Clearly, the pressure was on Eminem to deliver his first studio album since 2004's multiplatinum Encore
. "Do you know how many people lost their jobs because of your f------ vacation?" asks a record exec on one skit. But Slim Shady hasn't been kicking back on a private island. He's been battling some serious demons, namely an addiction to prescription pills that he raps about throughout Relapse
. "I fall in bed with a bottle of meds and a Heath Ledger bobble head," he rhymes on the witty, whimsical "My Mom." ("My mom loved valium and lots of drugs," the chorus goes.) Em takes a more sobering approach on the confessional "Déjà Vu," breaking down an overdose in gripping detail. Even more chilling are tales of serial killers ("3 a.m.") and child-molesting stepfathers ("Insane"), with Dr. Dre back supplying the menacing beats.
Amanda Leigh |
On 2007's Wild Hope
, Mandy Moore
gave up trying to compete with the Britney Spears
types and joined the coffeehouse crowd. She keeps up the musical makeunder on these country- and folk-tinged tunes. The low-key Amanda Leigh
(Moore's real name) delivers on modest pleasures like "Love to Love Me Back," which evokes early Olivia Newton-John. But you keep wishing she had even a smidge of new hubby Ryan Adams' edge.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "I Could Break Your Heart Any Day of the Week," the sunny single
Despite his songwriting credentials, Lionel Richie only penned one tune on his new album. Instead, he leaves much of the writing and production to contemporary hitmakers like Akon, The-Dream and Stargate, who put a fresh but familiar spin on Richie's sound. Still, the old guy falls into a bit of a midtempo rut.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Good Morning," an airy, lilting love song
Conor Oberst's last three albums have been credited to Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst and now Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band. Actually, though, the MVB played on last year's Conor Oberst. On Outer South
, however, Oberst shares songwriting duties and even lead vocals with his band. Guitarist Taylor Hollingsworth, for instance, delivers the frisky, '60s-spiked pop of "Air Mattress." Elsewhere, the MVB puts some more muscle behind Oberst on "Roosevelt Room," one of the rockingest things the alt-folkie has done. But while this group effort is consistently good, Oberst, by any designation he wants to use, is capable of better.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "I Got the Reason #2," a soulful, seven-minute ballad
For more information on where to find our Download This picks, go to people.com/downloadthis
>• Stones fans will get plenty of satisfaction with 2009's remastered reissues of the band's post-1971 studio albums. The rollout begins with the first four discs, including Sticky Fingers (right).
>MAT KEARNEY City of Black & White
There are shades of John Mayer
, Jack Johnson and Coldplay's Chris Martin on this singer-songwriter's latest. What Kearney lacks in originality, though, he helps make up for with a breezy appeal.
ST. VINCENT Actor
As St. Vincent, Annie Clark acts in multiple roles: singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. With her cinematic vision—and a theatricality Rufus Wainwright would applaud—her chamber pop plays well to the art-house set.n
CAGE THE ELEPHANT Cage the Elephant
Boasting both a rootsy grit and a hip-hop swagger, these bluesy rockers find the missing link between Kings of Leon and Kid Rock. This is what the Chili Peppers might sound like if they came out of Kentucky.
JULIAN MARLEY Awake
On his smooth if unspectacular third disc, the reggae scion keeps the family legacy intact with a little help from brothers Stephen Marley and Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley (on the standout "Violence in the Streets").
>FALL OUT BOY enlists blink-182's Mark Hoppus for a spacey, digital-only remix of the single "America's Suitehearts." $0.99 at iTunes.com.
returns with the rock-edged "Battlefield," from the 2007 American Idol's as-yet-untitled second album, due July 14. $1.29 at iTunes.com.
JONAS BROTHERS, less than a year after A Little Bit Longer
, preview their June 16 release Lines, Vines and Trying Times
with "Paranoid," a pulse-racing fusion of electro-pop and rock. $0.99 at amazon.com.
>• Talent runs in the genes of these artists, who are making names for themselves with new releases.
DHANI HARRISON, 30 Son of: George Harrison (right, in 1968) He's the singer-guitarist for thenewno2, whose first album, You Are Here
, features trippy, electro-infused rock tunes like "Back to You."
KRISTINIA DEBARGE, 19 Daughter of: James DeBarge (right, in 1983) "Goodbye," the first single off her as-yet-untitled debut album (out June 30), is a thumping, Rihanna
-meets-Britney springtime treat.
CROSBY LOGGINS, 28 Son of: Kenny Loggins (right, in 1984) The winner of MTV's Rock the Cradle
fills his solo debut, Time to Move
(out July 14), with sweet pop-rock like the first single, "Seriously."
SCHUYLER FISK, 26 Daughter of: Sissy Spacek (right, in 1980) A mix of Sara Bareilles and Sheryl Crow
, the singer-songwriter released her first album, The Good Stuff
, earlier this year.
ZACK ZMED, 26 Son of: Adrian Zmed (right, in 1982) He's the lead singer for the Janks, who release their self-titled EP of melodic, retro-flavored rock on June 1.