Previewing new albums from Shawn Colvin, Pearl Jam, Ben Harper, and more.
'Whole New' Colvin
Although it's hardly the tactic one might suggest, Shawn Colvin says approaching her new album with "complete terror" ultimately worked for her. "Whole New You," due this week from Columbia, was "difficult from start to finish," says Colvin with a rueful laugh. "I kept thinking we would turn a corner, but it was worse than giving birth."
Despite her concerns, "Whole New You" does display an edgier, more contemplative side to Colvin. The album is "strange because of the degree to which it's sobering and even depressing," she says. The notable exception is the title track, a jangly, unsparingly upbeat, empowering tune about not being ashamed to be happy and want the best for yourself.
"There aren't a lot of songs on the album as redemptive as 'Whole New You,' but it resonated a lot with me because of becoming a parent," Colvin says. "You make a whole new person. If ever I have felt transformed by an event, this is it, for better or worse."
Pearls Of Wisdom
The third and final installment of Pearl Jam's authorized tour bootlegs (Epic) include the band's 10th anniversary show in Las Vegas and the tour closer in Seattle, which spans three discs. The band broke its own record for simultaneous debuts on The Billboard 200 when seven North American titles hit the chart earlier this month.
"I continue to be more and more blown away by how many people end up at our shows, and how many times you see the same faces," bassist Jeff Ament says. "We're in an incredibly unique situation."
This final round of shows precedes the band's first-ever concert video, "Touring Band 2000," which will be released on DVD/VHS on April 10. The video sports 28 songs from 19 different shows, while the DVD edition features an additional 50 minutes of special bonus footage.
To 'Mars' And Back
Ben Harper listened to tapes of almost every show he and his Innocent Criminals have performed over the past three years -- more than 500 in all -- in selecting the tracklist for his first Virgin live album, "Live From Mars."
"You don't really want to make a live record with more than four records out, because four records' worth of material is just so much to go through," he explains. "This way, we can take a chunk off each record and have it represent the records respectably and still be autonomous."
The set includes a disc of electric tracks plus a disc of Harper's solo acoustic performances. Among the cuts featured are "Steal My Kisses," "Burn One Down," "Please Bleed," and covers of the Verve's "The Drugs Don't Work" and Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing."
Detonate The 'Bomb'
Considering that Buckcherry burst onto the rock radar with a song called "Lit Up" and then built its reputation on explosive live shows, it's only fitting that the band's sophomore DreamWorks album is titled "Time Bomb."
The album finds the Los Angeles quintet offering ample doses of the same rambunctious attitude showcased on its self-titled, gold-certified 1999 debut. But "Time Bomb" also sees the group refine its energetic hard rock sound with a Stones-worthy sensibility and elements of classic power pop.
"It's a more melodic record than the last one, and it's a little harder," says frontman Joshua Todd. "There's more uptempo songs [because] one thing that bothered us about the first record in retrospect [was that] there's just a few too many slow-to-midtempo songs. We just wanted something out there that was going to really step up our game from the last record."
First single "Ridin'" is No. 11 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart this week.
Redman Steps Through The 'Passage'
It's been a decade since Joshua Redman placed first in the Thelonious Monk Institute's saxophone competition, earmarking him as one of the jazz world's most promising new talents. The sudden visibility (not to mention the fact that he's the son of renowned saxophonist Dewey Redman) found the young musician under intense media scrutiny, with expectations that he would become a major jazz innovator.
In the decade that followed, Redman, now 32, rose to the challenge. The latest chapter in the saxophonist's career, "Passage Of Time" (Warner Bros.) finds Redman again challenging himself, along with his working band of two years -- pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Reuben Rodriguez, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson.
"When I write, I usually come to a point of completion, where I have an idea of where a piece begins and ends," Redman explains. "With this music, every time I heard an ending, I heard a new beginning. Eventually, I realized that I was working on a number of interrelated themes that formed a larger piece of music."
Keep On 'Rollin'
Melbourne's the Living End mixes rockabilly influences with the louder sounds of punk on the trio's second album, "Roll On," due this week in the U.S. from Reprise. In its native Australia, the group had explosive success with its 1998 self-titled debut disc, which featured the hit single "Prisoner Of Society." Stints on two Warped Tours helped build the band's North American profile.
As for the album's title track, which is at rock radio now, frontman Chris Cheney says, "It's a stomping song for the underdog -- kind of a hope song, about getting past your obstacles and living to tell the tale." The Living End is currently on tour in Europe but plans to return across the Atlantic for a series of shows this summer.
Anderson's 'Got It All'
Possessing one of country music's most instantly recognizable voices, veteran artist John Anderson this week releases "Nobody's Got It All," his first new album in more than three years -- and his first on Columbia Records. The set is Anderson's 22nd major-label release on his seventh major-label imprint.
Since he bowed in 1980 with "John Anderson" on Warner Bros., the artist has been labeled as something of a comeback kid, rising from the ashes time and again to find success at radio and retail. Anderson doesn't quite see it that way. "I wish they'd quit writing me off and killing me," he says with a wry chuckle. "I never quit working or touring -- I never even threatened to."
Produced by Blake Chancey and Paul Worley, "Nobody's Got It All" features a wide palette for Anderson's expressive vocals. "I feel like we've got something to offer on this record," he says. "If the young 'uns would pay attention, they might learn something."
Additional titles hitting stores this week include modern rock act Train's "Drops Of Jupiter" (Aware/Columbia); vocalist Indie.Arie's debut album "Acoustic Soul" (Motown); a new album from rapper KRS-One, "The Sneak Attack" (Front Page/Koch); a greatest-hits set from veteran singer/songwriter Richard Thompson, "Action Packed: The Best Of The Capitol Years" (Capitol); country act Clay Walker's "Say No More" (Giant); a two-disc collection of previously unreleased material from the late rapper Tupac Shakur, "Until The End Of Time" (Interscope); pianist Keiko Matsui's "Whisper From The Mirror" (Narada); composer/violinist Jocelyn Pook's "Untold Things" (Real World); an album from members of Devo under the name the Wipeouters, "P'Twaaang!" (Tone Casualties/Never); a collection of live performances from the second stage of "Ozzfest" (Priority); and the soundtrack to the forthcoming Johnny Depp film "Blow" (Virgin).
Also out this week is an expanded edition of Bob Marley & the Wailers' reggae classic "Catch A Fire" (Island); a best-of collection from '80s rocker Billy Idol, "Greatest Hits" (EMD); a DVD Audio edition of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" (Reprise); and a third installment of Kenny Rogers favorites, "Greatest Country Hits Vol. 3" (Curb/Atlantic).