Brooks & Dunn
Don’t be fooled. The duo’s hit ”Proud of the House We Built” celebrates long-term faithfulness and domesticity in a manner country radio loves. But the CD is mostly a soundtrack for sowing wild oats, from its honky-tonky anthems to its surprisingly Stonesy guitar riffs.
Songs of Mass Destruction
The new CD by the ex-Eurythmic features the ambitious ”Sing,” a feminist anthem featuring 23 female vocalists, from Madonna to Melissa Etheridge to Fergie.
Band of Horses
Cease to Begin
The pastoral, beard-y rockers, whose majestic 2006 debut, Everything All the Time, became a sleeper hit, return with an intimate, countrified follow-up produced by Phil Ek (Built to Spill, Modest Mouse).
Heroes & Thieves
Since 2004’s Harmonium, Carlton has run the New York City Marathon and jogged into the welcoming corporate arms of hip-hop label Murder Inc. The latter’s chief, Irv Gotti, was on hand when the singer recently performed tracks from this third CD for EW in her Manhattan apartment. However, it is the influence of mentor Stevie Nicks that is evident on the ballad ”Home” and the single ”Lolita Fairytale.”
Robert Plant / Alison Krauss
The upcoming, Ahmet Ertegun-honoring Led Zep reunion is not a huge surprise. A CD-length collaboration between rock god Plant and bluegrass queen Krauss? Much more so. But, in covering the likes of Tom Waits, the Everly Brothers, and Doc Watson, the harmonizing pair have discovered an unlikely, but lovely, middle ground.
The Thrills have been delighting fans of jangly, ultra-melodic indie rock since their debut in 2003. Now on their third studio effort, the Irish band return with more sweet, mandolinicious ditties to tug at the heartstrings. It’s no big departure — which makes the song ”Nothing Changes Around Here” so appropriate — but in their case, that’s a good, even thrilling, thing.
Metalcore went mainstream in 2005 with Avenged Sevenfold’s MTV smash ”Bat Country,” and the Southern California band continues to trip the dark fantastic on this self-titled release, a blur of punishing guitars and menacing vocals.
Helm owned one of rock’s most beautifully sad voices even before having to endure both a battle with throat cancer and the 1999 death of fellow Band member Rick Danko. Predictably, the drummer’s first solo studio album in 25 years — which includes a cover of Steve Earle’s ”The Mountain” — is not lacking in perfectly honed country-folk mournfulness.
I’m Not There
How many acts must a man — in this case director Todd Haynes — put on the soundtrack of a Dylan biopic? The answer, my friends, is a lot: Jeff Tweedy, Sonic Youth, Karen O, Mason Jennings, Eddie Vedder, Cat Power, Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson… Bob himself, meanwhile, is there in the form of a 1967 recording of the title track.
Little Big Town
A Place to Land
This Nashville coed quartet scanned over a million of their last album, without ever rising above No. 51 on the Billboard 200 chart. But they’re country more in name than in twang. If rock fans starved for melody hear new songs like ”Fine Line,” LBT could cross over in a big way.
For his fifth CD, Seal draws on the thumping drums of his house-music roots and the expertise of Madonna producer Stuart Price. With its blasting synths, the title track should heat up dance floors, while ”Wedding Day” — written on the morning of his marriage to Heidi Klum — is a sweet cooldown.
As Yet Untitled
The success of Carey’s comeback CD, 2005’s The Emancipation of Mimi, owed as much to producer Jermaine Dupri as it did to the singer’s mighty pipes. So it’s no wonder Carey reteamed with the knob twiddler for her beat-driven follow-up, also featuring tracks by Stargate (Rihanna’s ”Unfaithful”) and will.i.am. Written and reported by Clark Collis, Josette Compton, Leah Greenblatt, David Greenwald, Shirley Halperin, Beth Johnson, Time Stack, Simon Vozick-Levinson, Margeaux Watson, Chris Willman