My Head Hurts
Big List! New Music! Go!

I have a migraine headache today that I just made a whole bunch worse by running three miles on a treadmill, so this one’s going to be kind of brief. I have a very small window of clarity here before my Advil wears off and the dull pain magically transforms into an army of jackhammers chipping away at the inside of my skull, so let’s get to it.

I’m also not quite ready to review any new music this time. I planned on discussing the intriguing, embarrassing new Madonna album, American Life, but it’s so much different than what I expected that I think I need a few more days with it to formulate my thoughts. I also haven’t made it all the way through the new Fleetwood Mac, Say You Will, because it’s 76 freaking minutes long. What I’ve heard, I like, but I can’t very well fill a whole column with scattered impressions on the album’s first half.

Additionally, I’m having a bit of trouble downloading Wilco’s More Like the Moon EP, which the band made available at their website this week. It figures that I’d have no difficulty illegally downloading early mixes of the forthcoming Radiohead album, but when it comes to obtaining music Wilco actually wants me to hear, I’m at a loss. Next week, perhaps.

So what does that leave for this time? Well, I’ve noticed that I’ve kind of fallen away from my previous tradition of updating you all four times a year on upcoming releases, and we’ve got a ton of them coming up, so I figured I’d just do that. If you’re disappointed, I don’t blame you, but see above re: army of jackhammers, shut the hell up and leave me alone. I’ll be better next week.

Until then, here’s the skinny on new music for the spring and early summer:

Next week sees the release of Plasma, a live compilation from Trey Anastasio, lead voice and guitar for Phish. Trey did a successful solo tour last year, and the results push these two CDs to their maximum length limits. Much like his self-titled solo record, Trey live is reportedly jazzier than Phish, with nifty horn and saxophone improvs. Sounds cool.

Also next week is the new Violet Burning album, This Is the Moment, but only if you’re registered with Northern Records. Members have already begun receiving their copies of the long-awaited disc, but the rest of the general public won’t get theirs until June. The good news is, I’m a member, and I should be getting a package with that album and Wayne Everett’s (Prayer Chain, Lassie Foundation) solo debut sometime soon. The Violets album is apparently poppier and less melodramatic than previous releases, but still retains the band’s feel and edge. Yay.

May 6 brings us Blur’s new one, Think Tank, which advance reviews have called so disjointed that it practically falls apart while you’re listening to it. Can’t tell yet if that’s a good thing. Richard Thompson also returns on the 6th with The Old Kit Bag, which came out in the U.K. a while ago. Thompson is the British guitar player that makes Eric Clapton sound like the aging lite-FM geezer he is, despite his being roughly the same age. If there were any justice in the world, Thompson and Clapton would have exchanged fanbases decades ago.

Not much on the 13th, just Marilyn Manson’s The Golden Age of Grotesque. On a related topic, one of my favorite moments of Bowling for Columbine was Manson’s response when Michael Moore asked him what he would say to the students of Columbine High School. “I wouldn’t say a thing to them,” he replied. “I’d listen to what they had to say, which is what no one did.” A perfect answer.

Anyway, May 20 is going to be hell on the ol’ checkbook. Starflyer 59 unleashes Old, their seventh full-length, and we’ll see the return of Live (Birds of Pray), King’s X (Black Like Sunday) and John Mellencamp (Trouble No More, a self-described American roots album. So what’s the rest of his catalog, then?). Plus, a ragged pop supergroup called the Thorns releases their first album, which is interesting because the Thorns are Matthew Sweet, Shawn Mullins and Pete Droge.

But I’ve saved the best for last – a new album on May 20 from one of the planet’s true geniuses. That’s right, I’m talking about “Weird Al” Yankovic, who drops his 11th (11th!) slab of funny, titled Poodle Hat. More than that I don’t know, but how can you pass this one up?

May concludes with a three-CD live album from Led Zeppelin on the 27th. Called How the West Was Won, this set is designed to take the place of the soundtrack for The Song Remains the Same, with which the band was never happy, as the definitive live Zep recording. And yes, it includes a 30-minutes-plus rendition of “Dazed and Confused.” With the violin bow.

June gets off to a good start with a packed-to-the-gills 3rd. New ones are scheduled to appear from Bruce Cockburn (You’ve Never Seen Everything), Eels (the delightfully titled Shootenanny!), Guster (the about-damn-time Keep It Together) and Jewel (the cryptically named 0304). Plus, Mainers 6gig pay tribute to their late drummer Dave Rankin by releasing the album he helped them create in his final year, Mind Over Mind. Really looking forward to that one.

June 10 sees the new Metallica, St. Anger, which, if you believe in karma, is probably already available for illegal and Lars-enraging download online. But unless you buy the CD, you won’t get the bonus DVD that comes with it, featuring the band playing all the songs from the album live. Until, that is, the DVD content becomes available for illegal and Lars-enraging download online. Your choice, then.

Speaking of illegal downloads, Radiohead’s real version of Hail to the Thief also hits on the 10th, as well as the new Grandaddy, called Sumday. But enough about Radiohead wannabes, let’s go back to talking about Radiohead. I read a couple of unconfirmed reports that Thief will come packaged with an interesting extra – a bonus CD containing a complete re-recording of their debut, Pablo Honey. It’s no secret the band has always hated the way that album turned out, so if this is true, it will be a most interesting listen. Sort of like time travel.

Anyway, the new Type O Negative, out on June 17, is called Life Is Killing Me, and if you’re right now nodding your head and saying, “Of course it is,” then you must be familiar with this band. Expect long, droning oceans of despair, all delivered with tongue firmly in cheek. June 24 sees the new Delerium, called Chimera, which features return engagements with some of their most successful vocal collaborators, including Matthew Sweet. Yaay!

And the farthest my crystal ball can currently see is July 8, when Outkast releases two albums in one case, called Speaker Boxx/The Love Below. Basically, Big Boi and Dre decided to do solo albums, but they both liked the other’s record so much that they agreed to release them together as an Outkast project. Pretty neat. They have yet to release a bad record, and they’re one of the few rap acts (De La Soul is almost the only other one) in whom I have complete faith.

Oh, and one more little tidbit. Sometime before the end of the year, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, who are collectively known as Tears for Fears, will release Everyone Loves a Happy Ending, their first album together since The Seeds of Love in 1989. (I’ve just watched Donnie Darko again for the 400th time, a movie that always gets me thinking about Tears for Fears.) Considering how good Orzabal’s solo album was, this should be pretty cool.

And that should do it. Happy spending, but don’t forget to wait for someone like me to tell you what to think before you buy. We wouldn’t want you all just checking out new music willy-nilly, would we? You might find something you like, on your own, which would completely invalidate my existence. So don’t do that. But if you do, write me and tell me about it, ‘kay?

Next week, the stuff I should have reviewed this week. I’m going to bed now, because the guys with the jackhammers have started pounding away at my cranium. And they’re not union and they don’t take breaks.


See you in line Tuesday morning.