Matthew Clay, Crown Yourself King
It’s pretty amazing what can come out of the do-it-yourself movement. Matthew Clay appears to be an artist with a new record on an indie label, but it doesn’t take much sleuthing to figure out that the Ottumwa, Iowa-based Freakin Records (as in, “Give me my Freakin Records”) is a one-man outfit, promoting only Clay.

William Walton’s classic oratorio Belshazzar’s Feast is a monument in the British musical canon and a perfect example of the British fascination with large-scale choral music. Feast is a synthesis of massive orchestral composition (the work calls for double brass) and towering choral forces.

The first must-hear record of the year comes from the Blue Man Group, a trio of nameless, faceless cobalt-silver surfers of the double helix as both pop-culture artists and electronic-music stream-clashers. With the group's new album, The Complex, this mute alien threesome goes beyond the grid and becomes the grid themselves, collaborating with guest vocalists and lyrics for the first time.

• This Tuesday brings the soundtrack from Holes, one of the season's most anticipated films, with new music from The Eels and a disco-ball salute to Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" by Stephanie Bentley. While aimed at the teen market, the 1999 Newbery Award-winning novel by Louis Sachar might be one of the freshest plots to knock on Hollywood's door in ages.

• Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer - the trio that conceived and delivered the hysterically funny Spinal Tap experience - have done it again, this time spoofing the 1960s folk scene as "The Folksmen, reunited for the memorial concert of a recently deceased artist manager.

• Two of the founding members of Depeche Mode are soon to release new solo albums. Songwriter Martin L. Gore returns to the covers concept he debuted in his 1989 Counterfeit collection, with Counterfeit2 due at the end of April on Mute Records.

• Fans of the defunct Smoking Popes are treated to a double scoop of power-pop memories this Tuesday when Double Zero Records, owned by founding drummer Mike Felumlee, releases two separate CDs saluting the band's Windy City reign.

• One of the strangest pairings in music comes this Tuesday when Geffen Records releases the soundtrack to House of 1,000 Corpses, the new Rob Zombie-directed horror film. Among odd tracks from the Ramones, Buck Owens, and Slim Whitman are six new sick tracks by Zombie, one of which is his "Brick House 2003," a twisted re-make featuring original Commodore Lionel Richie.

After a one-month absence to allow for a guest conductor, Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO) Music Director Donald Schleicher returned to the podium to conduct a concert of extremes on March 2: silly juxtaposed with the serious, German romanticism alongside “contemporary” American music, and program music leading into pure music.

• Dude! This Tuesday brings an excellent twin-cam sonic salute to the musical culture of the proud but coiffure-challenged bearers of the shameless American mullet. Or as the Epic Legacy Records label has succinctly put it: Mullets Rock! Almost an anthropological study, this 35-track, two-CD set is a killer collection of hard-rockin' classics guaranteed a righteous "thumbs up" from any soul brushing his Michigan mudflap - all business up-front, and all party in the back.

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