· I've been waiting for a songwriter to succinctly sum up the universal sorrow of the Iraq war without pointing fingers like a self-righteous lunatic. So God bless Graham Parker, one of the world's greatest songwriting treasures, for getting it right in a new song that I think everyone can agree on: "2,000 Funerals. " Reacting to the escalating death toll, Parker in October penned this somber masterpiece, and after performing it live a few times, has decided to release the song, he says, "before the figure 2,000 is a distant memory." Available only through iTunes and eMusic, the song is a haunting statement, no matter on which side of the fence you're dug in.

· Another digital-only release worthy of your attention came out earlier this week, benefiting Mercy Corps' rebuilding of New Orleans. Michael Stipe of R.E.M. has recorded six different versions of Joseph Arthur's "In the Sun," one of which, recorded with Chris Martin of Coldplay, will be heard during this Sunday's episode of Grey's Anatomy on ABC. Other versions include a remix by Justin Timberlake, a live take from Austin City Limits, and an "acoustic couch rehearsal" with Arthur himself. Backing the sessions are guests James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins and A Perfect Circle, and Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne.

· Matador Records has announced a nifty new "singles club" to promote the return of Mission of Burma and its upcoming The Obliterati album in May. Those who sign up will receive a different 12-inch single each week for eight weeks, with an accompanying CD single to follow a few weeks later. Each 12-inch single will be a one-sided affair, with the flip side showcasing a vinyl etching by artist Shepard Fairey, best known for his Andre the Giant stickers covering every urban landscape.

· One of the smartest music 'zines on the shelf has issued its new volume of highbrow interviews and topnotch artwork, packaged again with a CD of previously unreleased rarities. Worth searching for, Yeti #3 is a gorgeous publication that's more a book than a magazine, sporting a previously unseen 1997 conversation with William S. Burroughs, interviews with Neko Case and Devendra Banhart, assorted comics, and the design work of Galaxie 500 bassist Naomi Yang. Worth twice the price is the enclosed CD of 27 tracks from Dead Science, Terrified Kid, Iron & Wine, The Apes, Postal Service, Blues Goblins, The Robot Ate Me, and one nifty cover - Colin Meloy of The Decemberists and his live take on Morrissey's "Everyday Is Like Sunday."

· More cover craziness can be found in this week's release of The Sunny Side of the Moon: The Best of Richard Cheese on the Surfdog Records imprint. Putting his swanky, swingin' stamp on unimaginable selections from Sir Mix-A-Lot, Van Halen, the Disturbed, and Motley Crue has served the leopard-jacketed frontman well, earning a cult following for him and his Vegas backing band, Lounge Against the Machine. The new CD keeps the party going strong with 10 new big-band recordings, including Young MC's "Bust a Move," Korn's "Freak on a Leash," Radiohead's "Creep," and Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In the Wall."

Television Alert:

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno hosts The Fray tonight, Rob Thomas on Thursday, and Fiona Apple on Friday; The Late Show with David Letterman welcomes INXS on Monday; Late Night with Conan O'Brien boasts Sigur Ros this evening overnight and Aimee Mann on Thursday overnight; Last Call with Carson Daly presents Matchbox Romance this evening overnight; and Austin City Limits features Death Cab for Cutie and My Morning Jacket this weekend.

New Releases Coming Tuesday, February 14:

... and like the winds, young grasshopper, are subject to change.

Tori Amos- Fade to Red(Rhino) two-DVD collection of videos featuring an audio commentary for each clip

The Edgar Broughton Band- Bandages(Eclectic) reissue of U.K. psychedelia from 1975 featuring guest Mike Oldfield

Bullets for My Valentine- The Poison(Trustkill) headlining the Kerrang tour last month

Elliott Brood- Ambassador(Six Shooter) packaged in a faux-wood digipak with a punched one-way railway ticket in its pocket, this mesmerizing, psychedelic folk trio from Toronto creates a spaghetti western of the mind as they beat suitcases for drums and pluck away on banjo, lap steel, and piano in an old-time tent revival

Goldfrapp- "Ride a White Horse" (Mute) new single available as two separate CD singles, 12-inch vinyl, or a special DVD

Hey! Brontosaurus- Hey! Brontosaurus(Fortune) in the soul pocket of his super-chilled Galactic grooves, this new band from keyboardist Jim Greer gets under my skin with can't-shake melodies and slow-motion grinds

The Liars- "Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack" (Mute) new single

Paul Manousos- For Better or Worse(Shock and Fall Recordings) solo debut of pop pleasantries from this former member of POWER13

Bob Marley & the Wailers- One Love at Studio One(Rounder) 40-track collection of their formative years at Jamaica's groundbreaking recording studio

Mastodon- Call of the Mastodon(Relapse) collection of early studio work, with four previously unreleased tracks

Matchbook Romance- Voices(Epitaph)

Sergio Mendes- Timeless(Concord/Starbucks Hear Music) featuring hip-hop and pop talents including will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, Justin Timberlake, India.Arie, John Legend, and Jill Scott putting a new spin on bossa nova classics by the Brazilian master

Pedro- Pedro(Mush) domestic release of this instrumental hip-hop smash and the bonus Fear & Resilience EP

Saint Steven- Over the Hills/The Bastich(Eclectic) reissue from 1969 of this side project from Steven Cataldo of Ultimate Spinach, expanded with bonus tracks

The Sword- Age of Winters(Kemado) warrior-soul heavy metal with the emphasis on heavy, wall-pounding riffs

The Lucky Tomblin Band- In a Honky-Tonk Mood(Texas World) featuring guitarist Redd Volkaert and pianist Earl Poole Ball

Uncle Tupelo- No Depression(Columbia Legacy) special 180-gram audiophile vinyl reissue

Whysall Lane- Whysall Lane(Blackball) new from Richard Baluyut of Versus and Adam Pfahler of Jawbreaker

Yonder Mountain String Band- Mountain Tracks: Volume 4 (Frog Pad) featuring a live cover of the Talking Heads' "Girlfriend Is Better" and a bonus DVD of the band's tour of Europe in 2003

various artists- Gospel Music(Hyena) 18-track collection compiled by photographer Lee Friedlander and record producer Joel Dorn, featuring Slim & the Supreme Angels, Mahalia Jackson, and The Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama

various artists- I Am the Resurrection: A Tribute to John Fahey(Vanguard) celebrating the 40th anniversary of his signing to the iconic folk label, the innovative recordings of this acoustic pioneer are channeled through a who's who of indie rock including Sufjan Stevens, Devendra Banhart, the Fruit Bats, Calexico, Granddaddy, and Lee Ranaldo

various artists- Lotta Love Concert(Rhino) recorded in 1998, this live tribute to Nicolette Larson features performances from Jackson Browne, Joe Walsh, Carole King, Emmylou Harris, Jimmy Buffett, and Crosby, Stills & Nash

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