· Who says powerful things can't come in small packages? Three new books have just been released in Continuum's "33 1/3" series, waxing profound on three more five-star albums - The Velvet Underground & Nico from 1967, Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures from 1979, and Prince's Sign "O" the Times from 1987. Following previous installments by a host of sage rock critics, the authorship is again first-rate, including the music editor at Seattle Weekly, the co-founder of Boston's Fort Apache Studios, and the former editor of Pitchforkmedia.com. The book series is smart and personal in a size slightly smaller than a standard paperback. Much of a serendipitous moment is a reaction of the culture and pressures around it, and that's the journey in each of these books, weaving an album's history through rich analysis and social critique into a tight, highly researched 150 pages or less. What's next for Continuum? Two separately written volumes on The Beatles' Let It Be along with books on James Brown's Live at the Apollo and Radiohead's OK Computer.

· Some take-charge musicians have created their own boutique record-label imprints to showcase their own work and sign other talent. Serj Tankian of System of a Down is keeping busy with his Serjical Strike label, and releases the label's latest, Lynch the Weirdo by Bad Acid Trip, this Tuesday. Also due this Tuesday is Suffocate Faster's Only Time Will Tell on the new Broken Sounds label. The straight-edge full-length debut from Cincinnati, Ohio, is the latest signing to this indie label owned by Chad and Ian from New Found Glory. Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes will debut his new private label, Team Love Records, in June with the release of Wild Like Children from Omaha's Tilly & The Wall. Former Smiths' frontman Morrissey is releasing his upcoming You Are the Quarry album on his own Attack Records label next month, but more intriguing is his signing of Nancy Sinatra to the imprint. The upcoming album from the "These Boots Were Made for Walking" icon will feature her performing a new song written by Morrissey, and guests Jon Spencer, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, and members of the Smithereens and Sonic Youth.

Television Alert:

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno offers up the human train wreck called Courtney Love on Thursday, The Darkness on Monday, and David Bowie on Tuesday; The Late Show with David Letterman welcomes Damien Rice tonight and Patti Smith on Thursday; Late Night with Conan O'Brien hosts Ben Kweller this evening overnight; The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn features Blondie on Thursday overnight and Toby Lightman on Friday overnight; and Saturday Night Live's musical guest this weekend is Kelis. And look out for The Polyphonic Spree as they guest star and perform "Light & Day" on this Tuesday night's episode of Scrubs on NBC.

New Releases Coming Tuesday, April 20:
... and like the winds, young grasshopper, are subject to change

A Wilhelm Scream - Mute Print (Nitro) formerly known as Smackin' Isaiah

Afroman - Afroholic: The Even Better Times (Hungry Hustler)

The Alarm - In the Poppy Fields (Snapper) the first new music in 10 years from frontman Mike Peters, now backed by members of Generation X, Mission U.K., and Stiff Little Fingers

Alien Crime Syndicate - Ten Songs in the Key of Betrayal (Control Group) catchy riff rock featuring Joe Reineke of The Meices

Aya - Strange Flower (Naked Music) solo debut from the Lenny Kravitz and Pharcyde collaborator, soft, slow, and sexy like a cross between Sade and Beth Orton

Blackout - Evolution (Blue Note) new from jazz vibraphonist Stefon Harris

Norman & Nancy Blake - The Morning Glory Ramblers (Dualtone) covering songs by the Carter family

Breakdance Vietnam - Memories of Better Days (Broken Sounds) with guest vocalist Jordan Punkik of New Found Glory on "Graves & Mistakes"

Kevin Breit - John & The Sisters (Northern Blues) solo album from this member of Norah Jones' band

Bright Eyes/Neva Dinova - One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels (Crank) nifty six-track EP with each band playing three of the other's songs

Lloyd Cole - Etc. (One Little Indian) "lost album" of rare tracks and covers of Bob Dylan's "You're a Big Girl Now" and Karen Black's "Memphis"

Demolition Dollrods - On (Swami) new album featuring Danny Doll Rod of the Gories

Drowning Pool - Desensitized (Wind-Up) with new vocalist Jason "Gong" Jones

Fear Factory - Archetype (Liquid 8) featuring a cover of Nirvana's "School" and a bonus DVD

From Bubblegum to Sky - Nothing Sadder Than Lonely Queen (Eenie Meenie) second album from Mario Hernandez of Ciao Bella

Jerry Garcia - All Good Things: The Jerry Garcia Studio Sessions (Rhino) six-CD box set featuring covers of the Beatles' "Dear Prudence," the Rolling Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together," and Warren Zevon's "Accidentally Like a Martyr"

The Hangmen - Loteria (Acetate) another fantastic album of snotty country-tinged swagger storming the walls

Sophie B. Hawkins - Wilderness (Trumpet Swan/Lightyear)

Peter Himmelman - My Fabulous Plum (Majestic) new family-friendly music and winner of the Parents Choice Award

Kottonmouth Kings - Fire It Up (Suburban Noise) all new, featuring a bonus DVD

The M's - The M's (Brilliante) collection of three EPs

Nu-Mark - Hands on (Sequence) solo debut from the Jurassic 5 member, with guests Key Kool and Jeru the Damaja

Rockpile - Seconds of Pleasure (Columbia Legacy) re-issue from 1980 featuring Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds, now with seven bonus tracks

Les Savy Fav - Inches (Frenchkiss) featuring a bonus DVD, this 18-track collection features compelling art-punk from early seven-inch singles and "puzzle" cover art

Sharks & Minnows - The Cost of Living (Two Sheds) smart pop from Atlanta

Gene Simmons - Asshole (Sanctuary) with tracks co-written with Bob Dylan and Frank Zappa

Steriogram - Schmack! (Capitol) look for the video for "Walkie Talkie Man" by director Michel Gondry

Thelonious Monster - California Clam Chowder (Lakeshore) interesting collection of new 15 songs written and performed in the vein of Elton John, Beck, Oasis, The Ramones, The Germs, Big Star, The Jam, and more

Fontaine Toups - T.F.T. (Teenbeat) new from the former Versus member

Tweaker - The Attraction to All Things Uncertain (Waxploitation/iMUSIC) with guests Robert Smith of The Cure, David Sylvain of Japan, and Will Oldham of Palace Brothers

various artists - Split Series 9-16 (Fat Cat) terrific compilation of rare 12-inch tracks from Matmos, David Grubbs, Kid 606, Dat Politics, and more

Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society - Hangover Music Volume VI (Spitfire) new from Ozzy's guitarist, featuring a tribute to Layne Stanley of Alice in Chains and a piano cover of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale"

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