Big-deal bands drop discs in '06

Alternative rock band the Flaming Lips will release a new CD titled “At War With the Mystics” this spring.

Special to The Sun
Published: Friday, January 20, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 19, 2006 at 11:17 p.m.
If CD sales continue their decline in 2006, it won't be for a lack of trying. Any number of the most exciting artists of the past two decades, from Radiohead and Flaming Lips to OutKast and the Fugees, are hitting the streets with new releases in a year that promises to be a tough one for narrowing best-of lists to just 10 records.
Here's a look at some of this year's most anticipated records.
The most anticipated album of the year won't drop until this summer at the earliest. Thom Yorke told British mag NME the band is going through a period of change - but in a good way, likening the sudden change, if not the sound itself, to "Kid A." In October, he posted the following message at "It's us, no denying it. But that's cool. . . . I like it. It has its own power. Can't fight that, I suppose. Although I see it as my duty to try."
The Flaming Lips: Due April 4 here in the States, "At War With the Mystics" is the long-awaited follow-up to "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots." One new song, "The W.A.N.D.," is now available for download. A new CD single, "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" (inspired not, as you'd imagine, by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs so much as Queen), will follow on March 27 in the U.K. Wayne Coyne told Billboard the Lips have been "trying to get some of that heavy rock 'n' roll with heavy guitar riffs. . . . On the last couple of records, we've tried to be more expressive in beautiful ways. But sometimes, volume and intensity are great, too."
Wilco: This one may or may not see the light of day in 2006. Jeff Tweedy has another Loose Fur album in the works, and Wilco did just put a live one out in mid-November. But Tweedy told Billboard the band has been working on 13 songs at its Chicago practice space, including one rocker the singer described as being "about as straightforward and as dumb as anything I've ever written." Not that we suspect that means he's turned back on the envelope-pushing of the past two albums.
Cat Power: Based on early buzz, a brilliant lead-off single and the fact that 2003's "You Are Free" was just a masterpiece, "The Greatest" is already shaping up to be the first true album of the year contender for 2006, due Tuesday. She recorded the album in Memphis with producer Stuart Sikes (who mixed Loretta Lynn's amazing "Van Lear Rose") and session players from the area, including members of Al Green's band, fleshing out the songs with horns and strings. May lead to love and happiness.
Arcade Fire: This band's first proper album, "Funeral," was Pitchfork's album of 2004, and by the time the UK caught the buzz, Uncut declared it Album of 2005. Now, NME reports that the band has acquired a church in which to cut the follow-up it hopes to have in stores before the year is out. Until then, fans can get their fix with "Cold Wind" on the "Six Feet Under" soundtrack.
OutKast: Big Boi spoke to Rolling Stone about the duo's long-awaited follow-up to "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," the soundtrack to a feature film called "Idlewild." "We're having a hard time picking the single," he said. "There are four songs that we really love, and we just want to make sure we pick the right one to come out with first." It's worth noting the film is set in the Depression-era South.
Drive-By Truckers: "A Blessing and a Curse" is due in April. Until then, fans can sample music and find news about the album at www.blessingand There's also a note from the Truckers at the band's official Web site encouraging fans to share the wealth that is their new material: "No one will be chasing after ya for trading it, so share freely."
Shins: Indie-rock heroes the Shins are home recording their third album, due this summer, with Phil Ek, the same producer they used on 2003's amazing "Chutes Too Narrow." In December, James Mercer told Pitchfork the sound of the album is likely to range from finger-picking folk to one song that reminded him of old My Bloody Valentine.
Gnarls Barkley: This mash-up of eccentric Southern rapper Cee-Lo and the even more eccentric Danger Mouse (who's in the running for producer of the year at this year's Grammys) looks to be among the more inventive hip-hop albums of the year. As Cee-Lo told AllHipHop News, "We are the perfect combination." Sample snippets at
Prince: In the wake of the funk-rocking brilliance that was "Musicology," Prince inks a deal with Universal and drops "3121," a title that would seem to indicate a long-awaited sequel to his classic "1999." "Te Amo Corazon," the lead-off single, is reportedly more Latin-flavored than the album as a whole.
Fugees: Well, it's been 10 years, but Sony swears the reunited Fugees will be hitting record stores before the year is out.

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