- The Washington Times - Friday, August 29, 2003

Call it exuberance versus experience or simply young against old. This fall, we’ll see both the gray hairs and the greenhorns of rock music. In the late Joe Strummer’s case, it’s young against dead: The legendary Clash co-founder had completed an album with his band the Mescaleros before he died of a heart attack in December. The posthumous “Streetcore” will come out Oct. 7.

Produced by Rick Rubin, “Streetcore” includes a cover of the Bob Marley classic, “Redemption Song.” A box set of Strummer material, including a duet with the eternally hip Johnny Cash, also may see the light of day this year, according to Billboard magazine.

In the land of the still-vertical, the season pits some of rock’s alive-and-kicking elder statesmen — including David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop, David Byrne and Sting — against last year’s purported saviors of the genre, the garage art bands ignored by the fuddy-duddy Grammy mavens but beloved by critics.

Even though he’s touring in support of a year-old album, Bruce Springsteen’s mammoth show at FedEx Field Sept. 13 will almost certainly be the biggest draw of the year.

Representing the young Turks are the Strokes, who will release “Room on Fire” Oct. 21, the follow-up to their acclaimed debut “Is This It.” Look for its trailer single, “12:51,” on radio stations soon. A North American tour is also expected, but no dates have been set.

Though “Room” is probably the most hotly anticipated album of the season, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, another group canonized by a rock press nostalgic for unabashed guitar rock, also will fire a shot across the critical bow.

The San Francisco-based indie rock trio, known as B.R.M.C. for short, is set to release “Take Them On, On Your Own” Tuesday and perform at the 9:30 Club Sept. 18.

The Vines and the Hives, two other vaunted rock saviors of 2002, had planned on releasing albums this fall, but it’s looking as if we’ll have to wait until ‘04 for those.

The White Stripes will appear at GWU’s Smith Center on Nov. 22 in support of this past summer’s critically acclaimed “Elephant.”

Prolific composer Ryan Adams, in his own unique alt-country corner of new guitar rock, recently reached a truce with his record label, Lost Highway, and will release a fresh set of new material in November and December and likely tour in the interim.

After wrangling over the too-depressing “Love Is Hell” album, Mr. Adams agreed to soften the blow and release the set as a pair of EPs. The first, “Love Is Hell Vol. 1,” comes out Nov. 4, the same day he’ll put out “Rock n Roll,” his first batch of new songs since 2001.

Mr. Adams is scheduled to unleash the second volume of “Love” Dec. 9. Both EPs will feature six to eight songs, according to Rolling Stone magazine.

Another alt-country favorite, Shelby Lynne, will try to recover from the disappointingly overproduced “Love, Shelby” Sept. 16 with “Identity Crisis,” while bad-boy country rocker Steve Earle will issue a live double CD, “Just an American Boy,” Sept. 23.

Country legend Merle Haggard may not have a new album coming out, but expect a big showing for his Oct. 5 performance at the Birchmere Music Hall.

Love may be hell, but getting old, apparently, is not.

The oldsters will be led by this season by David Bowie, the 56-year-old Brit rocker who has remained on the cutting edge of pop music despite his advancing years. His latest, “Reality,” a portion of which he debuted live recently in a small club in upstate New York, is due out Sept. 16.

On the same day, the proudly graying former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne will release “Lead Us Not Into Temptation,” the soundtrack he composed for “Young Adam,” a United Kingdom art-house import set in Scotland.

Speaking of soundtrack composers, the prolific and eclectic Randy Newman has a compilation (“Songbook, Vol. 1”) due out Sept. 30 and has a two-night stand scheduled at the Birchmere Sept. 22 and 23.

Morrissey, once the lead singer of the influential alternative rock band the Smiths and now a sort of reclusive exile, has finally landed a new record deal and will release “Ludus Lumini” sometime in October.

Paul Westerberg, ex-frontman of the Replacements, another beloved ‘80s rock band, also has a release scheduled for October, titled “Come Feel Me Tremble.”

Elvis Costello, yet another singer-songwriter known for eccentric experimentation, is readying a Sept. 23 release of “North,” an 11-song collection of piano-based ballads.

Fleetwood Mac, still riding high with one of the top tours of the year, returns to the MCI Center Oct. 2 in support of its latest, “Say You Will,” while Cher’s “Farewell” tour hits the arena Oct. 10, and pop-country star Shania Twain will play the same venue a week later, Oct. 17.

Rounding out the veterans are Iggy Pop, former head of the legendary Detroit punk rockers the Stooges, and Sting, both of whom have new albums coming out Sept. 30 — respectively, “Skull Ring” and “Sacred Love.”

On “Sacred Love,” Sting’s first effort since 1999’s surprisingly successful “Brand New Day,” the former Police frontman duets with Mary J. Blige on a song called “Whenever I Say Your Name.” No tour plans have been announced.

The season also promises a couple of long-awaited returns — of Gloria Estefan and one Britney Spears.

All right, Miss Spears has only been away two years, but that counts as a lifetime in teen pop.

Miss Estefan is putting out her first collection of original English-language music in five years (“Unwrapped”) Sept. 23, while Miss Spears will go the way of hip-hop on her upcoming album, rumored to be titled “More Than You Know.” No release date has been set.

Another heartthrob — for the gals, that is — soon to go live with a new album is John Mayer, the hunky Best New Artist Grammy-winning singer-songwriter. His sophomore effort, “Heavier Things,” is due out Sept. 9, while singles from his popular debut, “Room for Squares,” still enjoy wide radio airplay.

Mr. Mayer’s biggest influence, Dave Matthews, is releasing his first album without the band that bears his name. “Some Devil” comes out Sept. 23, and it’s being trailed by a single, “Gravedigger,” that fans of the Dave Matthews Band have been hearing live for years.

They may hear it again when DMB plays the Nissan Pavilion Sept. 13.

Alt-rockers the Dandy Warhols, touring in support of their recently released “Welcome to the Monkey House,” play the 9:30 Club the night before on Sept. 12.

Mr. Matthews, incidentally, founded his own imprint, ATO Records, which is the new host of My Morning Jacket, an up-and-coming country rock band based in Kentucky.

Already a cult favorite in the Netherlands, of all places, the band has gotten glowing advance buzz on its third album, “It Still Moves” (also scheduled for a Sept. 23 release). My Morning Jacket plays the 9:30 Club Sept. 19.

Other releases to watch out for include a greatest-hits compilation from R.E.M., which plays the George Mason University Patriot Center Oct. 8.

Look for new efforts from neo-soul singers Erykah Badu (“Worldwide Underground,” Sept. 16) and Alicia Keys (as yet untitled, tentatively scheduled for an October release).

Electronica outfits the Chemical Brothers and Massive Attack each have new product on the way — a singles collection for the former due out sometime in September and an untitled new album scheduled for late this year for the latter.

Rappers DMX (“Grand Champ,” Sept. 16) and OutKast (a double CD, “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” Sept. 9) also have new albums in the hopper.

It’s still uncertain, but the Eagles may squeeze in an album (it would be their first all-new studio recording since 1979’s “The Long Run”) by year’s end, which would be a fitting end to a season that looks to be dominated by some very familiar names.

For something new and unique try the debut album from the Trachtenberg Family Slide Show Players, “Vintage Slide Collections From Seattle, Vol. 1” (Sept 23).

A family of three — art-pop rocker Jason Trachtenberg, his wife (on slide projector) and young daughter (on drums) — the Players opened a recent date at the 9:30 Club for the Polyphonic Spree, whose sophomore album is due out early next year.

They call their music “conceptual art-rock,” taking old slide shows from estate sales and thrift stores and setting them to perky keyboard music. The whole shtick is full of subversive humor and catchy melodies, and we hope it’s the sleeper hit of the season.

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