Weeks and weeks of slow-to-nonexistent release slates have led to this fresh hell: August’s final Tuesday is so jam-packed with new stuff that I’ll be typing about it from now until Christmas. But I’m not complaining, mind you: you have no idea how great it will be to walk into the record store and actually be greeted by a new release wall which is literally popping with exciting material begging for my attention.


(Incidentally, this is the Buzz’s 300th post, hard as that is to believe. Thanks to all my readers who continue to follow me on this crazy ride!)


Her annoying debut single “The Way I Am” — and the spare, folk-y album, Girls and Boys, on which it appeared — became a word-of-mouth sensation after saturating the whole of television a couple of years ago, popping up on such series as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “One Tree Hill” as well as in an extensive advertising campaign for Old Navy. A collection of b-sides and live recordings followed last year, and now, indie queen
Ingrid Michaelson has returned with her true sophomore project, Everybody. This gal’s tinny voice irks me no end, but she clearly has her fans, and they will probably turn out en masse to snap this up. Mazel tov, y’all.

Her recent two-album detour into torch singing didn’t exactly set the sales charts on fire — even though they did produce some blisteringly triumphant music (how ’bout those ingenious covers of The Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin'” and Phoebe Snow’s “Poetry Man”?) — and this week, hip hop pioneer Queen Latifah returns to her old stomping grounds with her latest project, Persona. Latifah has enlisted guests Mary J. Blige, Jadakiss, and others to bring this to life, and the first single “Cue the Rain” — which she debuted on the “American Idol” finale last spring — is an undeniable knockout return to form, but who else besides me is kinda gonna miss the more mellow and melodic side of the Queen?

I swear, if I had set out to make a mixtape of recent country radio hits, I don’t think I could’ve done a better job than those who assembled
Now That’s What I Call Country! Vol. 2. Featuring terrific tunes from the likes of George Strait (the magnificently moving “Troubadour”), Lady Antebellum (“I Run to You,” one of 2009’s very best singles), Keith Urban (the spry “Kiss a Girl”), that doofus Kenny Chesney (“Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven,” one of the rare bright spots in his increasingly inane discography), Taylor Swift (the sappy crossover supersmash “Love Story”), and Jamey Johnson (the staggering “In Color”), among many others, this latest entry in the venerable Now! series is as solid a country sampler as you’ll ever run across. Don’t be afraid to dip your toe into these waters.

I’ve already sung to heaven the praises of “When Love Takes Over,” his smash collaboration with former Destiny’s Child songbird Kelly Rowland that has set dancefloors worldwide ablaze this entire summer. And this week, red-hot French DJ David Guetta hits the ground running with his fourth studio album One Love, which features collaborations with Akon (the testy “Sexy Bitch,” which is already lined up as the project’s second single), Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am, and Ne-Yo.

Wholly in spite of the fact that it was just way too irritatingly cutesy for its own damned good, her 2007 debut Coco came literally out of nowhere to become an unlikely commercial triumph. A hit duet with the equally baffling Jason Mraz (whose ubiquitous smash “I’m Yours,” believe it or not, just spent its seventieth week on the Billboard
Hot 100, supplanting LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live” as the longest-running single in the history of the chart) kept her on the radar, and now this week, cute li’l Colbie Caillat (whose daddy Ken helped make the members of Fleetwood Mac music legends) presents her sophomore effort, Breakthrough. I pray the fact that I find this album’s lead single, “Fallin’ for You,” kinda charming and sweet in its own way won’t decimate my street cred (it’s bouncy and fun, a perfect summer radio staple); nonetheless, creatively, there’s nowhere for this girl to go but up.

Her riveting 1998 debut I Megaphone is something of a cult classic now (if you’re not familiar with its singles “Come Here Boy” and/or “Candlelight,” you’re really missing out), and her 2005 effort Speak for Yourself rode a tidal wave of television licensing all the way to sales in excess of 750,000 copies (and, bizarrely, netted her a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, the weirdest one of same since Shelby Lynne’s a half-decade earlier). So what is that raging madwoman Imogen Heap about to pull out of her hat for a third act? A nation of fans old and new is about to find out with the highly-anticipated release of Ellipse. (If you can’t get enough Heap, don’t forget to check out the album’s deluxe edition, which contains instrumental versions of each of Ellipse‘s thirteen tracks.)

They got launched into the big time last winter when ABC Daytime built a massive promotional campaign around their terrific track “World Wide Open,” and their first official single — the brilliantly melodic “Runaway” — has been steadily climbing the country charts all summer. And this week, after several maddening delays, we finally get our first full-length taste of hot new trio
Love and Theft, whose debut album World Wide Open arrives in stores. The three bandmates had a hand in writing each of the set’s eleven tracks, and if what we’ve heard to here is any indication, you should keep an eye out for this record to pop. Could well be a late-summer sleeper.

For this week’s marquee release, you must head over to the DVD aisle, where one of my favorite films ever — Whit Stillman’s wry, dryly hilarious 1998 gem
The Last Days of Disco — is at long last getting the Criterion treatment. The script — which Stillman adapted from his own novel (which is subtitled with Cocktails at Petrossian Afterwards) — is endlessly talky, but the superbly marvelous cast — led by Kate Beckinsale (in one of her first major roles), Chloe Sevigny (just one year before her Oscar-nominated role in Boys Don’t Cry), Chris Eigeman (at his snide, snarky best), and the heartbreakingly gorgeous Matt Keeslar (who has never failed to gloriously transcend the often-shoddy material with which he has been saddled throughout his frustrating career) — keeps things moving blissfully along in this story of a group of yuppie, self-absorbed friends searching for love and luck in the waning days of the Studio 54 era. Disco‘s original no-frills DVD came and went like a flash in the format’s early days, so this re-release — which features cast commentaries, deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and the film’s original theatrical trailer — is most welcome, and though it may take some leg work to track it down — I finally managed to find one at Barnes and Noble this afternoon, after several hours of futile searching — trust me when I tell you, it’s worth the effort.

Also noteworthy this week:


  • Everybody’s favorite Hasidic reggae star Matisyahu is up with his sophomore album, Light.

  • Collaborations with Joss Stone and India.Arie, and a shockingly mellow cover of Norah Jones’ Grammy-winning touchstone “Don’t Know Why,” punctuate Time Flies When You’re Having Fun, the latest effort from music legend Smokey Robinson.

  • Australian rockers Jet blast back to the fore with their third album, Shaka Rock.

  • ’90s gods Collective Soul are still chugging along with their latest self-titled release.

  • Their electrifying smash “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” garnered them unfair comparisons to Oasis and made them instant stars four years ago. Their second album predictably stiffed, and this week, British band Arctic Monkeys take another stab at stateside success with their third record, Humbug.

  • Willie Nelson gets assistance from Norah Jones and Diana Krall on American Classic, his latest stroll through this country’s classic songbook.

  • The divine Patty Griffin provides a lovely harmony vocal on
    “Seeing Stars,” a standout track from Jack Ingram‘s latest effort,
    Big Dreams and High Hopes

  • Michael Jackson‘s pre-Off the Wall years are chronicled on the misleadingly-titled The Definitive Collection.

  • New tracks from Panic at the Disco and Dashboard Confessional highlight the original soundtrack for the new summer thriller
    Jennifer’s Body.

  • Contemporary christian act Leeland created a buzz last year around their breakthrough single “Count Me In”; this week, they follow it up with Love is on the Move.

  • Ahead of next month’s big screen reboot of Fame comes the
    new film’s original soundtrack, which also features a modern update of
    Irene Cara’s classic title theme.

  • A new wave of Sony Legacy’s Essential 3.0 series rolls out, with best-of updates for, among others, Bob Dylan, REO Speedwagon,
    Hall & Oates, and Willie Nelson.

  • And finally, from the TV front: the sixth season of Sherry Ann’s
    beloved One Tree Hill, and the first season of the late-’80s classic thirtysomething, arrive on DVD.


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