June kicks off with a pair of highly-anticipated returns and yet another dip into the catalog of an artist whose posthumous output has far exceeded what he managed to produce during his short time on this planet. Read on:


He only released one album (the amazing Grace) in his lifetime — he was recording number two when he accidentally drowned in Memphis at the heartbreakingly tender age of 30 — but his influence continues to be felt today on artists as varied as Rufus Wainwright, Radiohead, Duncan Sheik, even Kings of Leon. And in the year in which we commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of that one album’s original release, a new three-disc set, entitled Grace Around the World, arrives to reveal yet more of Jeff Buckley‘s devastating brilliance. The collection’s first two discs document, on both CD and DVD, the highlights of the two-year world tour upon which Buckley embarked to promote the record, and the third disc contains the award-winning documentary Amazing Grace, which chronicles the enduring legacy of Buckley’s tragically brief career and life.

Her role as Ugly Betty‘s nasty foil has kept her music career on the backburner for the past few years, but my beloved Vanessa Williams brings her golden, flawless voice back to center stage this week with her latest album, The Real Thing. A pair of original tracks from Babyface and covers of tracks by Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers punctuate the adventurous set, which finds the glorious Williams experimenting with playful Latin jazz rhythms. And while it remains to be seen whether or not anything on this record will top the majestic cover of Melissa Manchester’s “Midnight Blue” — to my ear, the finest four minutes of music Miss Vanessa’s ever laid down — that singlehandedly made her last album a worthwhile endeavor, I say Williams could hum “Row Row Row Your Boat” while gnawing on an entire mouthful of salty Goldfish crackers and sound damn well brilliant doing it. Get this.

The tight-knit members of Dave Matthews Band unite to salute their fallen comrade LeRoi Moore (who died tragically in an ATV accident last August) on their emotionally intense seventh studio set Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, their first album since 2005’s maddeningly uneven Stand Up (which nonetheless spawned my favorite DMB track to date, the shuffling sonic marvel “American Baby”). Moore’s inimitably potent saxophone work can be heard sprinkled throughout King, about half of which was recorded prior to Moore’s passing, and early word on the record is strong. With producer Rob Cavallo — best known for his behind the scenes work with Green Day, Kid Rock, and Alanis Morissette — holding the reins, I’d think (and pray) we’re at least assured a batch of tight, radio-ready tunes to behold. Fingers are crossed.

Also noteworthy this week:


  • Thanks to an irresistible smash called “New Shoes,” a Scottish lad name of Paolo Nutini got his sparkling debut disc These Streets noticed a couple of years ago. Nutini follows it up this week with his sophomore outing, Sunny Side Up.

  • Foreigner’s legendary former lead singer Lou Gramm is back after an extended hiatus — about which he’s soon coming to Brandon’s Buzz Radio to discuss, if things pan out as planned — with the
    self-titled debut from the new band which bears his name.


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