After a long Memorial Day weekend, the music industry is back in full swing with big-name releases from vets like Tift Merritt and Paul Weller, newcoming hit-makers like Taio Cruz, best-selling standybys like Clay Aiken and Jack Johnson and a World Cup album to get you set for soccer (sorry, football).
As previously reported, Stone Temple Pilots' self-title set -- released last week -- is expected to top the charts this week.
Clay Aiken, "Tried & True" (Decca) - This set marks the "American Idol" star's first for Decca, and with it a group of '50s and '60s covers of songs the star listened to as a child. These are tracks like "Unchained Melody," "Mack the Knice" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" intended to "stand the test of time" -- hence, tried and true. It features guests like David Sanborn, Linda Eder and Vince Gill.
Taio Cruz, "Rokstarr" (Mercury) - We spent a little time here to explain just who Taio Cruz is and why his track "Break Your Heart" went on to top the Hot 100 chart earlier this year. "Rokstarr" is his first album in the 'States and boasts his newer duet with Ke$ha, "Dirty Picture," of which we have a critique here.
Hawthorne Heights, "Skeletons" (Wind-up) - After a number of albums and struggles with Victory Records, this post-hardcore band has finally settled with Wind-up on this new effort, which features Micah Carli as the new screamer after the death of Casey Calvert. The first single "Nervous Breakdown" is still trying to make an impact on hard rock radio.
Jack Johnson, "To the Sea" (Brushfire) - Everyone knows by now what Jack Johnson sounds like: the island rhythms, the simple tangles of acoustic guitar melodies and the Hawaiian singer's smooth seas voice. Add a little electric guitar to the mix, with some more reggae-influenced tunes, and "To the Sea" is what you get.
The Melvins, "The Bride Screamed Murder" (Ipecac) - This is something like the sludgey metal and punk masters' 18th studio full-length release, the follow-up to 2008's "Nude with Boots" on longtime home Ipecac.
Tift Merritt, "See You on the Moon" (Fantasy/Concord) - Recorded with Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens, Bill Frisell), this Americana-hued singer songwriter had even more additional help from Jim James (My Morning Jacket, Monsters of Folk) and acclaimed pedal steel player Greg Leisz. It's a straight-forward singer-songwriter effort from this Grammy Award-nominated vet.
Sleigh Bells, "Treats" (N.E.E.T./Mom + Pop) - Sleigh Bells has already been released in digital-only format a few short weeks ago, but now listeners can take home the summertime magic of cheerleader-like chants, murky, distorted guitars and freak-out paced stage jams.
Various, "Listen Up! The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Album" (Epic) - We give you a full rundown here, but just know the official World Cup song from Shakira, consider contributions from Pitbull, R. Kelly and Matisyahu and ask yourself: What the heck is a mascot song? World Cup kicks off on June 11, by the way.
Paul Weller, "Wake Up the Nation" (Yep Roc) - This set marks the first time Weller has collaborated with his former Jam bandmate Bruce Foxton since 1982. Beyond that, contributions from Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine and Bev Bevan from The Move keep this rock effort -- Weller's 10th solo set -- interesting.