If you're heading to the record stores, keep these CDs in mind - they're the ones I'll be picking up.
Ray Davies -- Other People's Lives (I've never paid enough attention to the Kinks. Apparently other people feel just as guilty -- Davies has been getting tons of press for his solo debut. Mind you, being shot and almost killed last year in New Orleans does make for a snappy lead.)
Arctic Monkeys -- Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not -- I don't understand why my friends at NYCD got annoyed by the massive hype and initially pooh-poohed this. They know as well as I that if the British press tout a band as bigger than Oasis and more important than the Beatles that it merely means the band's CD might not suck. And in this case, it doesn't suck at all. Most American reviews say, "Believe the hype." I say, "Well worth a listen."
Teddy Thompson -- Separate Ways -- I'm a crazy huge fan for the Thompsons, the Wainwrights, et al. I liked Teddy's debut but this a strong leap forward in quality. The UK press has been glowing. The American press is starting to wake up too, with Entertainment Weekly giving it an "A" and USA Today 3 1/2 stars.The NYT, in classic NYT fashion, managed to review the CD without actually telling us what they thought of it. Literate, engaging pop.
Marley's Ghost -- Spooked -- never heard of this cult band, but Van Dyke Parks produced their new CD and R. Crumb did the cover art. I'm in.
Reissues: As with the Kinks, I ignored Mott the Hoople, in this case for the very simple reason that they have one of the silliest, least dignified names in rock and roll. But apparently, they have two glam rock albums I am a fool for not knowing better. Also out, a clutch of Merle Haggard's best CDs from the 60s in two-fers.