Blame it on a Bonnarroo hangover perhaps or the weak economy, but this week is one of the lightest new music release weeks in recent memory, rivaling the deserted graveyard that is the post holiday season. While next week promises an embarassment of indie riches, July 16th biggest highlights are a new platter from a barely known outside the indie set Americana band and a collaboration of production heavyweights Switch and Diplo. At the other end of the spectrum, the suits are pegging the week's sales figures on a new one from the Jonas Brothers. Yeah, it's a sad week for iTune afficiandos and big box store shoppers. That said, there are a couple of worthy re-issues on offer, with power pop legend, Big Star's #1 Record/Radio City being at the head of the class.
Major Lazer - Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do
Star remixer Diplo and M.I.A. producer Switch have teamed up for a heavily buzzed about collaboration in Major Lazer. The two creative forces merge reggae and dancehall with electronic beats and textures in a successful cross-genre experimentation. The end result is something like "digital dancehall".
Ha Ha Tonka - Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South
Ha Ha Tonka put out the finest roots rock record of 2007 with Buckle in the Bible Belt, which included such gospel-inflected barnburners as "St. Nick on the Fourth in a Fervor" that sounded instantly classic. These Missouri natives have a natural way with a pop hook and instinctive feeling for myriad forms of Southern music. Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South continues that trend, while being a quieter and more introspective record. Ha Ha Tonka is truly one of the best young bands in America.
Laura Izibor - Let the Truth Be Told
Laura Izibor is the latest in a long-line of fine new soul singers from the British Isles and the Emerald Isle. Izibor hails from Dublin and sings a poppy brand of classic R&B clearly influenced by Stevie Wonder. A further point of reference, the backing music is reminiscent of Northern Soul a la Motown, while the vocals are grounded south of the Mason Dixon line. Izibor belongson playlists right next to Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse and Estelle.
Jonas Brothers - Lines, Vines and Trying Times
Their new album is being touted as artistic growth and the label PR brags that the boys have even "incorporated horns" into some of the songs. Don't be fooled. This is the same dull corporate pop it always was. If it's pop you want and still want to respect yourself in the morning, save your cash for next week's God Help the Girl release, a jazzy pop project from Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian.
Other notable releases this week:
Big Star - #1 Record/Radio City
George Harrison - Let It Roll: The Songs of George Harrison
Incubus - Monuments and Melodies
Sarah Jarosz - Song Up in Her Head
Spinal Tap - Back from the Dead
Street Sweeper Social Club - Street Sweeper Social Club
Rhonda Vincent - Destination Life
The Wallflowers - Collected: 1996-2005
Hank Williams, Jr. - 127 Rose Avenue