April Showers

BY JEFF LEVEN

Next week might quietly be the most exciting week in music in years. With some of the VH-1 blue-chips (Sheryl Crow), Oprah audience favorites (Celine Dion), and persistent crap-ola (Alanis) already in stores, now is the time for a slew of more subtle releases that represent a total deluge of musical treats. Here is just a sampling of all the fantastic stuff coming out April 23:

To begin with, this is a banner week for the college radio DJ class of, oh, say, 1987. First off, the reclusive, erratic, and legendary Paul Westerberg (formerly of the Replacements) is releasing Stereo/Mono, a double album. After spending most of his solo albums focusing on his softer side and saving the gritty punk of his Replacements days for his pseudo-side-project Grandpaboy, Westerberg has decided to put his split personality in one package — one side featuring his more sensitive and poppy numbers, while the other, he promises, is all about the rock that we knew he still had in him. Following closely on the heels of the Goo Goo Dolls’ most recent release (after all, they are his most obvious disciples), this will certainly be music to the ears of the faithful and a reminder to the rest.

If Westerberg spent much of his career being irreverent and drunk and loud and transcendent, American Music Club legend Mark Eitzel spent most of his being sad and drunk and subtle and transcendent. This week, he releases Music for Courage and Confidence, a full set of covers. Another stalwart of the indie past releasing an album this week is Elvis Costello. And, no Burt Bacharach isn’t around for the proceedings.

Those who liked their critics’ favorites a little more electronic will be excited to hear that none other than the Pet Shop Boys will be putting out an album (aptly named Release) on Tuesday, and plan to tour on it this summer. For a more surrealistic take on electronica, look no further than DJ Spooky, who will release a double disc.

Remember “Brimful of Asha” (on the 45!)? Well, with a little help from their friends in Oasis, England’s Cornershop will release their much-anticipated (and strangely named) Handcream for a Generation this week. Badly Drawn Boy, England’s answer to either Beck or Elliot Smith — and sometimes both — releases his latest in the States as well. Another notable Brit release is the latest from Gomez, In Our Gun. Meanwhile, some of my fellow staff members will be happy to note that Pulp plans to release We Love Life (which the RECORD reviewed weeks ago) in the United States this week. Looking elsewhere among the Commonwealth’s musical offerings, New Zealand’s excellent indie rock supergroup Luna will release Romantica. Also note: Both Cornershop and Luna are scheduled to appear at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston during the first two weeks in May.

Elsewhere in the indie scene, Wilco will finally release Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in CD form (having streamed it online), but only as former guitarist Jay Bennett & collaborator Edward Butch release their first project, The Palace at 4AM, and Jeff Tweedy releases his first solo album, Chelsea Walls.

Fresh emo hits the stores as well, as The Promise Ring releases Wood/Water while it’s trip-hop time for the Sneaker Pimps on Bloodsport — though without their former female lead singer, what’s the point? For some hip, rather than trip, to go with your hop, look no further than the return of Naughty by Nature, if you’re still down with OPP.

On the jazz scene, look for reissues of music by Duke Ellington, Wes Montgomery, and Count Basie.

Of local note, up-and-coming Boston label Fenway Recordings will release Osaka, the new release by The Kickovers, a band spearheaded by ex-Mighty Mighty Bosstones guitarist Nate Albert and ex-Weezer bassist Mikey Welsh.

Whew. So there are just some of the 143 rock albums, 27 rap albums and 73 jazz albums coming out in this exciting, exciting bonanza of new music!

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