• Two cool new soundtracks are flying low under the commercial radar but are worthy of finding. The Zero to One Records imprint has just released Eric Holland's soundtrack to Dopamine, recently the winner of the 2003 Alfred P.

• My pick of the week is this Tuesday's funky touchdown by The Clinton Administration, and I don't mean Ray Ban-ed Willie mugging with his saxophone on Arsenio Hall. A new mothership has landed, my brothers, with space pimp afterburners smoking up the joint, blistering in the hazy jam of its "take me to your leader" funk.

• Sex, drugs, and murder. Back it up with an infectious beat and you're sure to cause people's neck hair to rise up along with their blood pressure. Author Peter Blecha has tackled this subject in a new well-researched book, Taboo Tunes: A History of Banned Bands & Censored Songs, on the Backbeat Books imprint.

• Eric Clapton has created the Crossroads Guitar Festival, a one-time music festival this summer that sounds like a wet dream for guitar fanatics. To be held June 4 through 6 in Dallas, Texas, the festival features not only great live performances but also many intimate acoustic- and electric-guitar clinics held in the fest's Guitar Center Village.

• Although Loretta Lynn is nearing 70, her new album (out this week) is so good it makes my teeth hurt. Packed with 13 new originals, the album is a dream project to Jack White of the White Stripes, who a few years back could have only dreamed of working with the country legend, let alone in a duet on the track "Portland, OR" and playing on, producing, and arranging the entire CD.

• On a mini-tour of a dozen dates across North America and the crowning glory of the Coachella Festival in May, the newly re-formed Pixies are pushing west with a technical vengeance, offering a new anthology DVD this Tuesday and a series of "instant gratification" live CDs sold after every night's show.

• Who says powerful things can't come in small packages? Three new books have just been released in Continuum's "33 1/3" series, waxing profound on three more five-star albums - The Velvet Underground & Nico from 1967, Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures from 1979, and Prince's Sign "O" the Times from 1987.

• With a vibe that recalls the historic Live Aid concerts, last November's benefit concert in Cape Town, South Africa, for AIDS-related social work is getting the royal treatment this Tuesday by Warner International and Rhino Records.

• It looks like the meek will inherit a record deal, with underdog rising star William Hung getting the last laugh. The booted and humiliated American Idol contestant releases his debut album this Tuesday, ready to snuggle up to a place in music history next to other tone-deaf releases by Mrs.

• Everything's gone cover crazy as tributes and twisted takes dominate this week's new releases, but one cool compilation is doing it in a slightly different way. This Tuesday the Norton Records imprint releases two more seven-inch 45s in its series of split singles covering early songs by the Rolling Stones, with wicked label art that mocks the band's classic London Records era.

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