VIDEO: Wilco, "What Light" (from Sky Blue Sky)
Chances are, if you’re overjoyed at the news that ex-Cranberries frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan finally has a solo album out, you’re probably not going to be too excited by the news that Linkin Park have reemerged. Then again, there’s no accounting for taste.
Dungen, Tio Bitar (Kemado)
Don’t feel bad if you find yourself thinking of Tio Bitar (Swedish for “Ten Pieces”) as the sophomore album by the Swedish neo-psychedelic band Dungen. In truth, it’s their fifth. But it wasn’t until 2005 -- when Kemado released the band’s fourth album, 2004’s Ta Det Lugnt, here in the US -- that the Amerindie underground caught Dungen fever. The new disc doesn’t have quite so many long and winding tracks as its predecessor. But it’s every bit as twisted, and even harder in the rock department, as Dungen fans have come to expect.
Dolores O'Riordan, Are You Listening (Sanctuary)
It’s been over five years since Ireland’s Cranberries imploded, leaving frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan in position to launch a solo album. Instead she focused on family obligations until she was ready to hit the studio. Which may explain why she’s now signed to Sanctuary, a label that loves reviving spent careers. Youth was retained to produce the disc, which sounds an awful lot like the Cranberries on a new wave bender.
Linkin Park, Minutes to Midnight (Warner Bros.)
The last time these angst-ridden rap-rock fiends released a new album, Limp Bizkit were already beginning to sound spent. One massive ballad (“Numb”) and one folk-hop side-project smash (Fort Minor’s “Where’d You Go”) later, it’s no surprise that Linkin Park have opted for a more straightforwardly metal/hard-rock approach on Minutes to Midnight, a concept album of sorts based on the “Doomsday Clock” that’s adorned the cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since way back when the Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb. If by some miracle it fails to blow up the charts, it should at least help secure Linkin Park a place on the FBI’s terrorist watch list.
Rufus Wainwright, Release the Stars (Geffen)
No surprises here, unless you count the presence of Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant as the disc’s executive producer. But you gotta figure that this particular Wainwright was eventually going to run into Tennant in the studio. Reflecting both artists’ love for ornate pop productions, Release the Stars is one of those no-holds-barred studio creations with full-on choirs, a string section, and ornate orchestrations embellishing each and every piano chord.
Wilco, Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch)
Ever since he decided that Wilco weren’t going to be just another alt-country band staying true to their roots from one disc to the next, Jeff Tweedy’s been tweaking the Wilco formula quite successfully. This time, the majority of that tweaking comes courtesy of guitarist Nels Cline -- an avant guy who came out of the SST scene, has played some very out jazz, but who also knows his way around a twangy hook or two thanks to his tenure with the Geraldine Fibbers. Hard to say if Tweedy’s finally perfected the Wilco formula. But he seems to be getting closer and closer with each new album.