Pop Music Preview


Beta Band
On album, this Scottish outfit’s mix of Sgt. Pepper-inspired psychedelia, comical guitar-rock, and hip-hop beats is beguiling; live, it’s enthralling. And don’t miss their spoof on Bonnie Tyler’s vampy “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” (Irving Plaza, September 9.)

Once soul music’s brightest hope, Maxwell wasted his talent on the New Age treacle of last year’s Embrya, but his career has rebounded with the slinky single “Fortunate,” from the soundtrack to Life. And his fans – at least a couple of whom have named babies after the singer – will be out in force for his first New York performance in more than a year, swooning at his every move. (The Theater at Madison Square Garden, September 10-12.)

Dave Matthews Band
These blues- and funk-loving Southerners have always been picked on by critics for their tendency to jam way past curfew. But amid this year’s crop of teenyboppers and misogynist rap-rockers, this multiracial band and its affable front man seem like the coming of the Enlightenment. (Continental Airlines Arena, September 11.)

CMJ MusicFest Opening Night
The marathon CMJ (College Music Journal) MusicFest presents music in venues all over town from September 15 to 18 and kicks off with an especially strong night of performances from Jurassic 5 and Femi Kuti, the son of Afro-beat legend Fela Kuti. (The Roxy, September 15.)

The Chemical Brothers
Back when electronica was the next big thing, the Chemical Brothers crashed the Billboard Top 20 with the Godzilla-stomp beats of Dig Your Own Hole. Now that the hype has mostly blown over, their subtler follow-up, Surrender, hasn’t fared as well commercially. But unlike most of their stage-shy peers, the Chemicals always deliver a live set full of psychedelic visuals and block-rockin’ beats. (Hammerstein Ballroom, September 15-16.)

Matador’s “A Nice Weekend in New York City”
Celebrate the tenth anniversary of New York’s little indie label that could with the edgy rock acts that established them (Pavement, Yo La Tengo), new groups in the same vein (Guitar Wolf, Chavez), and the electronica and hip-hop the company has come to embrace (Red Snapper, the Arsonists). (Irving Plaza, September 23-25.)

Celia Cruz
Celia Cruz’s more than 50 albums (many on the legendary Fania label) have quite simply defined salsa music. Don’t miss the legendary Latin diva when she graces the very small stage of S.O.B.’s. (S.O.B.’s, October 6-7.)

Tony Bennett
Thirty years ago, the silken-voiced Tony Bennett was the first pop singer to perform solo at Carnegie Hall. Now, after his MTV-fed flirtation with the pop-culture spotlight, he returns to perform material from his latest CD, Bennett Sings Ellington/Hot and Cool. (Carnegie Hall, October 6.)

Like the Grateful Dead, these Vermont nouveau-hippies play marathon live shows, encourage die-hard fans to trade tapes of their concerts, and have a Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream flavor named after them. The two groups also share a willingness to experiment onstage as well as a cultlike following: The uninitiated may be bored stiff. (Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, October 7-8.)

Jonathan Richman
Unlike other aging rockers, Jonathan Richman has never pandered to audiences with nostalgia-heavy sets. And whether he’s singing about highways, art museums, or lesbian bars, he’s remained one of the most engaging voices in pop. (Knitting Factory, October 14-16.)

Elton John
Given his recent filing for bankruptcy, Elton John’s two-night stand at Madison Square Garden could be billed as a benefit concert – for himself. But true fans of Sir Elton will be happy to know that this isn’t one of his guest-artist-clogged live gigs, like his stints in the eighties with George Michael. This time out, the “Rocket Man” will be flying solo. (Madison Square Garden, October 15-16.)

Ricky Martin
His English-language debut landed Latin music on top of the charts and him on numerous magazine covers, but Ricky Martin has yet to show whether he’ll captivate in concert the way he did in his star-making Grammy performance or fall into the lunk-headed persona that shows through in his latest video. (Madison Square Garden, October 28-29.)


David Murray Octet
David Murray has blown minds for more than twenty years scaling the upper registers of the tenor sax, and his avant-jazz – the high-register noise that critic Lester Bangs once called “skronk” – should be in fine form at this subterranean nightspot. (Iridium, September 28-October 3.)

Jimmy Smith Trio
In the fifties and sixties, Jimmy Smith revolutionized the playing of the Hammond organ; in the nineties, his “Root Down” was sampled by the Beastie Boys. And unlike other jazz players of that era, Smith has soaked up a panoply of influences from funk to blues to southern soul. (Iridium, October 12-17.)

Featuring Kenny Barron, Gary Bartz, Ben Riley, Buster Williams Originally a Thelonious Monk-tribute band, Sphere has evolved into a jazz powerhouse of its own. Whether they’re resurrecting Monk classics or performing their own material, Sphere’s virtuosity is nearly unparalleled. (Village Vanguard, November 30-December 5.)


The Notorious B.I.G.
Born Again Posthumous Tupac Shakur albums have become as predictable as Rolling Stones reunions, but fans are still waiting to hear leftover tracks from the Notorious B.I.G. Born Again, which was assembled by Puff Daddy and a team of Bad Boy A&R men, features outtakes and revamped material from the rapper’s tragically shortened career. (Bad Boy/Arista, September 7.)

Dr. Dre
The Chronic 2001 Earlier this summer, former Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight took the “Chronic 2000” title Dr. Dre was planning to use for his long-awaited comeback. The producer should have more luck with the album itself, which revisits the funky hip-hop turf Dre all but invented, with a little help from rappers Eminem and Snoop Doggy Dogg. (Interscope, September 7.)

John Popper
Zygote Blues Traveler frontman John Popper is known for his harmonica solos, but his first solo album is subdued and folky; it sounds like Popper has been brushing up on his Cat Stevens. (A&M, September 7.)

Crown Royal A decade after their reign ended, the self-proclaimed “Kings of Rock” are trying to regain the throne. This time, they’re trading the religious rap of their last, failed comeback for the good-natured braggadocio that made them famous in the first place. (Arista, September 14.)

Mos Def
Black on Both Sides Mos Def is the self-deprecating half of the New York underground-hip-hop duo Black Star, and his solo singles, like “The Universal Magnetic,” are full of loopy fun. At a time when hip-hop is full of humorless gangsters, his solo debut album should be a breath of fresh air. (Rawkus, September 14.)

Ronnie Spector
She Talks to Rainbows The former Ronettes front woman had girl-power long before it was cool, so her album of classic rock covers should fit right in on the riot-grrrl-powered Olympia, Washington-based independent label Kill Rock Stars. (Kill Rock Stars, September 14.)

Ol’ Dirty Bastard
Nigga Please ODB’s arrest record is much better known than his music, which is a shame, because this Wu-Tanger’s 1995 solo album Return to the 36 Chambers is one of the most off-kilter hip-hop albums in history. In case you think ODB has lost his power to surprise, his follow-up includes a Billie Holliday cover. (Elektra, September 14.)

Terror Squad
Terror Squad the Album This Wu-Tang Clan-like hip-hop supergroup boasts two bona fide stars – Fat Joe and Big Punisher. Weighing in well over 200 pounds, each is a literal hip-hop heavyweight, and Pun’s jocular persona should perfectly balance out Joe’s Mafia-don image. (Atlantic, September 21.)

Tori Amos
To Venus and Back The enigmatic Amos has always been equally at home with the New Age piano vamps of Kate Bush and the gargantuan riffs of Led Zeppelin. Here’s hoping one track, “Glory of the 80’s,” celebrates the singer’s previous life as a hair-metal diva. (September 21, Atlantic.)

Nine Inch Nails
The Fragile Trent Reznor hasn’t released an album for five years, but if his new single “Starfuckers, Inc.” is any indication, he’s still just as sleazy and bent out of shape. (Interscope, September 21.)

Chris Cornell
Euphoria Morning As the singer of Soundgarden, Chris Cornell made grunge grandiose on songs like “Black Hole Sun.” Nearly three years after the demise of the band – and several more after the death of grunge – Cornell is coming back with a strikingly slick collection of stripped-down rock. (A&M, September 21.)

Ben Harper
Burn to Shine Singer-songwriter Ben Harper has always mixed folk, rock, and Delta blues, but his fourth album makes the blend more commercially palatable. (Virgin, September 21.)

Brand New Day After trying on everything from reggae to jazz fusion, former Police-man Sting returns to world-music-influenced pop. Since it’s a late-1999 release from a New Ager, there are meditations on the millennium (“A Thousand Years”) and musings on what the future will bring (“Tomorrow We’ll See”). (A&M, September 28.)

Marc Anthony
Marc Anthony Ricky Martin conquered the Billboard charts in the name of Latin pop, but now it’s Marc Anthony’s turn to fight his own battle – this time in the name of authentic Latin music. Expectations – both creative and commercial – are high. (Columbia, September 28.)

David Bowie
Hours … Some of Bowie’s recent strange changes – notably his flirtation with drum ‘n’ bass on Earthling – haven’t exactly moved him forward. So he’s looking backward with ambient rock that recalls his Hunky Dory days with a modern twist. (Virgin, October 5.)

The Distance to Here Live’s serious, passionate rock makes Michael Stipe look like a class clown – and it’s won them one of the most devout followings in pop. If they can keep it after releasing their fourth record, they’ll also be one of the longer-lasting rock groups on the charts. (Radioactive/MCA, October 5.)

Melissa Etheridge
Breakdown Melissa Etheridge’s follow-up to her massively successful 1995 album Your Little Secret is full of the gritty rockers she’s become known for, including one titled “Mama I’m Strange.” What could she be referring to? (Island/Def Jam, October 5.)

Jessica Simpson
Sweet Kisses Sony boss Tommy Mottola is betting this Dallas-bred pop singer will follow Britney Spears to teen idol-dom. With Simpson’s silky voice and Lolita-esque looks, Sony stockholders have nothing to worry about. (Sony, October 5.)

Les Rythmes Digitales
Darkdancer Obsessed with France and futurism, Les Rythmes Digitales is neither: He’s an eighties-obsessed Englishman who never got tired of synth-poppers like Depeche Mode. (Astralwerks, October 5.)

Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
The X-Ray Style Bands like Rancid borrowed the Clash’s politics and ska-punk sound. Now the ex-Clash front man returns the favor by releasing an album on Rancid front man Tim Armstrong’s Hellcat label. (Hellcat/Epitaph, October 19.)

Handsome Boy Modeling School
So … How’s Your Girl? The latest project from pioneering producer Prince Paul can best be described as a hip-hop musical about a male modeling school. It’s a bizarre concept, but Cibo Matto’s Miho Hatori, De La Soul’s Trugoy, Atari Teenage Riot’s Alec Empire, Beastie Boys collaborator Money Mark, and Dr. Octagon producer Dan “the Automator” Nakamura are all in on the joke. (Tommy Boy, October 19.)

Bob Marley
A Rebel’s Dream An all-star cast of rappers including Lauryn Hill, Eyrkah Badu, the Roots, and Busta Rhymes pay tribute to the reggae legend by adding vocals to original Bob Marley tracks. Purists may cry foul, but the project (helmed by Marley’s son, Stephen) offers respectful takes on a formidable legacy. (Island/Def Jam, October 26.)

Mariah Carey
Rainbow Fans who weren’t sated with Mariah Carey’s greatest-hits collection No. 1’s – you know who you are – can expect more of the high-gloss R&B of her summer hit “Heartbreaker.” (Columbia, November 2.)

Will Smith
Willenium It wasn’t hard not to be wild about Wild Wild West, but Will Smith will surely provide more than his fair share of sample-fueled hits on his follow-up to the hugely successful Big Willie Style. Bonus: Only two more months of millennium albums. (Columbia, November 9.)

Fiona Apple
When The Pawn Hits The Conflicts He Thinks Like A King What He Knows Throws The Blows When He Goes To The Fight And He’ll Win The Whole Thing ‘Fore He Enters The Ring There’s No Body To Batter When You’re Mind Is You’re Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand And Remember That Depth is The Greatest Of Heights And If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where To Land And If You Fall It Won’t Matter, Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right. It’s no joke: This poem is the full title of Fiona Apple’s long-awaited follow-up to the tortured teenage blues of her debut. ‘Nuff said. (Clean Slate/Epic, November 9.)

What musical style(s) Beck will tackle after the tropicalia- and folk-inspired Mutations and the sampladelic genius of Odelay is anybody’s guess. But there’s no doubt that his as-yet-untitled project will provide plenty of postmodern thrills. (Interscope, November 16.)

Pop Music Preview