Information on new releases by Fischerspooner, the D.O.C., the Music, American Hi-Fi, and a George Harrison tribute album, among others.
'One' Of A Kind
After months of hype, New York synth-driven duo Fischerspooner will release its debut album, "#1," this week in North America via Capitol. The set will be accompanied by "DVD #1," which features Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner's own film work, music videos, a documentary, and performance footage. Capitol is touting the project as the first of its kind to be simultaneously released on both formats in one package.
The album includes the eight songs originally featured on a limited-edition CD sold in New York, augmented with a new Junkie XL remix of the European hit single "Emerge," and an "updated" version of that cut's music video. The DVD hosts the original clips for "Emerge" and "The 15th," and a short film entitled "Sweetness," along with seven video projections used during the duo's highly theatrical live performances.
"I never listened to any of the synth stuff in the '80s, and I'm not a huge fan of dance music; my background is in rock and classical," Fischer says. "But I learned that something synthetic could be interesting. In the process, I discovered my own anti-electronic music statement."
Seminal West Coast rapper the D.O.C.'s long-awaited album "The Deuce" will finally see the light of day this week on Silverback Records/RUMM/RED. The album, rumored for release as early as a year ago, will be the rapper's first effort in six years, and features guest appearances by the likes of Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Nate Dogg, and more.
First single "Tha S***" featuring Snoop, Cube, and MC Ren. Dre lends his vocals to the track "Gorilla Pimpin'," also one of many tracks featuring the D.O.C.'s protege, young Dallas-based MC 6Two. Nate Dogg and Kurupt guest on "Concrete Jungle."
The D.O.C. was one of the original West Coast rappers, working with Dr. Dre prior to the formation of N.W.A. and collaborating as a lyricist on that group's "Straight Outta Compton" album. He later had a hit with his solo album "No One Can Do It Better" (Ruthless), which reached No. 1 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart in September 1989.
However, in November of that year, the rapper was involved in a car accident that crushed his larynx and almost killed him. Reconstructive surgery allowed him to speak again, but his voice was very different, evidenced by a guest spot on Dre's classic 1992 album "The Chronic" (Death Row) as well as his own 1996 comeback album "Helter Skelter" (Giant).
The Music Men
It is one hour before show time and Robert Harvey, frontman for U.K. rock quartet the Music, is the epitome of the phrase "the calm before the storm." Soft-spoken, even subdued at times, Harvey begins to audibly sizzle when the discussion turns to the night ahead. "We get up there and freak out," he says. "We all express ourselves exactly how we want to onstage. We just like making a lot of noise and grooving. It feels good."
That "groove" -- a tidal wave of guitar and drum undulation over which Harvey's occasionally unintelligible falsetto floats like the breaking sun -- has brought Harvey, guitarist Adam Nutter, bassist Stuart Coleman, and drummer Phil Jordan a heap of acclaim, with comparisons ranging from the Stone Roses to Oasis to Led Zeppelin. The group's self-titled Capitol debut arrives this week, after having already sold close to 400,000 units internationally, according to the label.
Most of the 10 songs, including first single "Take the Long Road and Walk It," rattle and roll their way around five-plus minutes of solid musical jam. "The music we were exposed to growing up here was extremely boring," Harvey says. "Actually, there have only been a few bands since I've been alive that have really touched people. If I wanted to find music that interested me, I'd have to go underground, or go back 13 years in time."
Look for the Music opening North American dates for Coldplay from Feb. 24-March 13, followed by a support stint with labelmates the Vines through April 19 in Atlanta.
It's not surprising that American Hi-Fi's sophomore Island release, "The Art of Losing," was written and tested on the road. "We played one show before we recorded the first album," says lead singer/guitarist Stacy Jones of his band's 2001 eponymous debut, "and we played almost 300 shows before we recorded this one. Having the time on the road really helped us develop into the band that we really wanted to be."
One of the real charms of "The Art of Losing" for music fans -- aside from a start-to-finish array of infectious choruses and crunchy guitar riffs -- is the heavy dose of cleverly placed references to other artists and songs. "Stuff like that comes out all the time just because it's in my blood," says Jones, who possesses an impressive collection of concert T-shirts. "There are a lot of little hidden things. Part of that is we want to turn people on to the bands that inspire us."
The title cut is No. 33 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart this week. The group will play North American clubs through March 30, then proceed overseas for five U.K. engagements.
Todd Rundgren, Kinks guitarist Dave Davies, former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, former Byrds leader Roger McGuinn, and late Who bassist John Entwistle are among the artists who have contributed tracks to "Songs From the Material World: A Tribute to George Harrison." Due Tuesday (Feb. 25) -- which would have been the late Harrison's 60th birthday -- via Koch Entertainment, the set boasts 11 tracks from Harrison's years as a member of the Beatles and his subsequent solo career, all specifically recorded for this project.
"Songs From the Material World" kicks off with Rundgren's version of the Fab Four's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," arguably the most famous Harrison-penned song. "Although I was a young guitar player before I'd heard of the Beatles, I'd never heard the term 'lead guitarist,'" Rundgren says. "George created the job description for my first paying gig, the vocation that I'm still lucky enough to practice today and that kind of enthusiasm is shared by the artists who are featured on the album, many of whom were influenced by Harrison to take up music in the first place."
Other cuts by veteran artists are Entwistle's take on "Here Comes the Sun," the Smithereens' version of "I Want To Tell You," McGuinn's "If I Needed Someone," Wyman's "Taxman," and former MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer's cover of "It's All Too Much." A few younger artists also contribute, with former Wilco member Jay Bennett and sometime collaborator Edward Burch adding "Isn't It a Pity" and Big Head Todd & the Monsters chiming in with "Within You, Without You."
Additional titles hitting stores this week include:
The Yep Roc album "Down With Wilco," which features Minus 5 principals Scott McCaughey, Peter Buck, and Ken Stringfellow working with Wilco members Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Glenn Kotche, and Leroy Bach as well as a host of others, including the Spinanes' Rebecca Gates and High Llamas frontman Sean O'Hagan.
The second solo album from ex-Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft, "Human Conditions" (Virgin).
Rapper Freeway's "Philadelphia Freeway" (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam).
Lyle Lovett's "Smile" (MCA), featuring a dozen tracks the Texas-based artist and his Large Band have contributed to soundtracks over the past decade.
Electronica duo Tosca's "Dehli 9" (!K7/G-Stone).
The soundtrack to the TV show "Smallville," featuring tracks from Remy Zero, Five For Fighting, and Weezer (Elektra).
Singer/songwriter Brady Seals' "Thompson Street" (Image Entertainment), sporting songs co-written with Rodney Crowell and ex-Jellyfish singer/guitarist Andy Sturmer.
Veteran jazz/rock outfit Spyro Gyra's "Original Cinema" (Heads Up).
Reissues of rapper Ice Cube's "Amerikkka's Most Wanted" and "Death Certificate" (Priority).
A career "Best Of" retrospective and DVD collection from U.K. rock trio the Jam (Interscope).