Once again, it's time to roll through all of the new albums that hit stores today. There's no surprises this week, just a solid slab of listenability that has something for every pair of ears. Enough dissembling, let's get to the jams.
Katy Perry - Teenage Dream - I dunno, man. I'm not really on board the Katy Perry bandwagon. Sure, she's very attractive, but there's just something about her that seems - what is it, robotic? Like she was grown in a nutrient tank to crap out pure nuggets of radio-ready pop music replete with annoying hooks and Snoop Dogg cameos. But what do I know? "California Gurls" is like the biggest song in a million years. She did make Russell Brand suck, though.
!!! - Strange Weather Isn't It - This NYC (by way of Sacramento) art-funk outfit is one of the best things to come out of the city's occasionally moribund music scene in the last decade. Stripped-down, groove-laden songs that recall the best of the 99 Records releases. Their fourth album, Strange Weather, Isn't It isn't expected to pack many surprises, but that's fine by me. Watch the video for "AM/FM."
Fantasia - Back To Me - The former American Idol standout has been going through a rough patch of gravel lately, what with the suicide attempt and all. However, there's no denying that the lady has pipes. Back To Me is her third studio album, and hopefully it'll get the singer back on track and out of the tabloids.
Usher - Versus - Okay, yes, Usher did unleash the plague that is Justin Bieber upon the world. Hey may never be forgiven for that. But you can't take away the fact that the man makes really great music. Versus is a follow-up to his hit album Raymond Vs. Raymond from earlier in the year, featuring seven new tracks and guests including Jay-Z, Pitbull, and... Justin Bieber. Argh.
Ra Ra Riot - The Orchard - This upstate New York indie band are a hidden gem, and you'd do well to get on board with their second full album, which was written and recorded in a bucolic peach orchard - hence the name. There'll also be a documentary film about the making of the record, if that's the kind of thing you like to put in your Netflix queue.