Spring is in full bloom and so are CD releases. We thought we'd write about all the hot releases coming this month, but there were so many coming out today alone, we had to quickly readjust and confine ourselves to this week's bounty. After a somewhat slow first part of the year, just like the weather, the release schedule is starting to heat up. Here's a quick look at some of the most interesting releases out today.
Ciara, "Fantasy Ride" (Jive): Fronted by singles "Never Ever" featuring Young Jeezy and "Love Sex Magic" featuring Justin Timberlake, R&B singer brings out all the big guns in an effort her to bring her back to the top of the charts, following 2006's "Ciara: the Evolution." We'll see if it helps. "Never Ever" stalled at No. 72 on Billboard's Hot 100 and "Love Sex Magic," even with Timberlake's magic touch, peaked at No. 10.
Ben Harper & Relentless7, "White Lies for Dark Times" (Virgin): We've already raved about this one. Harper switches it up with a new band and the results are electrifying. Conjuring the ghosts of such greats as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Harper and co. provide us with one of the best records of the year.
Chrisette Michele, "Epiphany" (Def Jam): Sultry R&B singer returns with second album, fresh off her Grammy win for best urban/alternative performance for "Be OK." Title track, written by Ne-Yo and Chuck Harmony, is a languorous salute to knowing what you want.
New York Dolls, "Cause I Sez So" (Atco/Rhino): Seminal glam rock band returns with two surviving members and reunites with Todd Rundgren, who produced the Dolls' 1973 debut. The set includes 11 new tracks and a remake of "Trash" from their first album.
Peaches, "I Feel Cream" (XL). What is there to say about Peaches other than you either dig her or you don't and we need artists like her who blend electronica and rock and are often about as subtle as a sledgehammer. (Remember, this is the artist whose driving, hypnotic "F*** the Pain Away" features a video of the Miss Piggy singing the song. Brilliantly warped.) Yes, the Berlin-based artist means "cream" just how you think she might in the CD name. Musically, the title track is a synthed-out cross between Donna Summer and Kate Bush.
The Smithereens, "The Smithereens Play Tommy" (E1): After their recreation of "Meet the Beatles," power-pop band returns with their reinvention of the Who's brilliant rock opera, 40 years after the original's release. I'm not sure we need this, but it's fun to hear Pat DiNunzio attempt to take on Roger Daltrey's nearly impossibly perfect vocals on such tracks as "I'm Free."
Elliott Yamin, "Fight for Love" (Hickory): Fifth season "American Idol" contestant returns with his second studio album (we're not counting his two holiday albums). Yamin reportedly recorded more than 30 songs, before winnowing the final selection down to 12 main tracks (there are bonus tracks for various editions). He worked with a number of top pop producers including Jermaine Dupri, Stargate and JR Rotem.
Yusuf, "Roadsinger (To Warm You Through the Night)" (A&M) : The artist formerly known as Cat Stevens returns with his second pop album in three years following a 25-year hiatus. Referencing his classic "Tea for the Tillerman," "Roadsinger" is a beautiful collection of songs about the state of our world delivered in his warm, comforting voice.