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Big business

The majors gear up for a promising spring
By MATT ASHARE  |  March 10, 2006

WHOLE LOTTA ’TUDE: Expect less screaming and more singing from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O on Show Your Bones.Now that the music biz has licked its wounds from a nasty 2005, things are finally starting to heat up, and an indie-heavy winter is giving way to a more major spring. What’s more, those majors seem finally to have grasped the importance of downloads as promotional tools. The Yeah Yeah YeahsShow Your Bones (Interscope) is not out until March 28, but they’ve already released an iTunes exclusive single — “Gold Lion”/“Let Me Know” — that suggests we’ll have some big, serrated guitars and muscular drums to buoy a whole lot of attitude from a less-screaming/more-singing Karen O. And it’s good news for Capitol that the Vines were able to get it together for an album. Back when it was learned the erratic behavior of frontman Craig Nicholls was indeed due to Asperger’s Syndrome, a neurobiological disorder similar to autism, the future didn’t look too bright for these Aussie Nirvanaphiles. Don’t expect a tour, but Vision Valley is set for release April 4.

I’m predicting a Morrissey renaissance now that indie folk have realized that Belle and Sebastian hero Stuart Murdoch has been trying to sing like the former Smiths frontman all along. Moz’s iTunes exclusive “You Have Killed Me” sets things up nicely for the release of the equally hilariously titled Ringleader of the Tormentors (Attack/Sanctuary) April 4. Meanwhile, if Modest Mouse can score a hit with a song that sounds like Built To Spill, shouldn’t Built To Spill also have a shot? You in Reverse hits stores April 11 on Warner Bros. And maybe it’s time for the Flaming Lips to have another hit. At War with the Mystics (Warner Bros.) reaches stores April 4 in two editions. Spring for the deluxe pressing, which includes some kind of enhanced DVD. If ever there was an outfit meant for the multimedia age, the Lips are it.

Reprise can count on moving plenty of units of My Chemical Romance’s album/DVD Live on the Murder Scene (March 21). And after a little more label hopping, Prince is gearing up for his most promising album in years, 3121 (Universal; March 21). In fact, he’s already shot a big-budget Salma Hayek–directed video for the first single, “Te Amo Corazón.”

It was former Marilyn Manson guitarist John 5 who coaxed Rob Zombie back into the studio: his first new album since 2001, Educated Horses (Geffen), hits stores March 28. Then there’s the Goo Goo Dolls, who hooked up with Glen Ballard, the last refuge of irrelevant modern-rock artists, for Let Love In (Warner Bros.). And we thought the Goos had gone away for good. Same with Live: we didn’t ask for it, we’re not condoning it, but Ed with the unpronounceable last name reconvened the band for Songs from Black Mountain (Epic). Originally due last November, it’s been fixed and prepped for an April 11 release.

On the R&B front: John Legend’s Grammy night has soul man Van Hunt poised for a big year. The ’70s-styled singer releases On the Jungle Floor (Capitol) April 4. Pink, on the other hand, can swing both ways: she does dance-floor allure and rock attitude. The title of her I’m Not Dead (LaFace; April 4) suggests she’ll be in rock mode this time around.

It’s not going to be a bad season for the indies, either. Loose Fur’s Born in the U.S.A. (Drag City) arrives on March 21, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy exorcizing his more avant demons with Jim O’Rourke and Glenn Kotche. The keyb-and-drums duo Mates of State have Bring It Back coming out March 21 courtesy of Barsuk, the label that will forever be associated with Death Cab for Cutie. And Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss has been busy helping her multi-talented multi-instrumental ex-husband Sam Coomes record another Quasi album, When the Going Gets Dark (Touch and Go; March, 21).

Look for three big local releases. The Dresden Dolls could have had anyone helm their Yes, Virginia (Roadrunner; April 11). But they stuck with who brought them: local producer Paul Q. Kolderie. Godsmack deliver a new studio album April 25, IV (Republic/Universal). Things get cool again May 9 with Mission of Burma’s eagerly awaited The Obliterati (Matador).

Leave it to punk stalwarts NOFX to come up with yet another brilliant album title: Wolf in Wolves’ Clothing (Fat Wreck Chords; April 18). And Queens of the Stone Age mastermind Josh Homme reconvened his other band, Eagles of Death Metal, for Death by Sexy (Downtown; April 11), which includes cameos by Screaming Tree Mark Lanegan and Distiller doll Brody Dalle. Homme’s buddy Dave Grohl has been busy reliving his punk past with Rye Coalition, who were recovering from an ill-fated signing to DreamWorks when he jumped in to produce their Curses (Gern Blandsten; April 18).

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