Spring Music Preview: Fifty Must-Hear Albums

First looks at hot new albums from Wilco, Linkin Park, Feist, R. Kelly, and more

ROLLING STONEPosted Apr 05, 2007 10:00 AM

JUNE

Ozzy Osbourne
Black Rain
Out Early June

For Osbourne's first album of new material in five years, the metal pioneer was thrilled to be creating music again. "Better than sitting and watching Iraq getting blown to bits," says Osbourne, who brings that news-inspired imagery to some of his first political songs since "War Pigs": the fitful hard-rock riffs of "Civilize the Universe" and "Countdown's Begun."

Marilyn Manson
Eat Me, Drink Me
Out June 5th

Manson spent most of 2006 exorcising personal demons, but Halloween night proved a turning point. The next morning, Manson began writing his most honest work ever. "I've never been willing to write about myself in this way," he says, "because I didn't want to deal with the reaction from people around me." Referencing Lolita (the first single, "Heart-Shaped Glasses") and Bonnie and Clyde, and featuring car crashes around every bend, Eat Me, Drink Me is a mirror reflection of Manson's inner turmoil.

Rihanna
title tba
Out June 5th

Even though she was only two when the Eighties ended, Barbadian pop princess Rihanna is steadfastly devoted to the decade: She hit Number One last year with the "Tainted Love"-cribbing "SOS," and her new disc's standout track, "Shut Up and Drive," features the bass line from New Order's "Blue Monday." "It's edgier," Rihanna says about her new album during a break from recording a track with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake. "Umbrella," with Jay-Z, is a midtempo ballad, and "Breakin' Dishes" expresses the dinnerware-smashing fury of a woman scorned. "I know ladies can relate to that song," she says.

Queens of the Stone Age
Era Vulgaris
Out June 12th

Josh Homme was ready for surprises when he began work on the new Queens of the Stone Age album last summer. For the first time, the frontman wrote most of the songs in the studio -- an approach that resulted in raw, rocking tracks like "Sick, Sick, Sick," which swings hard and fast with the urgency of the band's 1998 debut. Joining the Queens were Trent Reznor, the Strokes' Julian Casablancas (on Casio synth guitar) and sometime QOTSA member Mark Lanegan. "I like combinations that no one would expect," says Homme. "It's the cool part of any surprise party."

Bryan Ferry
Dylanesque
Out June 19th

Ferry's very first single from his 1973 solo debut was "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," and over the years, the Roxy Music frontman has sprinkled his solo discs with choice Dylan cuts. But, he says, "For a long time I've thought, 'One day, I'm going to do a whole album of Dylan's songs -- I just feel at home with his material.' " In fall 2006, the time was finally right to record Dylanesque, on which Ferry's fragile tenor tackles eleven Dylan gems, including "Gates of Eden," "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," "Positively 4th Street" and "Make You Feel My Love." Though he had just broken ground on the first Roxy Music album since 1982, Ferry says, "I figured it would be a long project, and I thought, 'I don't want to wait two years before putting out a new record -- this would be an ideal time for me to do something quickly.' " So, on a break from a lengthy European tour, Ferry hustled his road band into a London studio and churned out Dylanesque in just a week. (Roxy man Brian Eno contributes electronics on "If Not for You.") "I just worked out the keys and the feel, and we just played them," Ferry says. "Quite often, it's the first take that made the album." There's a subdued elegance in Ferry's voice and harmonica, and his crack band follows suit. "There are a lot of great players on this album," he says. "It was a real pleasure to make, unlike some albums, which sometimes are an angst-ridden process. This was done very joyfully and spontaneously." (AUSTIN SCAGGS)

Rooney
Calling the World
Out June 19th
Key track: " When Did Your Heart Go Missing?"

In the four years since L.A. power-pop band Rooney released their debut, they took three stabs at recording a follow-up before completing Calling the World. "We're like Goldilocks: The first one was too cold, the second was too hot, the third was just right," says frontman Robert Schwartzman. "We have a lot of B sides." The end result feels like a tour of pop history, from the Culture Club-ish frolic of "When Did Your Heart Go Missing" to the Weezer-esque whine of opener "Calling the World."

M.I.A.
Kala
Out June 26th

For the follow-up to her excellent 2005 debut, rapper-producer M.I.A. adopted a globe-trotting MO: She recorded in India, Trinidad, London and Baltimore, drawing on local flavors for cuts like the amazing "Bird Flu." "At one point, I was recording with thirty Indian drummers," she says. "Indian musicians do stuff you're just never going to hear in the West. They've got seventy-two different scales -- we don't even know they exist." M.I.A. also called on some American producers, including longtime associate Diplo and her "idol," Timbaland. M.I.A. calls the diverse-sounding Kala "outsider music": "You can experiment so much with music," she says. "I think I have the most interesting-sounding record."


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