April comes to a close with an explosion of new material from a handful of the coolest, most fascinating dames in the bidness. Dig in with glee:


Hot on the heels of her second high-profile breakup — and how much did you love her bemused proclamation to Oprah last week that she can’t understand why people keep saying there is no such thing as gay marriage (“I have two ex-wives!”) — comes Fearless Love, the tenth studio album from this generation’s pioneering rock chick Melissa Etheridge. Even though I’m crazy about her in general, I’ll admit I haven’t been so wild about her last couple of records, but the title track from Fearless is easily her strongest single since 2001’s fabulous “I Want to Be in Love” and is garnering her the first real traction she has had at radio in years, so color me cautiously optimistic. (Editor’s note: I found out the hard way tonight, after purchasing this at Best Buy, that the Target edition contains two exclusive bonus tracks, so now I have two of these if someone would like to purchase one.)

That ever-quotable flibbertigibbet Courtney Love is being deliberately misleading in calling her latest project, Nobody’s Daughter, a Hole album when, in actual fact, Love’s former bandmates Eric Erlandson and Melissa auf der Maur have zero participation on this record (and, if recent reports are to be believed, are quite irked that Love is trading so cavalierly on the band’s name and legacy). But it’s not at all difficult to understand why Love is taking this tack: her last solo album — 2004’s massive trainwreck America’s Sweetheart — was a disastrous megaflop, whereupon the last album carrying the Hole moniker — 1998’s furiously brilliant Celebrity Skin — deservedly remains one of the alternative movement’s few true creative touchstones. You do the math.

Tonally and temperamentally, she had nothing in common with her so-called peers — a natural extension of the Joni Mitchell / Joan Baez tradition, she was forever at odds with the Rebas and Faiths with whom she consistently had to battle for airplay; as the marvelous Sherry Ann once quipped with her trademarked brilliant precision, “You can’t go on Crook and Chase and talk about Nietzsche!” — which made her one of the least likely commercial winners of the famed Nashville boom of the early ’90s (which only proves nothing can keep the cream from rising to the top, no matter the circumstance). And even though she managed to rack up sixteen straight top 20 singles in her heyday, country radio left her behind some time ago — to the devastating detriment of all fans of terrific, thought-provoking music — but the sensationally astute Mary Chapin Carpenter toils on, and this week sees the arrival of her tenth studio album, The Age of Miracles. Go get this at once. (And, as with Shelby Lynne last week, the Barnes & Noble edition of this record contains an exclusive bonus track.)

Also noteworthy this week:


  • Country queen Jo Dee Messina returns from an extended hiatus with the first leg of a planned trilogy, Unmistakable Love.

  • Richie McDonald, the vocalist who gave voice to all of their best-loved crossover smashes, is now pursuing a solo career, and famed country band Lonestar is moving forward with a new lead singer, Cody Collins, and a new album, Party Heard Around the World.

  • One of the most influential singer/songwriters in the history of modern popular music earns a respectable career retrospective with the new self-explanatory two-disc collection The Essential Carole King.

  • The terrific Jesse Malin teams up with the St. Marks Social on
    his latest, Love It to Life.
  • They have a cameo on Carrie Underwood’s latest album and are currently opening for her on tour; now, Sons of Sylvia step into the spotlight with their debut disc, Revelation.

  • Finally, I know but two things about the band Alpha Rev: they were born in the bustling music scene that is Austin, Texas, and I am absolutely crazy about their latest single, which just happens to be the title track of their major-label debut album, New Morning.

Comments are closed.