As the temperatures start to heat up, so do the releases. March 30 brings new albums from two superstars: Usher and Alan Jackson, as well as a releases from a number of proven hitmakers, including Erykah Badu and Barenaked Ladies, and a collection from fictional conjoined twins, Evelyn Evelyn.
Erykah Badu, “New Amerykah, Part ll: Return of the Ankh” (Universal Motown): Badu follows up 2008’s “Part l” with an album she calls more “emotional” and less “analytical” than its predecessor. It even features a banjo, for goodness’ sake.
Barenaked Ladies, “All in Good Time” (Raisin’/EMI): Still best known for its huge 1998 hit “One Week,” BNL’s stock in trade is catchy, clever pop that embeds itself in your brain. This is the first album since the departure of founding member Steven Page.
Black Francis, “NonStopErotik” (Crooked Vinyl): Alternative rock god Frank Black, best known as leader of seminal band The Pixies, releases his latest solo set that includes a cover of the Flying Burrito Brothers’ “Wheels.” He recorded the venture in Brookly, Los Angeles and London.
Evelyn Evelyn, “Evelyn, Evelyn” (Eleven): Fictional conjoined twins—the brainchildren of Jason Webley and the Dresden Dolls’ Amanda Palmer—release their first full set. If you want to meet the twins, you can buy an around-the-world adventure with them for $11,111,111 on their myspace page. The album also features the singing debut of Frances Bean Cobain, daughter of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love.
Alan Jackson, “Freight Train” (Sony Music Nashville): Country superstar traditionalist returns with a 12-song set including eight he penned. The album includes a duet with Lee Ann Womack on Vern Gosdin’s “Till the End.” First single, “It’s Just That Way” continues its climb up Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Will it become Jackson’s 35th No. 1 single? Too soon to tell.
Turin Brakes, “Outbursts” (Cooking Vinyl): Tasty British acoustic duo of Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian releases its first set for Cooking Vinyl.
Usher, “Raymond v. Raymond” (Jive): We’ve waited a hot minute for this R&B sensation’s follow up to 2008’s “Here I Stand” as the label tweaked the set. First single, “Papers,” no doubt inspired by Usher’s recent divorce, reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, although it peaked at No. 31 on the Billboard Hot 100. Usher is clearly feeling a little frisky on new single, “Lil Freak.” See the video here.