· More blues-based salvation can be found in the 88-key gospel of The Reverend Billy C. Wirtz and his Sermon of Bethlehem CD on the Blind Pig Records imprint. Highlights include the rasslin' tales of "Sleeper Hold on Satan" and "Grandma Vs. the Crusher," and the blue-state/red-state rant of "Do the Toleration." Anyone who can throw witty lines such as "I went out with a girl who designed the Etch A Sketch / She disappeared without a trace" in "Female Troubles" gets a happy nod in my book.
· Saddle Creek Records puts a nifty spin on the "LPs sound better, but how do I squish 'em in my iPod?" quandary. Next week the label debuts its "digital vinyl" concept with the new Two Gallants release What the Toll Tells. Purchasers of the vinyl LP version will find a special code inside with which they can go to Saddle Creek's Web site for a one-time download of the entire album in the MP3 format.
· Philadelphia's Drexel University is putting real-world experience into the hands of its students with next week's release of Dreams Don't Count by master songwriter Jules Shear on Mad Dragon Records. Best known for his songs recorded by others, including Cyndi Lauper ("All Through the Night") and the Bangles ("If She Knew What She Wants"), the original MTV Unplugged host is trying something new with this album, as Mad Dragon is run completely by the students of the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. I'm not sure if courses in "cocaine and whores as promotional tools" or "advance payola" will be offered.
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson welcomes Fiona Apple on Friday overnight; Jimmy Kimmel Live hosts Yellowcard this evening overnight and Queens of the Stone Age on Friday overnight; and Austin City Limits presents John Fogerty this weekend.
New Releases Coming Tuesday, February 19:
... and like the winds, young grasshopper, are subject to change.
Arab Strap - The Last Romance (Transdreamer) featuring bonus tracks on this domestic issue
Artic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (Domino) domestic release
Bad Religion - Live at the Palladium (Epitaph) DVD featuring a piano version of "Cease" and rare footage from the early 1980s' New Wave Theater
Eef Barzelay - Bitter Honey (SpinArt) new acoustic solo album from founder of Clem Snide, featuring his take on the classic "Joy to the World"
Billy Bragg - Volume One (Yep Roc) seven-CD box set of newly reissued albums - also due individually today - with two-bonus DVDs and a 48-page book
Agnes Chan - Forget Yourself (Bungalo) featuring a cover of Stevie Nicks' "Beautiful Child" and guest J.R. Richard of Dishwalla
B.J. Cole - Trouble in Paradise (Silverline) recently turning 60, this steel pedal guitar master now slides into slippery DJ territory with Luke Vibert, A3, Bent, Trash Palace and other hip collaborators
Cowboy Mouth - Voodoo Shoppe (Eleven Thirty) featuring the songs "The Avenue" and "Home," newly written by this popular New Orleans band after the devastation of hurricane Katrina
Dilated Peoples - 20/20 (ABB) CD and two-LP set with guests Talib Kweli, Dr. Greenthumb, and Krondon
Elbow - Leaders of the Free World (V2) CD or special CD/DVD set with alternative videos for every song
Grand National - Kicking the National Habit (Recall) domestic issue of this smooth, danceable British hit reminiscent of New Order, featuring seven bonus tracks and the video of "Drink to Moving on"
Chihei Hatakeyama - Minima Moralia (Kranky) solo album of icy-cool textural samplings of treated guitars by the member of Tokyo's Opitope
The Holy Fire - In the Name of the World (Militia Group) six-song CD EP produced by Flaming Lips bassist Michael Ivins
Janis Ian - Folk Is the New Black (Rude Girl/Cooking Vinyl) cleverly name-checking Ma Rainey, Tennessee Williams, and J. Edgar Hoover in "Danger Danger"
KCUF - Modern Primitive Punk (Corporate Punishment/Total Assault) fronted by "Crazy White" Sean, this super-group of sorts features members of Korn, Slipknot, Amen, and Snot
Last Laugh - No Regrets (Suburban Noize) Florida punk featuring a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black"
The Loved Ones - Keep Your Heart (Fat Wreck) featuring members of Trial by Fire, Kid Dynamite, and The Cursed
The M's - Future Women (Polyvinyl) on tour now with Archer Prewitt
Kirsty MacColl - Titanic Days: Deluxe Edition (ZTT) reissue from 1994 of this "divorce" album, now expanded with rare mixes and B sides
Willie Nile - Streets of New York (00:02:59 Records) with guests Jakob Dylan and Rami Jaffee of the Wallflowers, this critically acclaimed new album features a cover of Eddy Grant's "Police on My Back," made famous by the Clash
Prefuse 73 - Security Screenings (Warp) scrambled-eggs mind mischief in this instrumental cut and splice-audio collage, both mellow-sweet and hyper-scattered
Liam Prodigy - Back to Mine (DMC/Studio) Liam Howlett's personal CD mix of tracks from P.I.L., The Specials, Public Enemy, The Jam, and more
The Proposition - original motion picture soundtrack (Mute) music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
Santana - Santana III: The Legacy Edition (Columbia Legacy) with a bonus CD recorded live at the Fillmore West in July 1971
Slave to the System - Slave to the System (Spitfire) debut featuring members of Queensryche and Brother Cane
The Society of Rockets - Where the Grass Grows Black (Underpop) excellent, uproarious debut of 1970s-style boogie rock and Southern Comfort sunset anthems
Street Drum Corps - Street Drum Corps (Warcon) featured on the Taste of Chaos tour; produced by DJ Lethal and boasting a bonus live DVD
Tempest - The Double-Cross (Magna Carta) Celtic rock for pirates, inspired by the adventures of Captain Kidd
They Shoot Horses Don't They? - Boo Hoo Hoo Boo (Kill Rock Stars) brown-acid freak-outs worshiping at the alter of Captain Beefheart
Le Volume Courbe - I Killed My Best Friend (Honest Jons/Astralwerks) with guests David Roback and Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star, Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, and Martin Duffy of Primal Scream
Wicked Wisdom - Wicked Wisdom (Suburban Noize) featuring actress Jada Pinkett Smith on vocals and Fishbone's Phillip "Fish" Fisher on drums
Bird York - Wicked Little High (Narada) with her music and seductive voice featured in handfuls of television dramas, this major-label debut contains the haunting "In the Deep," heard recently in the film Crash