Deftones | Saturday Night Wrist | Warner Bros. | The fact that Serj from A System of a Down and Dan “The Automator” Nakamura are both involved in this Deftones disc is either the best news I’ve heard in a while from the hard-rock camp or a very bad sign. Since Annie Hardy from Giant Drag also puts in a cameo, I’m betting on the former.
John Legend | Once Again | Columbia | Nobody was wondering who John Legend was when he won that Best New Artist Grammy. And it’s hard to imagine that with will.i.am back there’s going to be any falloff in this R&B singer’s smooth grooves.
My Chemical Romance | The Black Parade | Reprise | In a recent press conference, MCR frontman Gerard Way explained that he’d dyed his hair blond in order to get into the mind of a character that the band’s new album is based on — a character who “may have gone through chemotherapy.” Seems that method-acting class he took is paying off.
Sparta | Threes | Hollywood | So, last year Sparta guitarist Paul Hinojos left to join up with the Mars Volta, the other band who emerged from the ashes of At the Drive-In. Sparta countered by pilfering Engine Down/Denali guitarist Keeley Davis and are now said to be better than ever. Let the battles begin.
BREAKTHROUGH: No more decade-long waits for new albums from Lucinda Williams.
Meat Loaf | Bat Out of Hell III | Virgin | You gotta admit, when this guy finds a concept he likes, he sticks to it. He even got his old pal Jim Steinman to write a bunch of the tracks — which means that the disc won’t totally suck and that the two have finally settled their legal dispute over the rights to the name “Bat Out of Hell.” Guests include Bat Out of Hell producer Todd Rundgren, the Mötley Nikki Sixx, Queen’s Brian May, and Steve Vai.
Willie Nelson & The Cardinals | Songbird | Lost Highway | If the name of the back-up band is ringing a bell, that’s because they’re Ryan Adams’s boys. And they’re backing Nelson here because Ryan collaborated with the ponytailed one and even co-produced the disc. Now that’s something to write home about.
The Who | Endless Wire | Universal/Republic | Roger Daltrey can finally stop hosting hapless History Channel shows now that Pete Townshend has taken his Who back into the studio. It’s been almost a quarter-century since their last album, It’s Hard. So that should give Townshend plenty of songwriting fodder, right?
November and beyond
Modest Mouse | We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (Titanic) | Warner Bros. | Believe it or not, the unwieldy title isn’t even the strangest thing about the new Modest Mouse disc. Yes, Isaac Brock may be daring the world not to play his band’s new disc. But he’s also got former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr on board playing guitar. Now there’s a marriage made somewhere outside of Heaven.
Lucinda Williams | The Knowing | Lost Highway | Now that Neko Case has given Lucinda a little competition for queen of the alt-rock prom, Williams seems to have had a real songwriting breakthrough. No more decade-long waits for new albums. And she’s got Bill Frisell along to play guitar.