For as meek and measly, as dull and dreary as January’s slate of music has been so far, the month sure is ending with a hell of a bang. It’s a full week on tap, kids. Live it up:


And now, a very special announcement: the first two seasons of that ridiculously brilliant classic early-’90s sitcom Blossom arrive on DVD this week. Starring the spectacularly spunky Mayim Bialik — who, I just got confirmation today, will be appearing on Brandon’s Buzz Radio next week to promote this very release — as an unusually perceptive pre-teen swimming upstream against both a screwy (yet oddly loving) family — musician parents, one who stuck around (the dad, played to perfection by the hilarious Ted Wass) and one who hightailed it to Gay Paree (the mom, the gloriously gorgeous Melissa Manchester); and a pair of brothers, one ditzy (Joey Lawrence, playing dumb to the hilt, honey) and one drunk (Michael Stoyanov, edgy, ditto) — and the onset of puberty, the show’s crackerjack ensemble also grew to include the terrific Jenna von Oy (as Blossom’s best friend Six — as in, the number of beers it took to conceive her, she helpfully reveals in the pilot) and the dashing David Lascher as Blossom’s steady boyfriend Vinnie. Back in the day, “Blossom” was the butt of a great many jokes because of its occasional lapses into preachy pretentiousness, but it’s quite worth the effort for a chance to watch this cast play nimbly off of each other. As blatant a precursor to the twin triumphs that were “Dawson’s Creek” and “Felicity” as can be found, it’s high damn time this show made it to DVD. Buy it at once.

I’m not even believing I missed this one last week: Fiction Family, a self-titled collaboration between Switchfoot’s brilliant lead singer Jon Foreman and Nickel Creek’s former guitarist Sean Watkins. Originally slated to be released by Starbucks, the album found a home on ATO Records (vaunted home of David Gray and Patty Griffin, thank you very much). And I double dog dare you to tell me the bracing combination of Foreman’s lazy drawl and Watkins’ lush grasp of acoustic melody doesn’t suck you in from the word go.

Containing his classic duets with Martina McBride (1997’s “Valentine,” the tune that put her on the Shania road to pop stardom), Rebecca Lynn Howard (2002’s underrated adult contemporary smash “Simple Things”), and Collin Raye and Susan Ashton (1998’s “The Gift,” as strong a Christmas song as has been written in the last decade or better), as well as newly recorded collaborations with surprise Grammy nominees Lady Antebellum and the long-missing Stephanie Bentley (‘member her, Sherry Ann?), this week brings Ultimate Love Songs: The Very Best of Jim Brickman. If you’re expecting a comprehensive best-of with this collection, be forewarned: “Angel Eyes,” the 1995 piano instrumental that launched Brickman into the big time, is nowhere to be found, nor is “Change of Heart,” his shattering composition which Olivia Newton-John sang the crap out of back in 2000. Still, there’s a hell of a lot of good music to be impressed with here.

Led by the dizzying lead single “Take Me Out,” their self-titled 2004 debut album turned into a word-of-mouth smash. Unfortunately, their waaay-too-rushed 2005 follow-up, the unfocused You Could Have It So Much Better, didn’t fare as well, and Franz Ferdinand smartly stepped back to rejigger their sound. The results can be heard this week in their third album, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand. Word is these guys have smoothed out the rough edges in pursuit of a cleaner pop feel. Hey, it did wonders for The Killers.

Of all those — Clint Eastwood, Dev Patel, and the heartbreaking James Franco (easily the best thing about that overblown mess Milk, if you axe me), to name just three — who got snubbed in the race for a 2009 Academy Award last week, it’s fair to say no omission was more glaring and inexplicable than that of Bruce Springsteen, whose haunting title track for The Wrestler was not only in the running for Best Original Song, but was favored to win the whole shebang. “Wrestler” can be found on Springsteen’s latest album, Working on a Dream, out this week. Early reviews on the record have been decidedly mixed — odd, that, considering the hosannas for Springsteen’s last three efforts, going all the way back to his 2002 triumph The Rising, have been deafening, and justifiably so — but that’s not likely to prevent Dream from becoming a commercial smash anyhow.

A riveting mix of tracks from the likes of Leona Lewis (her fabulous global breakthrough “Bleeding Love”), Coldplay (their very first number one single, “Viva La Vida”), OneRepublic (the chilling “Apologize,” featuring heart-stopping vocal work from the year’s musical MVP Ryan Tedder), and M.I.A. (that wacky left-field smash “Paper Planes”) are among the select few who comprise the 2009 Grammy Nominees. And, true, you have to put up with uber-annoying tunes from those irritating starlets Sara Bareilles (the simpy, skimpy “Love Song”) and Katy Perry (the offensively grating “I Kissed a Girl”), but overall, this year’s annual compilation ain’t so shabby.

I’m proud to announce I still the original copy on vinyl and cassette. I’m also proud to announce that a worthy and long-awaited remastered update of one of the ’80s’ all-time classic albums — and the one that would end up giving its band their final (and most brilliant, bar none) hit single — has finally made its way to record stores nationwide. Emboldened by the success of their breakthrough smash Eye in the Sky a couple of years earlier, experimentalist prog-rockers The Alan Parsons Project decided to change course with the follow-up project, 1984’s stunningly spare Ammonia Avenue. Fans — this one loudly excepted; I found it to be a riveting, symphonic roller coaster ride — weren’t quite sure what to make of the band’s altered sound and joined top 40 radio in foolishly turning their attention elsewhere, and the Project was kaput just past the decade’s midpoint. Now being re-released — as part of a massive overhaul of a goodly chunk of their Arista catalog — with seven bonus tracks, including an “early rough mix” of their compelling touchstone “Don’t Answer Me” (and if that doesn’t remain one of the twenty-five finest pop songs anybody ever wrote, I’ll eat my computer), Avenue is now being given a fair chance to be judged for its own merits instead of for what those fairweather fans expected it to be, and while it’s sad it has to happen twenty-five years after the fact, I say better late than never.

Also noteworthy this week:


  • Hard to believe that next week marks the fiftieth anniversary of “The Day the Music Died,” but to mark the event, a pair of three-disc Buddy Holly retrospectives — Memorial Collection and Down the Line: The Rarities — have been released.

  • Leona Lewis‘ much-buzzed-about — and heretofore unheard — true debut album Best Kept Secret arrives on American shores this week.

  • After taking a triumphant detour to Broadway — didn’t you know he co-wrote the Tony-winning instant classic Spring Awakening? — Sherry Ann’s favorite one-hit wonder Duncan Sheik returns this week with Whisper House, his first album in nearly four years.

  • Still chasing a smash as unavoidable as their 2004 radio behemoth “The Reason,” rock band Hoobastank is up with their latest attempt, FOR(N)EVER.

  • My pal Chip wrote me today to ensure that his favorite band
    The Bird and the Bee‘s latest, Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future, made the cut in this week’s record store report. For what, exactly, d’you take me, sir?

  • Peter Cincotti, heretofore the poor man’s Michael Buble, returns with his long-anticipated third record, East of Angel Town.

  • Modern troubadour Pat Green returns with his fifth major-label release, What I’m For.


2 responses to “in my opinionation, the sun is gonna surely shine
(or: january 27 — a thumbnail sketch)”

  1. the buzz from Chip:

    For what do I take you? Well, I don’t even know anymore, if you’re dissing Milk. I mean, please!

  2. the buzz from brandon:

    Chip, darling, you know I love you, but that movie was an overrated mess, and Josh Brolin ought to be ashamed of himself for stealing James Franco’s Oscar nod!