Music fans have
barely recovered from Chicago's extraordinary summer -- having
indulged in more than our fair share of diverse sounds at
Lollapalooza, Intonation, Pitchfork and other festivals -- and now
the fall is upon us, and with it the major labels' biggest album
releases of the year and a return to a packed schedule of indoor
theater and arena concerts.
Pop music's MVP
(most valuable performer) comes in the surprising form of an ex-boy
band stud. "FutureSex/LoveSounds" (Jive) ***1/2, the second solo
album from former 'N Sync heartthrob Justin Timberlake, arrives in
record stores on Tuesday, and while some fans didn't seem to know
what to make of the dark, moody and heavily electronic single, "SexyBack,"
JT was just warming up. The much-anticipated follow-up to 2002's
solo debut "Justified" shows more range -- in fact, it's a veritable
sampler of cutting-edge pop, dance and R&B sounds -- as well as
being every bit as much of a guilty pleasure.
by Timberlake himself in collaboration with the fabulously inventive
Timbaland -- and with other tracks credited to the artist and Rick
Rubin or will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas -- the disc also features
the now-obligatory slew of star cameos, including Three 6 Mafia, T.I.,
Snoop Dogg and two noteworthy duets, with Nelly Furtado on "Crowd
Control" and India.Arie on "Nocturne." But the 25-year-old
Memphis-bred singer is definitely the star of the show as every
track but one -- "Losing My Way," which tells the sad story of a
life ruined by crystal meth -- fits into the concept indicated by
the title, exploring the dichotomy between sex and love.
harder than he did on "Justified" to show his range as a performer
-- even if it's his charisma and ambition rather than his voice that
makes him a star -- Timberlake gives us sensual slow jams ("My Love"
and "(Another Song) All Over Again"), indelible pop tunes ("What
Goes Around Comes Around" (which isn't about ex-paramour Britney
Spears, he swears), pumping club jams ("Chop Me Up" and "LoveStoned/I
Think She Knows") and hip-hop-tinged R&B ("Damn Girl," "Pose").
Yeah, sure, the cooler-than-cool loverman act can be a bit much at
times -- at one point, JT boasts of going "from Casanova to
supernova" -- but it's hard not to admire anybody who tries so
hard to please, and who succeeds so often.
pop and R&B fans have already started the debate about who's the
more significant artist: Timberlake or Usher. There's no question
that the latter is making the more original recordings, but having
seen them both in concert, I have to say that Timberlake put on a
much better show during his intimate club performance at the House
of Blues last month, fronting a kicking 11-piece band, than Usher
did at the Allstate Arena in 2004, where much of the rather stilted
show was pre-programmed. Unfortunately, most fans will have to wait
until early 2007 for JT's own arena tour.The
long-running indie-rockers from Hoboken, N.J., deliver more of their
familiar mix of noise-rock and lulling pop tunes with the added
twist of a groovy horn section on their new album, "I Am Not Afraid
of You and I Will Beat Your Ass," which arrives from Matador Records
on Tuesday. And while the group was great in concert last summer at
the Pitchfork Music Festival, it should be even better in the
confines of a theater.
Oct. 5 at the
Vic Theatre. Tickets are $23.50 through Ticketmaster, (312)
support of the musically and emotionally powerful solo album
"Highway Companion" -- and hinting that he may be retiring from the
road -- Petty and his veteran backing band the Heartbreakers come to
Chicago in an inspired pairing with the Strokes.
Friday at Charter One Pavilion on Northerly Island. Tickets are
$49.50-$89.50, through Ticketmaster.
After years of
wrangling for a major-label deal -- and months of delays once he
found one with Atlantic Records -- Chicago's next potential hip-hop
superstar will finally drop his debut album "Food and Liquor" on
Sept. 19, building on the success of his unforgettable single,
Taking stock of
a much-acclaimed career pushing the boundaries of art- (please don't
call it "post-") rock, the Chicago instrumental combo celebrates the
recent release of its three-disc box set "A Lazarus Taxon" (Thrill
Jockey) with what is sure to be a steamy performance sure to sell
Sept. 29 at
the Empty Bottle. Tickets are $15; call (773) 276-3600 or visit
Yeah, I know: He
will never be as good without his old mate David Gilmour, and there
are disquieting rumors that many of the former Pink Floyd
songwriter's vocals are now on tape. But, hey, the rock legend tours
only rarely, and after a set of his solo material, he'll play all of
"The Dark Side of the Moon." What self-respecting Floyd fan could
even think of missing that?
Sept. 29 at
the First Midwest Bank Amphitheater in Tinley Park. Tickets are $20
-$132, through Ticketmaster.
The more I
listen to this idiosyncratic pop-R&B star's recent fourth album "Kelis
Was Here," the more I love it, and the chance to spend a Saturday
night with her in the intimate setting of Metro should be something
Oct. 7 at
Metro. Tickets are $26 in advance, $29.50 at the door; visit
release of their second major-label album "Ten Silver Drops" found
the now Brooklyn-based psychedelic rockers expanding their sound in
intriguing ways, and they were a highlight at Lollapalooza last
Oct. 9 at
Park West. Tickets are $20, through Ticketmaster.
The fact that
they're coming back to Soldier Field -- when they'll no doubt have
heaters onstage but we'll be breaking out our winter coats -- is not
a good sign: The Stones always pander to the lowest common
denominator with the most tired hits when they play the stadiums, as
opposed to the arenas or (we can only hope we live to see this
again) really cool venues such as the Aragon or the Double Door. But
since this is the second time through town on the current tour, we
can at least hope they'll flex their creative muscles and dig deeper
than "Honky Tonk Woman" and "Brown Sugar."
Oct. 11 at
Soldier Field. Tickets are $60-$165, through Ticketmaster.
cranky old legends who don't tour much, the singer-songwriter
delivered a real "Surprise" indeed last May, working with Brian Eno
to craft an inventive album with a sound all its own. Will it
translate in concert?
Oct. 16 at
the Rosemont Theatre. Tickets are $65-$85, through Ticketmaster.
dramatically different, but I think people will see it as a growth
and an extension for me," the R&B singer and songwriter said of his
new album, "Once Again" (Sony), in an interview with the Associated
Press. Among the promised treats: a duet with the queen of
hip-hop/soul, Mary J. Blige. The album arrives in stores on Oct. 24.