Eminem's stunt of releasing his album on Monday instead of Tuesday had the wonderful effect of causing most of the new releases to also come out on Monday. This is a strange and wonderful thing to those that follow the new releases each week, a Monday release is a rare treat.
As I mentioned before, there were a lot of interesting releases this week. I will focus on just the few that I have spent the most time with thus far.
First up, The Roots new album How I Got Over. The Roots have been consistently good for many years now and they continue to be good with the new record. The problem (if you could call it that) with The Roots is that they are always good, rarely great. Most Roots albums will have one or two standout tracks while the others kind of blend together. Still, it is better to be a little boring and predictable, but solid than to have a few smash hits mixed in with rubbish as so many other groups do.
The standout track this time is the title track, How I Got Over. The Day is another strong track featuring a nice hook by Patty Crash. The song that I was most looking forward to was Right On, allegedly featuring Joanna Newsom. The album states "featuring" and even Jimmy Fallon mentioned a couple of times on Late Night that they worked with Joanna Newsom however, it is just a sample. Had I just heard this song without expecting to hear Joanna sing some new lyrics, I would probably have been blown away, but instead I just kept waiting for something that never came. Now I feel ripped off; you know you are wrong for that ?Love! So minus points for sure for that false advertising. Overall, another solid, if somewhat boring, release from The Roots. I don't want to seem too critical, The Roots really are one of the best in hip-hop, but long-time fans will probably understand what I mean.
Another hip-hop release of note this week: Pollen: The Swarm Pt. 3 by the Wu-Tang Killa Beez. While there are a couple of highlights, this album was a disappointment. At least Rza can claim to be "green" with all of the recycling taking place on this album. We have already heard Smooth Sailing on Wu Massacre. Faced Down was on Street Life's 2005 release, though it was titled Lay Down. You Must Be Dreaming was from Diaz's 2003 album Velkommen Jjem Andres, but now in 2010 he is not credited on the song. Assed Out features a nice contribution by Method Man, but then a throwaway variation of GZA's verse from OB4CLII's We Will Rob You. And so on and so forth. Die-hard Wu fans are pretty much the only ones excited for these tertiary releases, but as die-hard fans, we already know these songs. When Wu-Tang used to put out the Wu-Chronicles albums, they featured songs with Wu family artists that were from the rap diaspora, which is fine, but the Swarm series has featured new music thus far and the first two were excellent while this one is not.
I have saved the best for last. This week marks the release of Oh Little Fire by Sarah Harmer. Sarah Harmer fans know that it has been four long years since her last album, I'm A Mountain. I'm A Mountain was a bit of a departure for Sarah, it is a folk-country album. So it has really been six years since Sarah's last pop-rock album, All of Our Names. When it has been so long and the artist has been trying different things, there is a bit of worry about what the next album will be like. I am happy to report that Sarah Harmer is back and better than ever on Oh Little Fire. Long-time fans will immediately feel like they are meeting a good friend again after many years apart and picking up right where they left off. This new album definately should be filed with You Were Here and All of Our Names at the record store in the Rock section. Standout songs include: The Theif, Captive, One Match, The Marble in Your Eye and Silverado (duet with Neko Case). My favorite song though (at least right now) has to be The City. Sarah Harmer uses her trademark vocal changes (from singing to double tracking to sudden lilting and sometimes simply speaking) to great effect here and throughout the album.
Obviously, I am a Sarah Harmer fan, so Oh Little Fire is exactly what I was hoping for. For new listeners, they will not have the prior experience with her material and will not have experienced the prolonged waiting that fans have, and thinking objectively, they might rate the album a little lower. Fans will be happy to give bonus points for simply giving us more of what we have been longing for.
Also released this week was The Five Ghosts by Stars. After listening to this album I am now certain that I am not so much a Stars fan as I am an Amy Millan fan.
Sia also has a new album, We Are Born. I could not bring myself to purchase this after listening to the samples. If someone has given it an honest listen, please let us know what you think.
What do you think of this week's albums?