Best Bets: 2008 Album Preview (Continued)
Our coverage of twenty of 2008's most highly-anticipated albums continues with sets due in March through the end of the year.Our coverage of twenty of 2008's most highly-anticipated albums continues with sets due in March through the end of the year.
Click here to return to February albums.
(Warner Bros., April 1)
Nobody would ever confuse R.E.M. for Metallica, but the guitars have definitely been turned up for the Georgia group's 14th studio album. Nearly all the material was tested out during a summer run in Dublin, although manager Bertis Downs says a few of those songs didn't make the cut, and that a couple of album tunes were held back from live airings. Mostly gone is the drowsy vibe of 2004's "Around the Sun," with "Living Well Is the Best Revenge," "Horse to Water," "Aftermath" and "Until the Day Is Done" recapturing the old R.E.M. energy. Bassist Mike Mills says the band was "certainly aiming for a more live feel and maybe a little more uptempo."
Flight Of The Conchords
"Flight of the Conchords"
(Sub Pop, April 22)
They play marginally talented singer/songwriters on their runaway hit HBO series, but Flight of the Conchords members Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie put in extensive time in the studio to perfect their Sub Pop debut. All the tracks have appeared on the show, including "Beautiful Girl" and "Pretty Prince of Parties," but Sub Pop A&R honcho Tony Kiewel says they've been "massively reworked and totally rearranged." The synth-pop parody "Inner City Pressure" is likely to be the first single. Clement says, "I'm not a particularly social person or the life of the party, but somehow it's ended up that way."
Death Cab For Cutie
To follow its 2005 mainstream breakthrough, "Plans," Death Cab for Cutie opted to record live to analog tape with as few overdubs as possible. The outcome: "a sampling of the most uptempo, upbeat Death Cab songs as well as some of our saddest," bassist Nick Harmer says. Likely opener "Bixby Canyon Bridge" falls into the former category, while "The Ice Is Getting Thinner" "just breaks my heart every time," he says. Most unusual: the nine-minute jam "I Will Possess You." Harmer says of the late May release: "We looked at the habitual things we've done in the past and tried to move beyond them."
Snoop has been tight-lipped about his latest disc, but if it's anything like first single "Sensual Seduction" and its hilarious video, he'll be in great shape for a spring hit. That talkbox-driven cut has risen quickly at radio; it's No. 11 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Aiding the buzz: the rapper's new reality show on A&E.
(Island, Spring/Second Quarter)
After one of the biggest comebacks in recent R&B history with 2005's multiplatinum "The Emancipation of Mimi," the stakes are quite high for Carey's next album. Jermaine Dupri, who was behind the "Mimi" success, is returning to helm the new album. "Ms. Mariah is on fire," Island Def Jam chairman Antonio "L.A." Reid says. "I don't want to hype the record, but she writes all her own songs. Of her producers, the most interesting to me is DJ Toomp, but she's also working with Stargate, Scott Storch, Danja and will.i.am."
(Downtown/Atlantic, Spring/Second Quarter)
Last July, Gnarls Barkley member Danger Mouse played for Billboard one new song intended for the group's sophomore album. But he refused to discuss the track or even provide its name. Nearly six months later, there's not much else to report about the follow-up to 2006's acclaimed "St. Elsewhere," other than that Downtown/Atlantic hopes to release it this spring. "This is not something that we contrived," Cee-Lo says. "It's truly something that we just can't explain. So why try to explain it at all? It just is."
(Jive, Spring/Second Quarter)
First expected in fourth-quarter 2007, the R&B superstar's new album is now looking like a second-quarter 2008 release, according to sources. Jermaine Dupri produced the track "The Realest," which was at one time mentioned as a possible first single, while T-Pain produced "All the Time" and Ludacris turns up on the recent leak "Dat Girl Right There." Dre & Vidal and Cool and Dre may wind up with cuts on the album as well. Sales of Usher's prior effort, 2004's "Confessions," are at 9.4 million units, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
"The idea of making a dirty pop record—this is what has been on our minds," Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos says of ongoing sessions in Glasgow. "It's the opposite of punk/pop, which took something that was wonderful and removed all the dirt." The approach is best-heard on "Ride Together," a "full-on upbeat, riding across the desert rock song. A lot of the other stuff is more rhythm- and dance-based," he says. "For me, the imperfections are what makes it perfect, like the cheapest, shittiest guitars through practice amps."
The Denver group's 2005 debut, "How to Save a Life," built slowly, but after its title track scored a key placement in "Grey's Anatomy," it was off to the races. The album has now shifted more than 2.24 million copies in the United States, meaning the pressure is surely on for its follow-up. Producer Mike Flynn has logged time with the band in Denver doing preproduction on six new songs, which he describes as "incredible. They've turned into a great live band after two-and-a-half years of straight touring." The group was playing new songs "Happiness" and "Dixie" during recent shows, but it's not clear whether they'll make the cut. "I love those songs," Flynn says. "But they may think of them as older because they've toured them a lot."
It will be close to five years since the release of his debut, "Chariot," when DeGraw's new set hits stores. The currently untitled album features a more seasoned, edgier version of the 30-year-old songwriter, whose tuneful voice will be heard over more guitars and more "primal" piano lines. "I played really simple piano parts in order to get out of the way of the melody and the lyrics, to enhance what's meant to be heard," the New York resident says. Produced by Howard Benson, the album features first single "In Love With a Girl," the playful "Cop Stop" and the catchy-chorused "Young Love."
With guidance from producer Brian Eno, "there's experimentation and exploration" on Coldplay's fourth album. "But the music still has integrity. It's real and honest. There's no posturing or bombast," according to a source, who adds, "It feels like a very dense record. There are so many melodies and colors packed into a relatively short space." "Prospekt," which was previously said to reflect "a vibrancy and colorfulness that owes much to the atmosphere of Buenos Aires and Barcelona," will likely wind up featuring songs such as "Cemeteries of London," "Violet Hill," "Poppy Fields" and "42."
After extensive writing sessions with longtime collaborators Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois in France and Morocco, U2 now has enough material for two new albums, according to Bono. Word is some of the songs have "trance influences" and "very hardcore guitar" playing from the Edge. "It feels like the 'Achtung Baby' period, when everybody was really hungry to do something fresh," Lanois says. And while there hasn't been any confirmation, Bono has claimed the set will feature "Mercy," a six-and-a-half-minute epic left over from the "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" sessions.