LP Release Tuesday: August 30th, 2011

By Joseph Giannone 2011-08-30 22:31:08
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There have been plenty of albums over the years that have been either reveled over for months after or forgotten about just as quickly. That’s the case for so many bands coming out with a variety of different records every month. When my parents were still finding new music, the limited amount of bands that were actually “famous” was dismal compared to the amount of groups that get attention today. During my era of rock stars, divas and musicians, there are ten of those acts for every one my parents listened to. Is that a good thing? Maybe so, maybe not. It really depends on who you ask.

There are obviously some albums that will go down in history as “the best” or “the definitive” of my era, like Radiohead’s Kid A or Nirvana’s Nevermind, but compared to albums like Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon and Led Zeppelin’s IV, maybe the quality of music is better when a lesser amount of groups are taking up the airwaves compared to the endless amount of music that is coming out week after week. Kanye West and Jay-Z's Watch the Throne, depending on who you ask, may have been a disappointment. Now is that a sign that the artist with an endless amount of fans will care less about their work? Or is it maybe that a group with less fans will care more about their releases? If so, then why did groups like Rush, Public Enemy and Metallica never cease to amaze fans no matter how many they had? Even Lady Gaga is not shy about topping herself, even when she doesn’t necessarily have too. This is just food for thought…

This week’s set of releases is a common story about groups taking their chances at making albums again. It features a number of groups who seem to be fond of their deteriorating motive for making creative efforts when fans will accept anything they put out but also others eager to make their marks. Does having a larger fanbase make a group more or less likely to succeed? The Zachary Francis Condon led Beirut is back with their latest album The Rip Tide. Also the Red Hot Chili Peppers, minus John Frusciante, have finally returned after a timely hiatus and will show whether or not the band is susceptible to not having many fans after their disappearing act. The most fascinating release this week is the fourth installment of Lil Wayne’s Carter series The Carter 4. And with his massive fan base, will the dreadlocked king of hip-hop make the grade? Here’s this week’s LP releases:

LP Release Tuesday
5) Beirut The Rip Tide
The indie head runner Beirut has been around since 2006, and since then he’s been acquiring a slow, but steady fan base. Zachary Condon’s music combines the elements of Eastern European and Balkan folk with his own unique spin on Western pop music. His fuse of mainstream indie rock and world music make his records always a unique experience. In 2007 when his album The Flying Club Cup came into fruition, his fame quickly rose, but it’s been four years since his last endeavor. Since that record, he’s brought together a full band and has amassed some different sounds for his latest work.

Beirut’s newest album, The Rip Tide, Channels his most creative work in a massive upbringing of indie pop. With the LP coming out today, it only begs the previous question even further. Does having a smaller fan base require, or even give the musician further ambition, to attempt to create a better work of art? I believe so.

LP Release Tuesday
4) The Nightwatchmen World Wide Rebel Songs
One of the finest metal-funk-rap bands in the past twenty years—was that genre even around before 1990?—was Rage Against the Machine. Due in part to the band's talented set of musicians, Tom Morello helped channel most of the band's unbridled success. After releasing records for Rage, Street Sweeper Social Club and Audioslave, the guitarist has started a new endeavor that might be the greatest of all his work. The Nightwatchmen, as Morello explained, is “my political folk alter ego. I've been writing these songs and playing them at open mic nights with friends for some time. This is the first time I've toured with it. When I play open mic nights, I'm announced as The Nightwatchman. There will be kids there who are fans of my electric guitar playing, and you see them there scratching their heads.”

Not only is that a pretty awesome idea for a band, which is similar to the likes of Billy Bragg, it also inadvertenly brings back the good ol’ political folk that Buffalo Springfield, Bob Dylan and Country Joe and The Fish made famous. His latest record is World Wide Rebel Songs. Besides having a perfect name for a political record, and album cover, sources say that this latest effort from the critically acclaimed artist is just as good or even better than his previous efforts under that moniker like The Fabled City and One Man Revolution. What’s even better is that this is also the second album made by him this year, with Union Town that came out in May. Be excited, people.

LP Release Tuesday
3) Lenny Kravitz Black and White America
Lenny Kravitz is a well known rock star whose outrageous stage persona and even more eccentric music is similar to the amazing set of albums he’s released. Inspired by “retro” artists like Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and The Who, Kravitz has made himself a career out of making music that can be loved by the young and old for its older feeling and obvious past influences. Just a fun fact; not only is the multi-instrumentalist a rock star, but he’s also an actor. Most recently, he’s been working on a role in The Hunger Games and had a guest appearance in the hit show Entourage.

Yet, with his eclectic career, large fan base and status as a famous musician, Lenny has amassed a sensible size of hit records. His latest album has been highly anticipated for the past few months, called appropriately Black and White America, and will probably be just another entry into his already impressive career. The guitarist is a magnificent musician and hopefully his talent, and the money he makes from his records, will translate well into how progressive and unique this LP will be. Time will tell.

LP Release Tuesday
2) Red Hot Chili Peppers I’m With You
The Red Hot Chili Peppers is a group that has a fantastic following with their fans spanning age groups from multiple generations. The LA band has been testing their prominent form of funk rock for almost thirty years. The band is headed by singer Anthony Kiedis, who has experienced darker addictions to various drugs multiple times throughout the band's career, and Flea, a multi-instrumentalist with an amazing stage presence that can’t be compared to anyone else. By both of their standards, that's pretty much the quintessential reason for why they are famous.

Though the group has experienced their fair share of fame, they haven’t been in the limelight since 2006’s Stadium Arcadium. Even then they didn't receive the same amount of massive acclaim when Californication was released in 1999, hopefully this dismal time for the group has passed, because they've finally turned over a new leaf. With their latest record out this week, entitled I’m With You, it shows the group evolving in real time. With John Frusciante swapped out for Josh Klinghoffer, the acclaimed California group will surely explore new territory on this latest effort. Will it be good? Who knows, but what's for certain is that it will surely sharpen their fan base once again.

LP Release Tuesday
1) Lil’ Wayne The Carter IV
Like Anthony Kiedis, Lil Wayne has also had his fair share of trouble over the years. His addiction to cough syrup, or the comically named “Purple drink,” facilitated a downfall for the rapper and, for a while, his good name. In 2009 The Carter documentary was released and showcased the rapper's addiction, but it was quickly pulled in fear of giving him a bad image. His albums that aren’t a part of the Carter series, like the dreadful Rebirth, are mostly failed attempts to capture the power he has over his audience on those former efforts. Even though I have ripped on the rapper for being shallow, he does have some semblance of lyricism that’s creative.

His latest album to permeate from the long awaited third Carter album… The Carter 3, is well… The Carter 4. Despite repetitive album names, as I stated above they have a certain level of creativity that is bounded by his effort in these works. Everyone could tell that he half-assed his “rock album” Rebirth, but the eccentric rapper has given his special time and effort into this loved series. Maybe that’s for the best, though. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

With all of the efforts that have come out this week, maybe there is hope we'll find something worthwhile. Or maybe the summer is a time for a plethora of ailing records from bands who couldn't really care less find their way into stores. I guess we won't know until we listen.
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