Previewing new albums from N*E*R*D, Destiny's Child, Bob Mould, B2K, and more.
'Search' And Ye Shall Find
Production duo the Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo) have spent the past few years churning out hits for the likes of Britney Spears, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and 'N Sync with ease. But when it came time for their artist debut with rapper Shay as N*E*R*D, the process wasn't quite as painless. "In Search Of...," due this week from Virgin, has been delayed countless times once the group decided to replace programmed beats with live instrumentation after the album had already been sent out to media last summer.
"The THC level wasn't high enough," group member Pharrell Williams said in a cryptic statement last fall. "We not only wanted you to see things, we wanted you to see things your way. There are no stars on this album. You're a star. And this is your life."
Whatever the reason for the change, "In Search Of..." is a blend of hip-hop, soul, rock, and funk that manages to be everything you would expect from the group and like nothing you've heard before. The politically driven lead single "Lapdance" is as infectious as it is disturbing. "The whole idea is to raise political awareness among the youth because they're not really thinking about that," Williams says. "They don't like to be preached to, so you tell them in a cool way."
I Don't Think You're Ready For This 'Remix'
Destiny's Child has gathered 12 remixes and alternate versions of its songs for "This Is the Remix," due this week from Columbia. The set features previously released remixes of such hits as "Bootylicious" (remixed by Rockwilder), "Say My Name" (remixed by Timbaland), "No, No, No Part 2" and "Bug a Boo" (both featuring Wyclef Jean), and "Emotion" (remixed by the Neptunes).
Other tracks featured on "This Is the Remix" include a remix of "Survivor" featuring Da Brat, Azza's Nu Soul mix of "Nasty Girl," an extended remix of "Jumpin', Jumpin'" featuring Lil Bow Wow, Jermaine Dupri, and Da Brat, and Maurice Joshua's remixes of "So Good" and a live version of "Bills, Bills, Bills."
The upcoming release, as well as group member Michelle Williams' gospel album "My Heart to Yours" (due April 16 from Columbia), is intended to tide over fans awaiting the next Destiny's Child studio set. Group members Kelly Rowland and Beyonce Knowles are also planning solo projects in the coming months. In addition, Knowles stars as Foxy Cleopatra in the third "Austin Powers" film, which opens July 26 in U.S. theaters.
Who You 'B'?
Music's teen scene can be a fickle one, but that doesn't seem to be a problem for B2K, Epic's entry in that ever-changing sweepstakes. The male teen foursome already racked up five weeks at No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Sales chart with lead single "Uh Huh" in advance of its eponymous Epic album, due this week.
"It's very energetic, because we like to dance," member J-Boog says. "We like people to feel joyful and youthful -- that they can do whatever they want to do if they put their minds to it." Guest producers on B2K's debut set include Jermaine Dupri, Rodney Jerkins, and newcomer Beau Dozier, son of Lamont Dozier (one-third of Motown's songwriting trio Holland-Dozier-Holland).
In addition to "Uh Huh," written by J-Boog and Lil Fizz, the album includes the group-penned "B2K Is Hot." But it isn't all dance all the time, as the group also weighs in with several ballads, including the upcoming second single, "Gots Ta Be." "When people hear our music I want them to just be full of joy and happiness," says group member Omarion.
What About Bob?
Veteran rock artist Bob Mould says his new solo album "Modulate" had a long gestation process, as the former Husker Du/Sugar frontman began writing songs for it in early 1999, after finishing a tour for 1998's "The Last Dog and Pony Show," his final collection for Rykodisc. But Mould took a sidetrack from the fall of 1999 through early 2000, when the artist -- an avid pro wrestling fan -- worked as a creative consultant for Turner Broadcasting's World Championship Wrestling (WCW). "I helped steer the product and the storylines and the characters," Mould says of his stint with the WCW.
After a few months of down time in 2000, Mould went back to work on the album, due this week via his own Granary Music label. "I bought some new software packages to work with for sequencing and programming and picked up the guitar again, and tons of stuff started flyin' out," he says. "And it was all fresh and new and informed by a whole different style of music that I had started listening to -- a lot of trance and techno stuff, a lot of different DJs, Sasha & Digweed's stuff, Nick Warren, Paul Van Dyk, as well as really digging the second Garbage album, which was not that different from that stuff."
"Modulate," which Mould recorded entirely solo, incorporates the beats and sonic textures of contemporary electronic and dance music in a way sure to baffle some of the artist's longtime fans. But it also frequently displays the rip-roaring guitar power of Mould's earlier band and solo work, reflecting the musician's time-tested melodic craft and emotional directness. "I keep trying to find different ways to say the same things," he says with a self-deprecating laugh. "I think that's what my life is destined to be." Mould will promote the set with Carnival of Light and Sound, a U.S. solo tour of small theaters that kicks off March 26 in Athens, Ga.
Additional titles hitting stores this week include:
-- Roadrunner's "Resident Evil" soundtrack, with new mixes of tracks from Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, the Crystal Method, Static X, Mudvayne, and more.
-- a new album from female rock duo Indigo Girls, "Become You" (Epic).
-- modern rock act eels' "Souljacker" (DreamWorks).
-- jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval's "My Passion for the Piano" (Crescent Moon/Columbia).
-- vocal innovator Bobby McFerrin's "Beyond Words" (Blue Note).
-- a concert album from international chart-toppers the Corrs, "VH1 Presents... Live in Dublin" (Lava/Atlantic).
-- actress Bernadette Peters' "... Loves Rodgers and Hammerstein" (Angel).
-- Latin vocalist Luis Fonsi's "Amor Secreto" (Universal Latino).
-- saxophonist Kenny Garrett's "Happy People" (Warner Bros.).
-- new albums from underground rock outfits Hot Rod Circuit, "Sorry About Tomorrow" (Vagrant); and the Supersuckers, "Must've Been Live" (Mid-Fi).
-- new-age pianist David Lanz's "The Romantic (Narada).
-- instrumental jazz trio Soulive's "Next" (Blue Note).
-- a collection from composer Michael Nyman, "Film Music 1980-2001" (Virgin).
-- the various artists set "Japan For Sale Volume 2" (Columbia/Sony Music Japan/Musicrama), featuring DJ Krush, L'Arc-en'Ciel, and Puffy Amiyumi.