The entire Bon Jovi discography makes its way back to record stores this week via a series of special deluxe edition reissues, and Sherry Ann, A, and myself all wait with bated breath as three of our all-time favorite performers step up to the plate with new projects. Take a looksee:


Because she loves them with a ferocity that could bend steel, I happily turn over the lead paragraph of this week’s record store report to the ever-eloquent Sherry Ann, who reports the following: The National‘s lyricist and lead singer Matt Berninger has a voice that you’ll never forget once you hear it. At first, it’s a bit creepy, but with repeated listens the raspy baritone becomes the perfect complement to the brilliance of the lyrics it conveys. Although relatively unknown to mainstream audiences, the band have been the critics’ darlings since their 2005 release Alligator, and their music has been featured on several television shows, including, most prominently, my beloved One Tree Hill. (One of my favorite-ever Nathan/Haley moments, set to The National’s “Daughters of the Soho Riots,” can be viewed here.) This week, they return with their fifth studio album, High Violet; in my opinion, the standout tracks are the ballad “Runaway” and the up-tempo “Conversation 16,” and with guest appearances by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens, this is definitely an album worth checking out.

Lately, he’s all about Lady GaGa (particularly now that she is naming songs in his likeness and image) and her brash, brazen theatrics, but once upon a time, he had room in his heart only for Miss Celine Dion, who returns this week with a supreme CD/DVD chronicle of her recently-wrapped Taking Chances World Tour (a California show from which A and his family took in the Thanksgiving before last). A had nothing but effusive raves for the concert, and I’m sure it’s abfab, not least because, even though it was a tour in support of her weak album of the same title, the setlist seemed to focus primarily on Dion’s earlier and best-known hits (chief among them, my old favorites “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” and “To Love You More”) with only a cursory acknowledgment of the album itself, which, if you subtract the boffo title track and the underrated cover of Heart’s late-’80s classic “Alone” (both of which are present and accounted for here), didn’t amount to a hell of a lot.

Now well into his 60s and fully convinced that he was finally ready to hang it up for good following the relative commercial failure of 2006’s terrific Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose, the ever-irascible, recklessly brilliant Meat Loaf has been coaxed back into the limelight by Green Day’s uber-producer Rob Cavallo for what he boldly calls the most important album of his career, Hang Cool Teddy Bear. A concept album based around a Killian Kerwin short story about a wounded soldier envisioning a future that may never be, Cavallo has pulled out all the stops for Teddy Bear, recruiting tunes from the likes of Jon Bon Jovi, Our Lady Peace’s Raine Maida, and Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman, not to mention lining up cameos from American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi (who, in actual fact, is one hell of a terrific vocalist, a truth you might not be able to ascertain from her often-grating comments on the country’s number one television series), Queen’s legendary guitarist Brian May, and even House star Hugh Laurie. Should be a blast.

Also noteworthy this week:


  • I’ve always jokingly called them “the poor man’s Coldplay”;
    let’s see what those cheeky Brits Keane come up with for their fourth album, Night Train.

  • My old favorite Vonda Shepard is up this week with
    The From the Sun Tour: Live in San Javier, which documents
    her latest nationwide trek.

  • Jackson Browne teams up with David Lindley for his latest,
    a live recording entitled Love is Strange.

  • All hail the return of Brad Roberts and those quintessentially ’90s folk-rockers Crash Test Dummies, who are back in fine form with a new record, Oooh La La.

  • David Foster has been singing her praises, literally to anyone who would listen, for a couple of years now; finally, a young Filipino gal name of Charice — who has been justifiably drawing comparisons to the likes of such golden-throated divas as Whitney and Mariah — makes her official stateside debut this week with a mega-hyped
    eponymous album. (And Oprah’s already onboard this train,
    so you just know this is gonna be a hit.)

  • I’ve not written much about this season’s shenanigans on American Idol, primarily because my thoughts can pretty much be summed up in three crisp, distinct words: I. Love. Lee. Mr. DeWyze and Mama Sox and that wackydoo Siobhan and all their friends can be found this week on the brand new companion disc American Idol: Season 9, which blessedly includes Didi Benami’s stunningly powerful cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Play With Fire.”

  • On the iTunes front this week: trust me, you can handle “The Truth” Kris Allen - The Truth (feat. Pat Monahan) - Single - The Truth (feat. Pat Monahan) — my favorite track from last year’s Idol winner Kris Allen‘s debut CD — which has been refashioned as a brilliant duet between Allen and Train’s sensational frontman Pat Monahan. And if you missed that compellingly crazy Lady GaGa‘s admittedly inspired mash-up of “Bad Romance” and “Alejandro” Bad Romance / Alejandro (From American Idol) on last week’s Idol results show, the video from same is now available for purchase as well.
    (Start your engines, A!)

  • Finally, Sherry Ann insists I mention that all sixty-five episodes (plus two full-length TV movies) of MTV’s mid-’90s animated touchstone Daria
    are now available in a sterling new eight-DVD collection. Giddy on up.


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