Third records abound this week, as several key newcomers from the past few years all converge upon the second week of October attempting to grab hold of our attention and respect. I fully expect no fewer than one of these records to stand among the entire year’s best; let’s see how the rest of them stack up in kind.


Following the (for them, anyway) breakneck triumph that was Viva La Vida — it only took those silly fools of Coldplay four tries to make a (more or less) cohesive album! — all eyes fall this week to fellow British band Keane to see how they’ll respond.  Their first album, 2004’s Hopes and Fears, went platinum on the blazing strength of its two terrific singles, “Somewhere Only We Know” and “Everybody’s Changing”; 2006’s follow-up disc Under the Iron Sea stumbled a bit despite its blistering rock radio smash “Is It Any Wonder?,” which almost made me believe I’d side with Keane’s lead singer Tom Chaplin over that doofus Chris Martin in a karaoke duel.  Coming off of Chaplin’s shockingly pitch-perfect remake of “Under Pressure” (on which he literally seems to be channeling David Bowie!) for an EP late last year comes Keane’s third record, Perfect Symmetry.  The set’s leadoff single, the hard-driving “Spiralling,” holds a much grittier sound — perhaps even menacing — than anything we’ve heard from these guys heretofore, which is mighty fine by me, particularly considering their rivals in Coldplay have essentially been writing the same frickin’ song for ten years or better.  Watch out for this one; it could well be the sleeper of the fall.

She hovered beneath the radar for years (winning vital early support from fellow maverick Mary Chapin Carpenter, who transformed her song “Passionate Kisses” into an unlikely singalong megahit), until her Grammy-winning masterwork Car Wheels on a Gravel Road rocketed her to the big time a decade ago. The ensuing span of time has been a prolific one for Lucinda Williams, although it’s more than fair to note that nothing she has composed in the meantime has come close to matching the raw exciting power of “2 Kool 2 B Forgotten” or “I Lost It,” Road‘s key tracks. Williams is back this week with her ninth studio album, Little Honey

Thanks to a massively successful advertising campaign spearheaded by ABC Daytime which was designed to draw attention to its flagging lineup of soaps (and which was set to her deliriously funky debut single from the turn of the decade, “Everybody Got Their Something”), the fabulous Nikka Costa‘s profile has never been higher.  She marches to the beat of her own drummer, no question about it, but she’s a fiery, brilliant soul goddess, and when she’s on her game, you can’t hardly match the nervy, intoxicating eroticism of her ballsy delivery.  Costa’s third album (and first for the legendary Stax label, which has just been relaunched with the help of one Justin Timberlake), Pebble to a Pearl, arrives this week.

A mysterious throat malady derailed his momentum, but one of country music’s brightest new stars is back this week with his third record.  Led by the hot single “Don’t,” Billy Currington‘s Little Bit of Everything contains touches of all the genres he loves, all funneled into a package that is distinctively crunchy.  His singularly sexy breakthrough “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” made Currington one to watch; here’s hoping Everything cashes in on that promise.

A lineup of true all-stars, including Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez, Dolly Parton, Rufus Wainwright, the irreplaceably divine Bernadette Peters (whose profile has been way too slim of late), and the peerless Shawn Colvin (whose take on “Secret Gardens” is sure to be spine-tingling) come together to pay tribute to one of the finest and most enduring artists in the history of music with this week’s spectacular new collection
Born to the Breed: A Tribute to Judy Collins.  Though her work was often overshadowed by that of her compatriot Joni Mitchell (multiple songs of whose — most notably “Both Sides Now” — she has covered to great effect), Collins shared with Mitchell a similar career path:  folk pioneers in the sixties, devastating torch singers in the seventies (Collins’ is the definitive take on “Send in the Clowns,” and all you Barbra lovers out there can quote me on that), and bold experimentalists into the eighties and beyond.  And as is evidenced by this sterling set, not many discographies can boast this level of dynamic breadth.

The irresistible, horn-drenched leadoff single “You Are the Best Thing” (whose numerous virtues the Buzz happily extolled here) is racing up the charts at triple-A radio, and the looooooong wait for the full album ends at last this week with the arrival of Gossip in the Grain, the hotly-anticipated third record from the musical pride of Maine, the adorably lovely Ray LaMontagne.  I’ve already droned on and on about my unabashed love for this man and his warm, husky tenor, so I’ll just say this:  I cannot wait to hear the rest of this album, and if it’s anywhere near as brilliant as the two that precede it in his canon, we’re all in for one monstrous hell of a glorious listening experience here. Counting the minutes, I kid you not.

Also noteworthy this week:


  • Ah, the wonders of modern technology: a host of country superstars, from Wynonna to Carrie Underwood to Martina McBride, team up with the King for a “new” collection of classic carols in Elvis Presley Christmas Duets.

  • Queen Latifah’s deeply felt cover of “Poetry Man” last year reminded us of just how truly gifted (and underappreciated) was a lady name of Phoebe Snow, who holds forth this week with a new Live album, recorded in July in Woodstock, NY.

  • A full decade after brilliantly reinventing himself for the the new millenium’s pop youth (oh, and sweeping the Grammys for his trouble), Carlos Santana makes a return to his roots with the new double-disc mix of instrumentals and vocal set pieces, Multi-Dimensional Warrior.

  • It didn’t do much for me, but the cultural buzz around
    Ingrid Michaelson‘s severely indie debut disc was quite striking.
    She follows it up this week with her sophomore outing, Be OK.

  • Having recently jumped labels (from small-time Equity to A-list Capitol Nashville), Little Big Town have decided to relaunch A Place to Land, their gorgeous third album that got lost in the shuffle upon its initial release last fall. Land now contains four bonus tracks, including — because, let’s face it, it can never appear on too many discs — their soul-shattering collaboration with Sugarland covering Dream Academy’s “Life in a Northern Town.”

  • Having made incredible behind the scenes contributions to the likes of Roy Orbison, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, and the Eagles, he was the unsung hero of the ’70s music scene, and after a twenty-five year absence, Amarillo native J.D. Souther is back in bidness with If the World Was You.


7 responses to “shouldn’t i have this, shouldn’t i have this,
shouldn’t i have all of this, and…?
(or: october 14 — a thumbnail sketch)”

  1. the buzz from Chip:

    Well, I think Glynis Johns actually has the definitive take on “Send in the Clowns.” 😉

  2. the buzz from brandon:

    Umm, no.

  3. the buzz from A.:

    I had hoped that this otherwise-fine Record Store Report would mention that today also marks the beginning of the second season of the TV series Eli Stone, which the Buzz and I praised just last month. While the Buzz (perhaps joining other critics) was not especially fond of tonight’s premiere — I am told not least because George Michael (and not even “the other guy from Wham!”) was not there — I was genuinely intrigued and I eagerly await the next episode.

    My main criticism is that tonight the “the sense of the divine” was overdone (or, if you will, oversimplified, overexplained, etc.) so much so that virtually all the mystery has been lifted. Despite that nontrivial shortcoming, all the other components of this show came together beautifully: the initial musical number with Loretta Divine in the lead, the plot (once again combining human drama and real-world events), the return of the rest of the characters (most notably Jordan Wethersby — I can only hope to gain his integrity and honor in my career), and even the script (there were at least a few notable quotes!). How can you not be curious about what happens next?! Who knows, perhaps George Michael will be back eventually!

    Finally, with a shout-out to both the show and to a few people out there (y’all know who you are!), I think we should all think about hiring a fiduciary.

  4. the buzz from Chip:

    Umm, no? Sondheim specifically wrote it with Johns’ voice (and vocal limitations) in mind. That’s why all or almost all of the lines end on a consonant — because she couldn’t hold out a note like a line ending in a vowel would require.

    And yes, I realize how very gay having that knowledge makes me.

  5. the buzz from brandon:

    So, I was watching the season premiere of “Eli Stone” last night, and by the midway point, I was so bored silly that I flipped over to SoapNet and caught the last half-hour of the “General Hospital” rerun. While I continue to find Jonny Lee Miller enchanting as the title character (to say nothing of the stellar supporting turns by Victor Garber and Loretta Devine), all of the fun of the series’ sparkling first season was the idea that it was built around George Michael’s discography. (Every episode contained a performance of a Michael track, and every episode was titled after said track.) With that brilliant hook now gone (for reasons that have yet to be made clear by the series’ creative team), the show — at least in its second season’s first installment — floundered around like a confused carp, suffering from a complete lack of focus. It’s a shame, too, because this cast deserves (and has been given) infinitely better material.

  6. the buzz from brandon:

    Laying aside the fact that I admire the hell out of the fact that you actually know all that trivia, I don’t give a flying fig whose voice Sondheim had in mind when he wrote “Send in the Clowns,” Chip. All I care about is, Judy Collins sings the living hell out of that brilliant song, and hers is far and away the essential version.

    Sir, Leonard Cohen wrote “Hallelujah” with his own voice in mind, but that didn’t stop Jeff Buckley from boldly stealing it right the hell out from underneath him. Recognize.

  7. the buzz from A.:

    Well, there’s quite a bit more to Eli Stone than George Michael! I firmly believe that the show can stand on its own without that “hook.” Plus, what the Buzz sees as a lack of focus can be viewed through a different prism as a masterful weaving of multiple themes and storylines, some lofty and some whimsical, all in a single one-hour episode. Let’s see how the rest of the season unfolds (and what kind of fish we end up with)!