Jay Bennett | The Magnificent Defeat | Rykodisc | He’ll forever be known as the guy who, after lending his multi-instrumental talents to Wilco’s Yankee Foxtrot Hotel, was unceremoniously given the boot in the rockumentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart. And the title of his new solo disc would seem to concede defeat in the face of the critical juggernaut that is Jeff Tweedy. It’s bound to have some cool, rootsy hooks on it, though, as well as the song title “Replace You.” Ouch.
Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine | Silent Nightclub | Surfdog | Okay, so Richard Cheese’s Velveeta-smooth, smarmy nightclub renditions of familiar tunes by modern rockers cool and not (from Weezer and the White Stripes to Puddle of Mudd and Linkin Park) are sort of a bad party joke. But they are funny. And his “Rape Me” must rank among the most inappropriate covers ever.
Alan Jackson | Like Red on a Rose | Arista Nashville | No, this isn’t a misprint: blond bomber Alan Jackson somehow got Grammy-rich bluegrass star Alison Krauss — the real deal, as they say — to produce his terribly titled new album. The real question is . . . how bad can it actually be?
Janet Jackson | 20 Y.O. | Virgin | Yeah, like this Jackson even remembers her 20s . . . Actually, I’m pretty sure the “20” refers to the number of years it’s been since Michael’s sister shocked the world with the sexy dance moves of Control. And Jackson, who’s nothing if not a hit machine with a finely tuned sense of taste, celebrates by inviting Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis back into the production seat for what’s sure to be one of the biggest albums of the season.
The Lemonheads | Vagrant | Let the debates about that definite article be. (Evan Dando seems to have decided that this time it’s the Lemonheads.) Highlights include a guitar solo by J Mascis, a keyboard cameo by Garth Hudson, and the Descendents rhythm section of co-producer/drummer Bill Stevenson and bassist Karl Alvarez keeping the hooks tight and timely throughout. Prepare for the return of the Dando.
Dave Matthews Band | Fenway Park, Boston, MA, July 7-8, 2006 | DMB Live | For all of you who need a memento of those two days in July, there’s this four-CD box set. It’s a nice gesture, but they could have put more work into the title.
Mos Def | Tru3 Magic | Geffen | As good a rapper as he is, Mos Def’s true calling may be acting. But he’s got an A-list production team on board here to make sure that nobody thinks of him as an underground phenom anymore — from Pharrell Williams to Kanye West and Rich Harrison. He’s also got like three major films in the works.
OVERGROUND: Mos Def has an A-list production team on board for Tru3 Magic.
Scissor Sisters | Ta-Dah | Universal/Motown | The boys in the Sisters got Elton John to help them write one of their electro-pop dance gems on the eagerly awaited follow-up to their homonymous 2004 debut. It’s called “I Don’t Feel like Dancin’,” and I categorically don’t believe them.