Looking ahead: May 2007-July 2007

How much does a release schedule suck that I don’t even bother to write a column about it? The last time I looked ahead was back in January. Heck, I don’t think anything was released in April to get my attention.

I’ve seen articles criticizing the major labels’ habit of stacking all the best releases for the end of the year. With so many releases by big name artists hitting at one time, releases that deserve attention are bound to fall through the cracks. What’s that saying about too much of a good thing?

I’ll give this column the old college try, but man … do I miss ICE magazine.

Rufus Wainwright, Release the Stars, May 15

I don’t know how it happened. When Wainwright debuted, he struck me as precocious, and his voice annoyed me. Now? I have every album of his except the self-titled debut. And I’m sure I’m going to get this one too. So perhaps I should give the debut another chance, huh?

Various artists, Revolutions: Music with a Twist, May 15

Sony sure has some guts launching a label for gay-identified artists. Not because of any gestures toward social justice but because, well, I’ve never really been impressed with gay musicians. I’ve got my favorites, and two of them — the Gossip and Dylan Rice — are on the compilation. But every time I’ve ever tried to seek out gay pop and rock music that I like, I usually come away empty-handed. This disc is already available on iTunes, and of course, they make Ivri Lider sing in English instead of Yiddish.

Onitsuka Chihiro, "Everyhome", May 30

Onitsuka is reportedly working at a pace more conducive for her health, and really, that’s good news. Because the Japanese pop machine has a far too brutal release schedule.

bloodthirsty butchers, Guitarist wo Korosanaide, May 16

toddle, dawn praise the world, June 8

toddle’s debut album was good but not exactly great. And sometimes I get the impression a lot of knob twiddling by Yoshimura Hideki covered up the band’s shortcomings. I’m not setting my expectations terribly high for the second album. As for the butchers themselves, they’ve been together for 20 years. At this point, everyone knows what to expect. The surprise will be whether they can outperform the laser focus of banging the drum.

UA, Golden Green, June 20

"Ougon no Midori/Love scenes" finds UA going back to the pop sound of her first three albums. For the last five years, UA indulged her very avant-garde muse that hasn’t had much room for hooks. And UA sounds divine when she’s singing a hook.

Cocco, Kirakira, July 25

Zansaian found Cocco easing up a bit of the intensity and losing something as a result. The 18-track Kirakira sounds like there’s a lot of music that probably hasn’t gone through a QA filter. Still, the idea she has an eight-year old son singing on a track still blows my mind.

Quruli, TBD, June 27

Nikki sucked. And I didn’t even go there with the Rip Slyme collaboration.

Sinéad O’Connor, Theology, June 12

I will always have a soft spot for Sinéad O’Connor, but she’s kind of spread herself thin after Faith & Courage.

Queens of the Stone Age, Era Vulgaris, June 12

Josh Homme is teh Cute, but that last album didn’t really rock at all.

The White Stripes, Icky Thump, June 19

I might start paying attention again if they go back to guitars and drums.

Smashing Pumpkins, Zeitgeist, July 7

Zwan’s second album.

Minnie Driver, Seastories, July 10

Let me once again quote Driver’s own sister about Minnie’s music: "I’m really liking this new Dido album."