BOYS BEING BOYS: Chili Pepper guitarist John Frusciante contributed to the new prog-metal epic from the Mars Volta.
The game is on for the reunited SPICE GIRLS. After a string of almost 20 January shows in the UK, they arrive Stateside to kick things off at TD Banknorth Garden on January 30. To go along with the tour comes a not-so-new Greatest Hits (Virgin) disc (with two new tunes) that had limited release in November. The album gets a wider, multi-format release on January 15, as both a CD and a four-disc box set featuring a remix collection, a DVD, and a “Karaoke Collection.”
A few other promising major-label discs are hitting the racks in early-’08, starting on the 8th with the US release of the 2007 debut by Brit songstress KATE NASH. Her Made of Bricks (Geffen) made her a tabloid star on her home turf. But her electro-organic dream-pop will get some competition from known quantity SIA, the Zero 7 chanteuse whose “Breathe Me” was chosen for the final scene of HBO’s Six Feet Under. Her new Some People Have Real Problems is on Hear Music and coming to your neighborhood Starbucks soon.
As for the boys, San Diego garage-glammers LOUIS XIV are gearing up for their second Atlantic disc, Slick Dogs and Ponies, which adds some strings to their gritty, guitar-based rock. That album hits stores on January 29, just in time to butt heads with The Bedlam In Goliath (Universal), the new MARS VOLTA prog-metal epic, produced by guitarist Omar Rodriguez Lopez and featuring extra guitar work by Chili Pepper John Frusciante. But the wild card on the 29th is Scream, Aim Fire (Jive), the sophomore disc by BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE, the South Wales metalcore foursome who nearly scored an RIAA gold certification for their 2005 Sony debut The Poison.
Topping the indie list in January is the next installment from the prolific Stephin Merritt, this time in his MAGNETIC FIELDS guise. Like his last few solo CDs, the January 15 album is said to reflect in sound its one-word title, Distortion (Nonesuch). So, although it’s heavy on piano, Merritt promises “feedback-piano” in homage to white-noise shoegazers the Jesus and Mary Chain. Meanwhile, fellow NYC indie transplant CAT POWER has a second album of cover tunes, Jukebox (Matador, January 22). The 12-track disc includes one new original, a reworking of her own “Metal Heart,” and interpretations of everything from Billie Holiday’s “Don’t Explain” to Creedence’s “Fortunate Son” to Dylan’s “I Believe in You” to, yes, James Brown’s “Lost Someone.” And Guided By Voices main man ROBERT POLLARD has been collaborating with his old GbV bandmates — Tobin Sprout, Doug Gillard, and Mitch Mitchell, as well as his non-touring brother Jim Pollard — for his new Superman Was a Rocker (Happy Jack Rock, January 29).
Mark Oliver Everett (a/k/a E) doesn’t have a new EELS disc ready. But after 10 years, he’s put together Meet the Eels: Essential Eels 1996–2006,Vol. 1 (Geffen, January 15), a set that comes in two versions — a two-disc CD/DVD set, and a three-disc set with two CDs and a DVD. It follows the band from the quirky, Beckian pop of 1996’s Beautiul Freak up to E’s recent orchestral recordings. And, while we’re on the subject of orch-pop, ERIC MATTHEWS, the singer/songwriter who helped define the genre back when he was in Cardinal in the early-’90s, remains on the comeback trail with The Imagination State (Empyrean, January 22).
For the roots inclined, both the DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS and NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS have new discs coming out January 22. The former, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark (New West), is an epic, 19-song, 75-minute celebration of gritty guitars. The latter, Hernando, introduces the Allstars’ new Sounds of the South label and celebrates the Mississippi hill-country blues that the band learned at the feet of R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. There’s also a newish face on the Americana scene: guitarist TYLER RAMSEY, recruited to play guitar in Band of Horses, steps out with A Long Dream About Swimming (Echo Mountain, January 15), a disc that digs deep into rural North Carolina roots.
Death Cab for Cutie guitarist CHRIS WALLA is also stepping into the spotlight with Field Manual (Barsuk, January 29). January also brings Springsteen-style rockers MARAH, with Angels of Destruction (Yep Roc, January 8); Reverend Horton Heat’s new, self-explanatory REVEREND ORGANDRUM project’s Hammond-heavy homonymous Yep Roc disc (January 8); JOE JACKSON, who sticks to rocking out on Rain (Rykodisc, January 29); and heartache queen SHELBY LYNNE’s Just A Little Lovin’ (Lost Highway, January 29), a collection of Dusty Springfield covers. Coincidentally, her sister ALLISON MOORER’s Mockingbird (New Line, February 19) is also a covers collection, featuring tunes by other female artists, including Cat Power, Nina Simone, and Patti Smith.
Things get busier in February. Rapper AZ has his new Undeniable (Koch February 5), followed the next week by the recently incarcerated FOXY BROWN’s Brooklyn’s Don Diva (Koch, February 12). And West Coast hardcore rapper KEAK DA SNEAK has Deify (Broke City) set for a February 19 release, the same day the big man from Miami, 300-pound rapper RICK ROSS, drops his Trilla (Def Jam).