SINGLE: I WANT YOU
NEW YORK (Billboard) - It seems fair to say that Weezer's musical phases stem directly from the identity crises of its eccentric frontman, Rivers Cuomo. But even as the Los Angeles quartet has shifted from '90s geek-rock to cultish breakup laments and then to glossy power pop, its sense of humor has remained consistent. On the first single from the upcoming Raditude, the band continues to channel youthful nostalgia, this time through references to the movie Titanic and jokes about meatloaf. The song's upbeat rhythm recalls the '80s top 40 hit Walking on Sunshine, exuding a catchy excitement that feels almost plastic but is still undeniable. It's also similar to the band's self-titled and somewhat overproduced 2008 release. The self-deprecating lines about being shy around women, however, are quintessential Cuomo.
ARTIST: KANY GARCIA
SINGLE: FELIZ (Sony Music Latin)
Leave it to Kany Garcia to write a dark song called Feliz. On the lead single from her second album -- Boleto De Entrada, due September 22 -- the Puerto Rican singer-songwriter's sharply observant lyrics and pained, husky voice are a satisfying contrast to the bouncy acoustic pop behind it. Garcia does bittersweet very well, and she's capable of conveying hurt feelings with subtlety in her vocals even while ostensibly giving someone the finger in verse. On her Latin Grammy Award-winning first album, Cualquier Dia, the quirkiest track (an ode to a vibrator) was buried. But Feliz is a bold choice for a single and a catchy song with a rhythm that borders on reggae-lite. Here's hoping the rest of Garcia's new material is as interesting.
ARTIST: ALICE IN CHAINS
SINGLE: CHECK MY BRAIN (Virgin/Capitol Records)
After more than a decade of studio silence following original frontman Layne Staley's death, the iconic Seattle band Alice in Chains returns with a new singer and a refurbished sense of focus. Check My Brain -- the lead single from the group's forthcoming Virgin Records debut, Black Gives Way to Blue -- follows the summer buzz track A Looking in View. Brain is faithful to the grunge terrain Alice in Chains mapped out in 1995. Written by guitarist/chief songwriter Jerry Cantrell, who shares lead vocal duties with William DuVall, the song revolves around Cantrell's distaste for his relocation from rainy Seattle to sunny Los Angeles. The band's classic, down-tuned stomp could easily pass for an unreleased track from the Dirt era and is sure to please longtime fans.
ARTIST: LADY ANTEBELLUM
SINGLE: NEED YOU NOW (Capitol Nashville)
Lady Antebellum -- the trio of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood -- has lived up to its promise and then some. After a breakout debut album and touring slots with Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban, the group now faces the dreaded sophomore slump. But if the lead single, Need You Now, is any indication, Lady A's career will continue on its upward trajectory. The song finds alto Scott trading lead vocals with a soulful Kelley, and it will connect with anyone who's ever dumped a significant other and regretted it in the early morning hours (It's a quarter after one, I'm a little drunk and I need you now). The passionate track begins and ends with sparse piano and packs a powerful punch in between.
SINGLE: IMMA STAR (Mick Schultz/Def Jam/IDJMB)
On the heels of Jeremih's debut single-turned-summer anthem, Birthday Sex, Imma Star continues to peg the 21-year-old R&B singer-songwriter as a young talent to watch. The song bristles with confidence, as the Chicago native jokes about his quick rise to success and insists that it's no fluke: Now that I got the torch, I'mma keep the flame. The-Dream's influence is even stronger here than on Birthday Sex, from the distended, hypnotic yelps to the dense synths and nerdy analogies -- and occasionally, it veers too close to comfort. Still, few artists charge from the gate this convincingly, and Jeremih has the vocal chops to back up his boasts, proving that he's no one-hit wonder.