Previewing new albums from Bruce Springsteen, Linkin Park, Linda Thompson, Beth Orton, and more.
The 'Rising' Tide
Rock troubadour Bruce Springsteen returns this week with "The Rising" (Columbia) -- his first album of new material since 1995's "The Ghost of Tom Joad" and his first full set with the legendary E Street Band since 1984's "Born in the U.S.A." Produced by Brendan O'Brien (Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam), the albums centers thematically on the events Sept. 11 and those affected by the attacks.
O'Brien manages to take Springsteen to uncharted waters on at least one song ("World's Apart") but for the most part the music doesn't sound particularly unlike the artist's most recent studio efforts. The album's best songs ("Into the Fire," "You're Missing," "Paradise") find Springsteen revisiting the contemplative mid-tempo rock of "Streets of Philadelphia," while a handful of less enjoyable numbers ("Countin' on a Miracle," "Let's Be Friends") rely more on an outdated '80s pop sense. The subtle lyrics and bare arrangements of the slower tunes (which ironically lack nearly any E Street contribution) seem to have a spark the more elaborate numbers lack.
Springsteen and company embark on a 46-city tour Aug. 7 in East Rutherford, New Jersey, a run which is expected to extend well into 2003, with stops in Europe, Australia, and an eventual return to the U.S. Springsteen is also scheduled for a series of television appearances, including a segment tomorrow (July 30) on the "Today" show, two appearances on "The Late Show with David Letterman" later this week, and an Aug. 29 performance at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Linkin Park's "Reanimation" (Warner Bros.) features new interpretations of tracks from the group's multi-platinum debut "Hybrid Theory" with guest spots from members of Korn, Staind, Deftones, and Jurassic 5, among others. Other guests include rapper Pharoahe Monch, Orgy's Jay Gordon, the Roots' Black Thought, and rapper Aceyalone.
Vocalist/MC Mike Shinoda says the project is much more involved than a simple remix album. "This album is much more than putting a beat over the old vocals; these songs have new parts, new words, new melodies, and new themes," he said. "Rather than having the remixer submit a final piece of work, we've collaborated in the writing process. Some songs have been simply trading files; some have involved sitting down and re-writing entire sections of the song."
Shinoda produced the 20-track set with mixing assistance from Mark "Spike" Stent (Bjork, Massive Attack). "We went out and got artists whom we've always admired and feel are at the absolute top level of what they do creatively," says Linkin Park DJ Joe Hahn. "As a result, what you hear represents the kind of music we've always wanted to make our entire lives."
'Late' In The Evening
There's more than just a little irony in the title of Linda Thompson's new album, "Fashionably Late," due this week from Rounder. It's her first album of new material since 1985's "One Clear Moment," due in part to the artist's battle with hysterical dysphonia, a psychological disorder that prevented her from producing speech.
"I suppose it's still a factor -- a bit like stage fright," she says. "Whatever foibles I have now," she adds, "I work them into the show." Indeed, Thompson is looking ahead to September for her first U.S. tour dates since she joined her ex-husband, Richard Thompson, in support of their 1982 masterpiece, "Shoot Out the Lights."
"Fashionably Late," she notes, "harks back to the earlier things I did with Richard, back to where my heart is in music: pretty firmly lodged in acoustic stuff, story telling, and good, old-fashioned melodies and lyrics." Most of the material on the Edward Haber-produced album was co-written by Linda and her son Teddy, who also performs on the album, as does her daughter, Kamila. Other notable guests include Van Dyke Parks, Rufus Wainwright, fellow Brit-folk alumni Martin and Eliza Carthy, and even Richard, who pitches in on guitar and vocals on lead track "Dear Mary."
Light Of 'Day'
Most would probably imagine that as Beth Orton toured Europe and America in support of her sophomore set, the celebrated "Central Reservation," the young British folkie was having the time of her life. Already plagued by a non-fatal yet highly painful intestinal disorder known as Chron's disease, Orton (whose third album, "Daybreaker," arrives this week on Astralwerks) says she found that, after the tour, she considered calling it quits, asking herself, "Which is more important -- being healthy or making albums and touring?"
She was so troubled, Orton says, that there was a "clearing of the palette" after she grew tired of touring, interviews, and even the very thing that was making her a star -- her songwriting. "I got full up to the brim with it all -- songwriting, music, words, people, and all this kind of analysis of, like, what it is that I'm doing and all that."
Ironically, by turning her back on her craft for a while, Orton says she has fallen even more deeply in love with what she does. She gets almost giddy talking about the artists with whom she collaborated on "Daybreaker": Ryan Adams, Emmylou Harris, the Chemical Brothers, and Everything but the Girl's Ben Watt. The new album is equally devoted to her loves for electronica and folk; her voice floats over mellotrons and upright-bass tracks one minute, only to slide across a slyly engineered Chemical Brothers track the next. Orton tours North America through late August.
-- A new album from modern rock act Filter, "The Amalgamut" (Reprise), featuring the rock airplay hit "Where Do We Go From Here."
-- Veteran U.K. hard rock act Def Leppard's "X" (Island).
-- Soul Asylum frontman Dave Pirner, "Faces and Names" (Ultimatum).
-- A five-CD, career-spanning box set from progressive rock outfit Yes, "In a Word, Yes (1969-)" (Rhino).
-- A solo album from Austrian-born singer/songwriter and Afro-Celt Sound System collaborator Pina Kollars, "Quick Look" (Real World).
-- Hard rock act Fear Factory's "Concrete" (Roadrunner).
-- Country artist Kathy Mattea's "Roses" (Narada).