The Majak Mixtape - Tunesday (3/22/11)

Greetings and salutations Mixtapers! Welcome to another stunning, flawless, amazing, giving you NEW ALBUM REALNESS better than your favorite edition of the Majak Mixtape, where pop culture goes when it doesn't want to talk to Brooke Burke while waiting for the judges' score. We're back with another edition of Tunesday, our weekly celebration of all the new music releases of the week. We're bursting at the seams with great albums this week as we see the returns of an R and B diva as well as an embattled R and B singer plus the return of some hipster heroes and a band whose song titles were often more creative than their melodies. But before we get to the on-slaught of all the new tunes, let us get to the tea!

Last night was the season 12 premiere of the I CAN'T FEST that is ABC's reality competition juggernaut known as "Dancing With The Stars," the definition of "star" more loose than a Kardashian. This season has brought us another smattering of stars that make you say WHO THE HELL and THEY'RE STILL ALIVE with the likes of "Karate Kid" star Ralph Macchio, "Loveline" co-host with the ridiculously painful sounding name of Mike Catherwood, our girl talk show host Wendy Williams, former kid rap star Romeo and "Fat Actress" Kirstie Alley as well as E! starlet Kendra Wilkinson, football player Hines Ward, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, model Petra Nemcova, some Disney actress Chelsea Kane.

We've never actually sat through a full episode of this high-stepping trainwreck ever before, and we know we feel like we've missed out on snarking gold with this show. From Brooke Burke's goiter flower dress of doom to professional dancer Lacey Schwimmer's shameful dark roots to Wendy Williams using her hair wig to double has a handkerchief while crying during rehearsals, you simply have to adore the gaudy charm of this whole thing.

Well, as long as you have this damn thing on mute. That backing band? WE CAN'T with that foolishness. Seriously, there isn't one performing arts school in all of Los Angeles that they couldn't use for their backing band? You know some pushy-ass stage parents would be all over having their Little Susie or Johnny Benet Ramsay there to give us some ON PITCH REALNESS because they are desperately serving OUT OF BREATH REALNESS right now. Seriously, when Gwyneth Paltrow can do a better version of "Forget You" than you or Kelly "Destiny's Back-Up Singer" Rowland's "When Love Takes Over" is too vocally challenging for you, you and your tired vocals need to sit down. All the way down.

How this show has become quite the phenom isn't that big of a mystery to us. What's a mystery is that people watch this show in abundance and then wonder why something like Rebecca Black's "Friday" takes off. Really? Their both cut from the same tacky-ass cloth of pop culture desperation.

Anyway, we're totally in for the season just to see how many ways Ralph Macchio can make his hair look like a toupee, how many wigs Wendy Williams will cry through and how often the dried remains that is Hugh Hefner will shuffle out of the Mansion to watch Kendra dance.

In other bits of ABC tea, Chris Brown, who has a new album out this week, has shown off how well those anger management courses have paid off as he broke a window in his dressing room and left in a butthurt tizzy after "Good Morning America" reporter Robin Roberts had the fresh nerve to ask about the Rihanna situation. Chris Brown went out to tweet to his fans: "I'm so over people bringing this past s--- up!!! Yet we praise Charlie Sheen and other celebs for there [sic] bullshit." In Chris Brown's defense, maybe the window asked for it.

Speaking of the Charlie Sheen, when he isn't busily locking lips with Jimmy Kimmel, he's being ordered to have a psych exam in order to have contact with his two children according to reports. Meanwhile, a whole wing at Betty Ford is being constructed for those two kids because with Sheen and Brooke Mueller as your parents, there is little to no doubt that you're royally, two and a half times screwed for basically the rest of your natural life and maybe even in the hereafter.

Backflip your way into the rest of the post and keep reading about Tunesday!

We kick off this week's edition of Tunesday with the return of the Strokes with their fourth album "Angles." We've been a huge fan of The Strokes since their debut album "Is This It," an album so sort of ridiculously strong from beginning to end that you could almost mistake it for a greatest hits package of hit singles instead of the debut work of a new band. With that sort of strength to lead-off with as well as all of the buzz that surrounded them as they were allegedly going to be the big saviors of rock-and-roll as they along with bands like The Hives and The Vines and others started storming the charts, The Strokes found themselves in the always precarious position of being too popular for their own good. With the release of their second album "Room on Fire," they found themselves in the midst of a bit of Strokes backlash as people bitched and moaned about Julian Casablancas' tendency to sound completely unintelligible on tracks on the album.

By the time their last album "First Impressions of Earth" came out, The Strokes seemed to be itching to move apart from each other. Thankfully, after some solo projects, the band has returned in fine form with "Angles." Is this album "Is This It 2: Electric Hipsterloo"? Nope. And it shouldn't be either. The Strokes have married their garage rockish sound with dashes of the ever popular 1980s New Wave sound. While albums like "Room on Fire" and "First Impressions" often times felt more bloated than Leonardo DiCaprio's face, "Angles" is a slim, concise piece of work that doesn't mess around. Here are a couple of our favorite tracks from the album:

Next up, Jennifer Hudson is back with a brand new album titled "I Remember Me." Ms. Hudson has gone through a lot of changes since her self-titled debut album from 2008. She's gotten married, had a baby, starred in a film as Winnie Mandela, sang at the Super Bowl and overcame the very public tragedy of her mother, sister and nephew being murdered in Chicago. That's a lot. If Fantasia can have a Lifetime Film, we think J-Hud deserves her own mini-series. With all of these changes in her life, J-Hud has come back out with an album that is gleefully un-trendy. You have to hand it to J-Hud that unlike her contemporaries like Usher and others, she didn't pack her album with electro-pop tunes. Instead, J-Hud sticks firmly to her R and B roots, a move that seems incredibly bold given the way the Billboard charts are working of late. Her first album was a decent people of fluff, even if a lot of the guest appearances overwhelmed J-Hud. This album is most definitely J-Hud being front and center as she delivers her take on modern soul music. With the track "Everyone Needs Love," Alicia Keys is proving that between that and Whitney's "Million Dollar Bill," she might single-handily bring back disco music while "Angel" is a great piece of 1980s pop. For reasons completely unknown to us other than it's probably in her contract, Jennifer Hudson has wedged that shrieky cover of "Feelin' Good" that has been ubiquitous in her Weight Watchers commercial onto the album. Other than that, we're loving the SOUL REALNESS she's giving us. And you and you and you, you're going to love it.

Hide your kids, hide your wives, Chris Brown is back with a new album titled "F.A.M.E." We're not quite sure if his infamy is going to live forever, but we'll give Chris Brown credit for seemingly being able to pull off what seemed truly impossible a few short years ago. After the beating up Rihanna incident or "mishap" in his words, Chris Brown's once-booming career seemed to be dead. Flash foward a few years with one middling album, a tearful performance on the BET Awards, a successful mixtape album and several guest appearances, Chris Brown has managed to get himself something of a viable career again and he didn't even have to use any Tiger Blood. We've always been indifferent at best when it comes to Chris Brown, given his successful graduation from the Ray J School of Nasal Singing. His new album doesn't really dissuade us from this feeling of ambivalence, despite some attempts at rapping and some above-average slow jams and the obligatory dance tracks. We're never going to be Team Brown. Not because of the Rihanna thing but because he's just so damn basic in a lot of ways. Below, Brown samples Michael/SWV in his song "She Ain't You."

Elsewhere, Adam Lambert and Green Day have put out live albums. Not with each other though. We don't know if any one record company could foot the bill for that eye shadow budget. Anyway, Adam Lambert, who we've always enjoyed more in theory than in action, has put out a new live album titled "Glam Nation Live" while Green Day has put out an album titled "Awesome as Fuck." Here's the thing about Green Day. We loved them as a teen. "Nimrod" and "Dookie" were awesome albums. And then those guys put out "American Idiot" and suddenly started reeking of that Bono pretentiousness, something not helped along when they created the "American Idiot" musical. How a band who had an album titled "Dookie" could come off so self-important now, we'll never know. But we're blaming it on the Seinfeld series finale, which used "Good Riddance" in the retrospective that aired beforehand. Is it true? Probably not but why not blame that crap series finale for a variety of ills in the world.

Panic at the Disco has returned with their third album, "Vices and Virtues." Panic at the Disco have always been an extreme guilty pleasure for us since their debut album "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out." So hipster it hurt, the band gave us such ridiculous song titles as "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is the Press Coverage" and "London Beckoned Songs Written By Machines." These are song titles that were sort of tailor-made for Hot Topic t-shirts. After being everywhere on the radio with the likes of Fallout Boy and Gym Class Heroes, Panic at the Disco's popularity left pretty much as quickly as it had come. Now the band, on their third album, make a return with this new collection of songs. We'll the hipster kids of yore who are now hipster adults embrace the band again? We don't know. But we'll admit that some of the songs certainly got our Converse-clad feet moving.

Next up, Acid House Kings are back with a new album "Music Sounds Better With You." With a name like Acid House Kings and an album that references a classic dance tune, you'd think you'd know what kind of music Acid House Kings would be serving. And 9 times out of 10, you'd be completely wrong as they are not much of a dance music act as they are giving Simon and Garfunkel realness with their slice of 1960s melodic pop music. We're not saying that their music sounds old school, we're just saying that Dustin Hoffman could interrupt A LOT of weddings to this album.

Next up, Keren Ann has a new album out titled "101." Keren Ann's singing voice is like a mix of Kate Bush and a less affected Zooey Deschanel while sporting a Karen O haircut. Her new album is totes brills.

And those are just a few releases for the week! As always, we wish you love, peace and downloads! BRING ON ANDRE 3000 and KESHA OFF HER NEW REMIX ALBUM I AM THE DANCE COMMANDER.


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