Previewing new albums from Bon Jovi, Tom Petty, Jurassic 5, Sinead O'Connor, and more.
'Bouncing' Around The Room
After Sept. 11, 2001, Jon Bon Jovi started keeping a diary. He wrote down all the experiences and events that kept his life in motion. He also traced the ongoing lives of his family, his friends, and his band mates. He says it was a cathartic, necessary exercise after the attacks on the U.S. Eventually, many of those diary entries were shaped into songs that comprise "Bounce," Bon Jovi's eighth studio album.
Though the band's frontman/primary tunesmith asserts that the project is not completely steeped in sentiments and reactions to Sept. 11, he admits that lingering emotions relating to that day waft over a number of its tracks -- not to mention his overall perspective as an artist. Bon Jovi's feelings about the current state of the world can perhaps be most strongly felt on the anthemic set-opener, "Undivided," which he says "speaks to the oneness of everyone. Rather than dwelling upon the horror, it celebrates the silver lining the black cloud Sept. 11 offered us."
He follows that line of thought right into the album's next cut (and first single), "Everyday." Says Bon Jovi, "'Everyday' is about dusting yourself off and getting on with life. It reinforces the need for us to live each day to its fullest. The lyrics acknowledge the harshness of life, but they also encourage you to push past those hard times and keep on going. The potential for happiness is always there if you keep pressing forward." Look for the band on tour throughout the world in 2003.
'Last' Of The Famous
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers return this week with a new Warner Bros. studio set, "The Last DJ." The set, produced by longtime collaborator George Drakoulias, is the follow-up to "Echo," which debuted at No. 10 on The Billboard 200 in May 1999. Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham sings on "The Man Who Loves Women," while producer Jon Brion offers orchestral arrangements for "Like a Diamond," "Money Becomes King," and "Dreamville."
Original Heartbreakers bassist Ron Blair plays on two tracks, marking his first contributions since 1981's "Hard Promises." Three of the set's 12 tracks -- "Have Love Will Travel," "Lost Children," and "Can't Stop the Sun" -- were a fixture in Petty's live shows this summer. The title track, a sharp swipe at today's corporate radio landscape, is No. 30 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart this week.
A U.S. tour in support of "The Last DJ" begins Oct. 27 in Santa Barbara, Calif., with veteran singer/songwriter Jackson Browne in tow. Petty will also be seen Nov. 10 on the season premiere of Fox's "The Simpsons." The episode, titled "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation," will feature Petty's voice and likeness, as well as those of the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Elvis Costello, Lenny Kravitz, and Brian Setzer.
California-based hip-hop outfit Jurassic 5 this week releases its sophomore Interscope set, "Power in Numbers." The set is the follow-up to 2000's "Quality Control," which debuted at No. 33 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums tally. The video for first single "What's Golden" is in rotation on MTV2 and Much Music.
"Power in Numbers," produced by the group in tandem with Sledge and Omas and the Beatnuts' Juju, sports 17 tracks that revel in a classic hip-hop vibe along the lines of A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul. In keeping with the old-school leanings, Big Daddy Kane guests on "A Day at the Races," featuring a beat the group's DJ, Cut Chemist, has been tinkering with for 10 years.
Elsewhere, Nelly Furtado lends her vocals to "Thin Line," an insightful take on the "sticky situation" of moving a close friendship into more romantic territory. "I never thought that we could do a song like that," Cut Chemist says. "But I'm listening to it and I'm thinking, 'This is a really good ital,' a pop song when it was healthy to do good pop songs." Jurassic 5 is on tour in North America through early November.
Take an album's worth of traditional Irish songs and spice them up, as a way to both shed a different light on music often regarded as being pretty "uncool" and to celebrate Ireland's rich songwriting past. It's a vision Sinead O'Connor has fostered for more than 12 years, one that numerous major-label execs and business associates have panned during that time, and one that she nevertheless realizes with "Sean-Nos Nua" (Vanguard).
On the set, O'Connor covers traditionals she learned from her father ("Molly Malone"), songs "drilled" into her head in school ("Oro, Se Do Bheatha Bhaile"), and even songs she didn't discover until living abroad ("Paddy's Lament"). These 13 songs, she says, speak to her of the endurance of the Irish people, "the endurance of the soul, and the everlastingness of love."
With the help of her hand-picked production team of Donal Lunny, Alan Branch, and Adrian Sherwood, she sought to "sexy up" these usually rigidly performed songs by giving them a bit of a rock'n'roll spin. "There's such a prejudice about this kind of music, even within Ireland," she says. "It's thought of as being pretty uncool. So when I would approach record companies, I don't think they could see what I was talking about -- that I was gonna funk them up, for lack of a better word."
Additional titles hitting stores this week include:
-- Vocalist Heather Headley's "This Is Who I Am" (RCA).
-- The first album since 1984 from U.K. synth-pop duo Soft Cell, "Cruelty Without Beauty" (Cooking Vinyl).
-- Pianist George Winston's album of Doors covers, "Night Divides the Day" (Windham Hill).
-- A collaborative album from Phish bassist Mike Gordon and guitar legend Leo Kottke, "Clone" (Private).
-- Country newcomer Keith Urban's "Golden Road" (Capitol).
-- Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt's "BareNaked" (Jive).
-- A concert album from Ben Folds, "Live" (Epic).
-- The Epic debut from hard rock outfit Chevelle, "Wonder What's Next."
-- A new set from Art Garfunkel in tandem with Maia Sharp and Buddy Mondlock, "Everything Waits To Be Noticed" (Manhattan).
-- A three-disc retrospective from pioneering Washington, D.C.-based indie label Dischord, "20 Years of Dischord."
-- New albums from veteran underground rock acts the Apples In Stereo ("Velocity of Sound," spinART); Luna ("Close Cover Before Striking," Jetset); Hot Water Music ("Caution," Epitaph); and J. Mascis & the Fog ("Free So Free," Ultimatum).
-- Rap/rock outfit Kottonmouth Kings' "Rollin' Stoned' (Capitol/Suburban Noize).
-- New sets from acclaimed singer/songwriters Richard Buckner ("Impasse," Overcoat) and Ron Sexsmith ("Cobblestone Runway," Nettwerk).
-- The North American release of U.K. boy band Westlife's international smash "World of Our Own" (RCA).
-- French pop/rock act Tahiti 80's "Wallpaper for the Soul" (Minty Fresh).
-- A tribute to singer/songwriter Kris Kristofferson, "Nothing Left to Lose," featuring contributions from Creeper Lagoon, Calexico, and Grandaddy.
-- The Henry Rollins-led "Rise Above," a benefit album for accused murderers the West Memphis Three, featuring new versions of Black Flag songs voiced by such artists as Chuck D, Mike Patton, Iggy Pop, and Ice T.