There”s a passel of great stuff coming out this week, split between the traditional Tuesday release date and Monday, as labels try to squeeze in an extra day of SoundScan sales into the chart week , but the undisputed leader is the two-CD set, “This is It,” the audio companion to the Michael Jackson concert film that opens in theaters Oct. 28. Here”s a look at the top titles streeting this week.
Devendra Banhart, “What Will We Be” (Reprise): On his first major label release, the long-haired leader of the “freak folk” movement lets his freak flag fly with his own brand of often sunny and sweet, if quirky, tunes.
Creed, “Full Circle” (Wind-Up): Yes, the Scott-Stapp-fronted rockers are back after a five-year break up. The question is has anyone missed them? If the reception to the first single is any indication, their core fans are waiting. “Overcome” reached No. 5 on Billboard”s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
Jack Johnson, “En Concert” (Brushfire/Universal): Surfer dude-turned- multi-platinum soft rock singer returns with his CD/DVD set that chronicles his 2008 European tour in a documentary directed by Johnson”s manager, Emmett Malloy. The CD also includes material from some U.S. dates, including Johnson”s Bonnaroo duet with Pearl Jam”s Eddie Vedder on “Constellations.”
Michael Jackson, “This is It” (Sony): You might not have heard about it because there hasn”t really been any press, but there”s a little concert film opening Oct. 28 called “This is It.” This companion 2-CD set contains many of Jackson”s greatest hits captured at rehearsals, as well as new song, the title track, and demos of such now-Jackson classics as “Beat It” and “Wanna Be Startin” Something.” We have a hunch this is going to come in at No. 1.
Brian McKnight, “Evolution of a Man” (E1 Music): Smooth and sexy R&B crooner continues to expand his empire as a radio DJ and now TV talk-show host, but he hasn”t abandoned singing. On his latest, he”s joined by Stevie Wonder and Jill Scott.
Orianthi, “Believe” (Geffen): Blond-tressed, Aussie guitar slinger has been getting plenty of press as Michael Jackson”s lead guitarist on “This is It,” but she”s been around for long before that, playing with the likes of Carlos Santana, Prince and Carrie Underwood. Might some consider it a bit tacky for her to exploit his Jackson”s death by releasing her major label debut the day before “This is It” comes out? Only if they aren”t in the music industry.
Rod Stewart, “Soulbook” (J): For better or worse, no one cares about Stewart originals any more, so for the last decade, he”s made his coin by covering classic catalogs including the Great American Songbook. Now, he”s turning to vintage soul tunes from the ’60s and ’70s, which a much more suited to his raspy voice and his mindset, as these are songs he”s long raved about loving. He”s joined by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Hudson.
Sting, “If on a Winter”s Night….” (Deutsche Grammophon): The Police-man pays tribute to his favorite season in this collection of traditional carols and lullabies, plus two originals. Some of the material dates back to the 14th century. First his salute to the lute in 2006 and now this… what”s next? An album of Gregorian chants?
The Swell Season, “Strict Joy” (Anti-/Epitaph): Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova may not be a romantic couple anymore, but they still make beautiful music together on this, the follow-up to their Oscar-wining soundtrack for “Once.” Here, they”re supported by members of Hansard”s band The Frames, as well as a raft of other supporting players.
Tegan and Sara, “Sainthood” (Vapor/Sire): Canadian twins called on former touring partner, Death Cab for Cutie”s Chris Walla, to produce their latest set, based around the concept of, you got it, sainthood. Somehow, they make it sound really fun, especially on driving, jangly first single, “Hell.” The siblings wrote tunes together for the first time and recorded with a full band live in the studio.
Wolfmother, “Cosmic Egg” (Modular/Interscope): All that remains of the original Wolfmother trio is leader/songwriter Andrew Stockdale, but he has recruited three new band mates to round Wolfmother up to a quartet. Plus, they”ve brought in Slash to play on their heavy rock/psychedelic/jam mix for this set.