan!

    That’s sort of the idea!

    Between long-awaited releases by present-day superstars like Katy Perry, deluxe box sets featuring you & your parents’ favorite Van Morrison, and classic rehashing by perennials such as Tears For Fears, Donna Summer and Morrissey, there’s an entire world of legitimate holiday releases for you to purchase for yourself and for loved ones to keep the entire music industry afloat!

    On the other hand, these new electronic cigarettes certainly seem appealing, genuinely safe, and a novelty worth investigating!

    Why not buy one of everything to make sure you don’t miss out?

    Katy Perry: Prism (Capitol) Top pop star Katy Perry would appear to have everything! She’s got hits up the kazoo, she’s attractive as heck, she’s got superstar boyfriends left and right, and she’s got an entire committee of songwriting superstars who help her prepare the sort of material

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  • Readers who perhaps have paid scant attention to the latest in music trends—who have heard they might like Mumford & Sons, say, but aren’t quite sure there are any record stores left in which they might purchase their popular album—should be reassured by the familiar names topping this week’s new releases list!

    With the likes of Korn, Alter Bridge, and the new, improved Stone Temple Pilots—now featuring Chester Bennington of Linkin Park!—it’s almost as if nothing has changed, our government still continues to function, and you should really check out my page on MySpace!

    Additionally, this “rap” thing continues to flourish, youthful teen stars still shave their heads and lick metal objects in music videos, and Kenny Rogers is looking more spritely than ever!

    Yes, whoever said “you can’t go home again” long ago was clearly wrong, because—let’s be honest—he’s dead!

    Miley Cyrus: Bangerz (RCA) I suppose naming your album after the sort of drink they serve at Hooters—at least I think so,

    Read More »from Miley Cyrus: She Sings, Too!
  • As a thinking, feeling music fan who likes to think he’s completely at one with the current music scene, I’d like to offer up a recap of this past week’s major events!

    1)Badfinger are back in a big way thanks to a TV show everyone in the world but me watches!

    2)Miley Cyrus apparently likes pot enough to rave about it to the press--but clearly has never smoked it and then looked in the mirror while wearing her Minnie Mouse ears!

    3) The otherwise mellow and laidback Kanye West has proclaimed that he is the “No. 1 rock star on the planet” while strategically omitting the name of that planet!

    4) For kicks, the federal government has shut down!

    Hey, I’m still freaking out about that Miley thing!

    Justin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience – 2 Of 2 (RCA) I do indeed think you could make a case for drawing a generational line in the sand between those who think Justin Timberlake is, er, the bees knees, and those who think he is an entirely competent, serviceable vocalist with a questionable

    Read More »from Justin Timberlake’s Latest–And Nine Other Extraordinary New Albums!
  • Drake’s Progress!

    Those who don’t think this is the most exciting time ever in the history of pop music clearly weren’t watching the recent iHeartRadio festival--which in the course of two days offered up many of today’s biggest radio stars in a manner likely to go down in the annals of history as going down in the annals of history!

    Between you and me, all I really cared about was seeing Paul McCartney, Phoenix and Miley Cyrus—mainly because you never know what that zany post-teen heartthrob is going to do next!

    Sadly, though, she apparently sung—and didn’t offer up the tribute to Robert Stevenson’s 1957 film classic Old Yeller that those of us in the know had anticipated!

    Like most of us, I watched, enthused and excited about the current state of popular music, turned my computer off when it was over, and opened up my refrigerator to see what I had to eat! I noticed an unopened package of Al Fresco Sweet Apple Chicken Sausages, thought about Miley for a minute—I’m not sure why!—then sat down and

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  • As you may know, since we’re now in the post-Labor Day period of the year—when students, laden with parent-money, return to college and are looking to establish their credentials as hipsters by buying the best and most fashionable music, when the new TV season starts and everybody gears up to experience the year as a media event only now unfolding—this is when the big stuff arrives.

    So it would make sense that the week’s newest releases would lean toward the intellect-heavy, and away from the hormone-driven dancefloor beat fodder of the summer--and, indeed, most of them do.

    Thus as the festival season winds down—this weekend’s iHeartRadio fest and the upcoming Austin City Limits bash representing the remaining peak experiences—we are now offered a markedly credible batch of good stuff, most of which can be enjoyed not only on the physical level, but the cerebral, emotional and edible.

    Technology, which of course rules, always wins!

    Jack Johnson: From Here To Now To You (Brushfire)

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  • Nine Inch Nails It!

    Lately pop music might best be enjoyed as an all-at-once phenomenon.

    Forget about what’s happening now: Why not pick up the complete works of Harry Nilsson and Paul Simon for something of a song, all in preparation for the Q4 gift-giving season? How about new box sets profiling Bob Dylan’s Self Portrait, Van Morrison’s Moondance, or the Band’s Rock Of Ages, all in expanded form?

    And then there’s that pesky new stuff!

    It is indeed a conundrum. As good as the new Nine Inch Nails album might be, one suspects it—and Trent Reznor’s entire back catalog—will soon be available in similar boxed-set form within the next two years, likely a financial bargain, as the record industry continues its inimitable plunge to zero!

    Thus I suggest today’s youngest and brightest contemporary music fans simply stop buying new records, and instead catch up with all you’ve missed since 1955—at budget prices, while you can!—and simply buy some fine liquor, sit back, and listen!

    There’ll be plenty of time those

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Pagination

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