25. Johnette Napolitano-Scarred
27. Stephen Marley-Mind Control
29. Soulsavers-Itâ€™s Not How Far You Fall, Itâ€™s How You Land (review)
Three major label albums that seem disparate, but actually make for a nice shuffle playlist. Or, to say it another way: Three great tastes that go great together. First, Johnette Napolitanoâ€™s new album is as dark and depressing as youâ€™d expect from the former frontwoman of L.A.â€™s semi-underground alt-rock cult â€œConcrete Blonde.â€ I saw CB in concert three times back in the day, and few bands could get a crowd as whipped up as them (at least without having a mosh pit). Napolitano has mellowed a bit, eschewing some of the rancor of her older material (see: God is a Bullet, Still In Hollywood) for a softer dark vision of the world, offering a phenomenal cover of Velvet Undergroundâ€™s â€œAll Tomorrowâ€™s Parties.â€ But she can still kick it up on tunes like, â€œSave Meâ€ and â€œScarred.â€ And her cover of Coldplayâ€™s â€œThe Scientistâ€ blows away any other cover of that tune.
But after hearing this record, youâ€™ll probably be drained and disillusioned, so turn right to the latest offspring of the Legend himself. Stephen Marleyâ€™s new one is nowhere near as good as Jr. Gongâ€™s, â€œWelcome to Jamrock,â€ but itâ€™s still a very-much slept-on release. The title track and single is unsurprising but catchy, but deeper cuts like â€œHey Baby,â€ featuring Mos Def, and â€œIron Bars,â€ with brother Julian, are great examples of modern hip-hop/reggae.
Looking to come down after the party? Turn to Soulsavers. Mark Lanegan is all over this record, with his deep rich voice, doing originals and covers in the Southern gospel style. Not to be missed: The closing, extended cover of â€œNo Expectationsâ€ by The Rolling Stones.
Note: These are all major label releases.