Beck | The Information | Interscope | In keeping with his program of bouncing back and forth between pop-song producer Nigel Godrich and those funky Dust Brothers, Beck’s in Godrich’s hands this time around. Expect all those nice little neo-psychedelic studio touches and songs with solid hooks and choruses.
Sleepy Brown | Mr. Brown | Virgin | He’s got the OutKast stamp of approval (that’s him on “So Fresh, So Clean”), and he’s got a lot of production credits to his name. So it’s time for Atlanta’s Sleepy Brown to hook up with some friends like the ubiquitous Pharrell Williams and Big Boi for, in the immortal words of Ron Wood, his “own record to make.”
Lindsey Buckingham | Under the Skin | Reprise | Don’t start ringing the reunion bells, but some of the guests here include Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. And just because the ’80s were like one long bad-hair day for Buckingham doesn’t mean that he didn’t write some of the finest Mac tunes of the Rumours era.
The Decemberists | The Crane Wife | Capitol | It’s the big major-label jump for Colin Meloy and his merry band of freak-folk rockers, but the song titles suggest that he hasn’t gotten any less obscure. I used to call allusions to Shakespeare and Japanese folk tales pretentious in the realm of rock and roll. No more. Meloy fights the good fight to keep his rock obscure even as he spends Capitol’s dollars, and I salute him for it.
Evanescence | The Open Door | A Wind-Up | With a first single titled “Call Me When You’re Sober,” how can you go wrong? I had no idea who these guys were when they won that Best New Artist Grammy, and I’m still not sure. In fact, I kind of like it that way.
The Dears | Gang of Losers | V2 | With ties to the whole Broken Social Scene crowd, Montreal’s the Dears are poised to be the next big indie thing out of Canada, or something like that. And there is something appealing in a Serge Gainsbourg sort of way about the crooning delivery of frontman Murray Lightburn.
Jet | Shine On | Atlantic | These Aussies were smart about their sophomore disc: they hooked up with A-list rock producer Dave Sardy again because he also knows how to write a hook or two himself. It’s clear they have no intention of being modern-rock one-hit wonders, and if the title of their first single — “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” — is any indication, they’ll come out swinging on Shine On. And I don’t mean swinging in the jazz sense.
The Killers | Sam's Town | Island | The Killers, on the other hand, brought in Flood and Alan Moulder to, uh, mold their eagerly awaited sophomore disc. Because they don’t just want another hit; they wanna be stars, like Sting or U2 or the Rapture.