Music Good, Snow Bad
New Releases to Keep You Warm This Spring

So here I am, sitting down to write the spring preview edition of Tuesday Morning, and I look outside, and it’s snowing. It’s fucking April, and it’s snowing, and I’m thinking to myself, given the first opportunity, I am so moving back down south.

The problem is, I have never been able to come up with a good, sound, environmental reason for snow. I mean, I understand how it happens – water is crystallized upon contact with lower temperatures, thereby blanketing the ground with millions of tiny white solid flakes – but I can’t figure out why it happens. Is there a single form of life on the planet that benefits from snow? Most of us burrow away from it, whether in the ground or in houses. Think of all the complicated preparations we go through before the snow arrives, and the number of animals that are killed outright because they get caught unawares in freezing blizzards.

This would all make more sense to me if snow served some purpose. I could say, “Well, sure, it’s a pain in the ass, but look at what it does for such and such, and how it improves so and so.” Snow improves nothing, contributes to nothing, and has no reason to exist beyond making me cold and irritable. I’m moving closer to the equator. You can keep your damn snow.

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Okay, despite what the thermometer says, spring has apparently sprung, and with it comes the quarterly look ahead at upcoming releases of note. I want to point out that this list doesn’t even pretend to be a comprehensive listing of new music through June. You can get that innumerable other places on the web. This is just a coming attractions sort of thing for the column, covering stuff I’m looking forward to and will be reviewing in this space. So don’t write me all angry and say, “Hey, the new A*Teens album is coming out, and you didn’t say anything about it!” Well, no shit, Sherlock, because they suck and I wouldn’t buy an A*Teens album even if all four members of the original ABBA came to my house and begged me.

In short, what follows is what I’m looking forward to (or dreading) for the next few months, and it’s quite a diverse slate. 2002 is finally starting to shape up. Here’s what I mean:

First, the next six volumes of the LivePhish series kick off the spring on April 16. I know I promised I’d get around to reviewing the first six before the next salvo came out, so that leaves me a week. I’ll do my best. Anyway, the new series has one major difference over the first one: rather than present just the complete concerts, the band has chosen to fill up the remaining disc space (and there always is about half an hour of space left over) with “philler,” meaning tunes from other shows. According to the track listings, they’ve been good about making sure the philler shows are pretty close date-wise to the featured shows, so each set still provides a snapshot of a certain time period in the band’s history. Not sure how I feel about this yet.

Anyway, Sheryl Crow also returns on the 16th with the atrociously titled C’mon C’mon, before the floodgates open on April 23. A quick note – most of the new releases through June have had numerous release dates already, and while I’m pretty sure that what I’m presenting is the latest info, it’s entirely possible that any and all of these dates will have changed by the time this gets posted. One thing that hasn’t changed is that April 23 seems like the dumping ground for a bunch of cool stuff. First and foremost, Elvis Costello strikes back with When I Was Cruel, his first rock album since 1994’s Brutal Youth. As much as I dig his more orchestrated experiments, his stripped-down, angry stuff always resonates more.

Also on the 23rd is Wilco’s long-delayed Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which is getting some very impressive advance notices. Hope it lives up to its reputation as an artistic milestone for the band. Tuatara, the supergroup featuring Peter Buck of R.E.M., drops their third, Cinemathique, on the 23rd as well. Plus, the Pet Shop Boys (shut up, I’m a fan) release Release, featuring Johnny Marr on a bunch of tracks, and if the advance reviews are to be believed, Q-Tip (of A Tribe Called Qwest) redefines rap with some jazz fusion on Kamaal: The Abstract. A couple of cool rereleases round off the date: Pete Yorn delivers a 2-CD version of his acclaimed debut Musicforthemorningafter, and Sloan’s Pretty Together (which landed on last year’s Top 10 List) gets a proper U.S. release on RCA.

Moving on, Phish’s Trey Anastasio releases his self-titled solo debut on April 30. Also scheduled for that date is Weezer’s fourth, Maladroit, even though by all accounts the band hasn’t even delivered the album to their record company yet. We shall see…

May 7 sees some good ones from old people, as Warren Zevon comes out with his umpteenth record, My Ride’s Here, and Tom Waits drops two apparently distinct new albums, Alice and Blood Money, that reportedly break new ground for this quirky genius. Waits is definitely an acquired taste, but once you’ve acquired it, anything he’s done is worth hearing.

Speaking of old people, Canadian trio Rush returns on May 14 with Vapour Trails, their first album since 1996’s Test For Echo. No word yet on whether this is the same album they’ve already released 20 times. Also on May 14 is Moby’s long-awaited follow-up to 1999’s Play, which he still gets royalty checks for each and every month. The album’s called 18, which Moby explains is because it has 18 songs on it. If you’ve heard the boring single, “We Are All Made of Stars,” you probably agree that it should have been called 17. Again, we shall see. Finally on the 14th, if you missed the first four Cranberries records, and you just can’t live without Dolores “Please Slap Me” O’Riordan’s caterwauling, and you’ve been dreaming of the day when you can pay through the nose for an expensive set collecting all four, well, mark your calendar, ’cause Treasure Box is the answer to your prayers.

Neil Finn gets his shot at the elusive U.S. audience with the stateside release of his solo album One Nil, retitled One All for no reason I can think of, on May 21. And that’s it for May.

June begins with the many-times-delayed release of Me’Shell NdegeoCello’s fourth album, Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape on the 4th. The following week should see Korn returning to infect the masses with Untouchables, as well as promising new ones from Bruce Hornsby (Big Swing Face), David Bowie (Heathen, the first release on his private indy label) and Our Lady Peace (Gravity). Despite my critical drubbing upon first hearing it, Our Lady Peace’s last album, Spiritual Machines, nearly cracked the Top 10 List last year, so effectively did it grow on me. I’m looking forward to the new one.

June 18 likely sees the third album by everyone’s favorite controversy magnet, Eminem. Called The Eminem Show, this record apparently completes the trilogy begun by The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP, giving the final of his three personalities his time in the spotlight. I say “likely” because the release date has changed twice in the last three weeks, so who knows. Also on the 18th, Wyclef Jean finally releases The Masquerade, his third solo album.

Finally, the rock returns on June 25 with Soulfly’s third album, Enterfaith, and the second solo disc from Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell, Degradation Trip. And that’s all I know, except for this: sometime this summer, Radiohead is preparing to release an album of b-sides from the Kid A and Amnesiac sessions. I can’t think of an album I’m looking forward to less. Considering how bad the songs that made it to both those albums are, imagine how jaw-droppingly awful the songs that didn’t make the cut must be. If I listen to this, it will be in that “Oh wow, look at that car crash” way. Every time I think they can’t possibly further betray their potential, they come up with something to surprise me.

And that’ll do it. Look for the Phish reviews next week, if I’m feeling inspired. If not, look for more meaningless, mindless drivel.

See you in line Tuesday morning.