Take some time this week to enjoy some new American music, won't you? After all, it's not like there's any other big news event that would bring us together as country — at least not as big as a new Beastie Boys album. Nothing brings the country together more than the Beastie Boys.
SKIP: Jennifer Lopez, "LOVE?"
As "American Idol" hopefuls move closer to the finish line, "American Idol" judges are juicing the machine for their own fame gain. Here comes J.Lo reminding all of her new "Idol" followers that she's still got game. According to Lopez, "LOVE?" is a deeply personal album. According to anyone with ears, "LOVE?" is a deeply overbearing, overproduced attempt to fit into a post-Gaga world that has left J.Lo on the side of the dance floor. Being on "Idol" every week can't hurt sales, but "LOVE?" is a long way from being everlasting.
SKIP: Stevie Nicks, "In Your Dreams"
Stevie Nicks returns to remind everyone that she was there before any of the "Eclipse" mystical freaks. "In Your Dreams" — Nicks' first studio album in ten years — is filled with vampires, mystical forests, and lots of lace. It's also got ex-Eurythmic David Stewart conjuring up radio-ready songs as Nicks' co-writer and producer. Who doesn't want Stevie Nicks to win? At age 62, she's the grande dame of acoustic-rock chicks. She's survived addiction, heartache, and a whole lotta crappy Fleetwood Mac albums to tell the rock 'n' roll tale. Still, "In Your Dreams" feels like a sleepwalk and fails to linger. It's hard to find Stevie Nicks in the midst of all of the mid-tempo Stevie Nicks-ness.
PLAY: Beastie Boys, "Hot Sauce Committee Part 2"
Just as you're pulling that next gray hair from your head, here come the Beastie Boys proving that hip-hop can settle into middle age without losing its cool or cred. "Hot Sauce Committee Part 2" manages to seep into the future while feeling like the late '80s all over again. It's as groovy, lewd, contagious, and indecipherable as you've come to expect from the Beasties. Make some noise, people. No one keeps it real like the court jesters from NYC.
PLAY: Fleet Foxes, "Helplessness Blues"
For those who were asleep in 2008, Fleet Foxes released one of the most gorgeous debuts in recent memory. Filled with CSNY-meets-baroque harmonies, Fleet Foxes managed to merge hippie wanderlust with mesmerizing melodies. On their follow-up, the Seattle band reaches even higher into the ether with songs that strive to answer big existential questions. If Neil Young were a philosophy major, this album would be his senior thesis. "Helplessness Blues" is proof that God keeps the best songs for the folk singers.
PLAY: Blind Boys of Alabama, "Take the High Road"
Since 1939 the Blind Boys of Alabama have been bringing their unique mix of gospel, roots, and soul to a slowly growing crowd. The Blind Boys are a national treasure, and any musician with a heart has wanted to stand in their light. On "Take the High Road," Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Jr., and Lee Ann Womack are some of the Blind Boys' traveling companions. It's a more countrified take on their gospel sound, but it's as natural as the backwoods churches that dot the Southern countryside. Play it on the way to your next Sunday service or tailgate party. Either way, it's pure heaven.