Some albums to blow my money on… because I'm the only one still buying albums.

June 27th, 2008

On various message boards and music blogs people have been discussing the year’s best music for some time (especially now that 2008 is about half over). I’ve been quietly protesting this tendency to immediately categorize and rank music (or any other kind of art) as soon as it flies off the shelves. Instead, why not discover and enjoy the music on its own terms?

But I won’t be complaining, except for that preceding paragraph. Instead of getting nostalgic for the past six months (Vampire Weekend! Death Cab!) let’s look ahead to the future.

First, some predictions: More artists will follow Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want model of album distribution. Axl Rose — sorry, Guns N’ Roses — will not release “Chinese Democracy” this year and we’ll all enjoy a free Dr Pepper. More artists will release their album days after it is announced. Rising gas prices means higher ticket prices and expect Ticketmaster to add something like a “gas charge” on top of that. A major artist will forgo a traditional, physical album release entirely and put their new record out digitally. Myspace.com will loose influence and importance with young fans. C’mon… that’s so 2006.

But there’s also a lot of great music slated for 2008. Here’s some of what I’m looking forward to.

Beck’s new album, “Modern Guilt,” is produced by Gnarls Barkley’s Danger Mouse. Supposedly it’s a focused, ’60s inspired jaunt. The single underwhelmed, but I’ll still be there on July 8.

About a week ago The Hold Steady streamed its latest, “Stay Positive,” on its Myspace.com page. I’m happy to report it’s a worthy follow-up to 2006’s “Boys and Girls in America.” Besides, how can you resist a lyric like “In bar light, she looked all right/In daylight, she looked desperate/That’s all right I was desperate too”? I’m going to try and get the first pressing, with the bonus tracks on July 15.

I’m also curious to check out the untitled Nas album, also July 15. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding this one, which probably has more to do with the original, scrapped title. You know the one, Michael Richards’ favorite slur.

I loved last year’s Black Kidsdemo, I’m glad their album is finally coming out on July 22. But a title like “Partie Traumatic” give me pause. That “ie,” the extra “u” screams of pretension. Still, the strength of the redone single, “I’m Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You” is enough to forgive them.

“Who Killed Amanda Palmer?” might be my most anticipated album of the year. Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer’s solo outing started as just her and a piano, producer Ben Folds turned it into something else. Folds knows his way around a piano. If he could make William Shatner sound great, it’s pretty mind boggling to think about what he can do for someone like Palmer. I’ll find out Sept. 16.

Speaking of Ben Folds, word on the street (err… Internet) is he’s also got an album coming in September as well. It’s rumored to be called “Quest for Fire,” but I’ll believe that when I see it. I suspect Folds, my favorite recording artist, will push his album back, so as not to overshadow Palmer’s (he did the same with Shatner). But… Folds’ last album rocked about as hard as “I’m The One Who Wants To Be With You.” I’m nervous that he’s lost it. I hope he proves me wrong.

If he does, at least I’ve got Jack’s Mannequin, whose “The Glass Passenger” is also expected in September. Jack’s Mannequin, the more piano, less Warped new(er) band from Something Corporate front man Andrew McMahon seems to have the raw, early ’90s energy that embodied Folds’ earlier stuff.

There’s more, too. I doubt Dr. Dre will release his long awaited “Detox” album anytime soon, but I can hope. Speaking of Dre, what ever happened to Eminem? Supposedly he’s in the studio, working on an album that may or may not be called “King Mathers.” 2004’s “Encore” was a mess, but Slim Shady is due for a comeback.

In other white-guys-who-rap news, The Streets’ “Everything is Borrowed” is supposedly more peaceful and positive compared to his last album, but there’s no release date. Likewise, there’s no release date for Butch Walker’s “Sycamore Meadows” and Anathallo is supposedly shopping around “Canopy Glow” to some independent labels.

Dashboard Confessional doesn’t even have a title for his next album, but even if it’s not out any time soon, I’ll be waiting — it’s produced by Fountains of Wayne bassist/songwriter Adam Schlessinger. Schlessinger is pretty much a pop-music genius. He did the music for the new John Waters Broadway show “Cry Baby” and was nominated for an Oscar for writing the song “That Thing You Do!”

Oh, then there’s also this band called U2, which might have a new album in October.

Staff writer Josh Eiserike can be reached at 703-878-8072.


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