From Wu-Tang to 'Walk Hard'

Songs from Foxboro Hot Tubs

Do you think they sound like Green Day?

Wu Tang Clan

Wu-Tang Clan is reuniting for its fifth album, 8 Diagrams. Alex X Henry hide caption

itoggle caption Alex X Henry

Esquire music critic Andy Langer takes a look at two albums released today, as well as some big-name music that's free for everyone.

The new Wu-Tang Clan record, despite rumors to the contrary, is real and in record stores: 8 Diagrams is the first album in six years from what many regard as the most important collective in hip-hop history. In the intervening time, flamboyant rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard has died, which Andy Langer says "makes this [record] both less light and a little heavier."

Around the time the group first went into the studio to make 8 Diagrams, both Raekwon and Ghostface Killah gave interviews saying that The RZA had taken charge more than usual and ruined this record for them. In Langer's opinion, all that bad press from the start made for a mediocre record. "It's not as bad as you've heard it might be," Langer says, and "it's not as great as you'd like it to be."

"That is either Green Day or my new favorite band," Langer says of the songs credited to the mysterious group Foxboro Hot Tubs (rumored to be a nom de plume for Green Day), which is offering a six-song EP for free on its Web site. If the group is a front for Green Day, and nobody in the Green Day camp is denying that is, this is yet another case of an enormously big band giving away music on the Internet (following Radiohead's unusual release of In Rainbows in October). Langer says these are "really well-written, really great two-and-a-half-minute pop songs." Even if the songs are leftovers from sessions while Green Day works on its latest album, these are really good leftovers.

Another band just giving it away is Big Head Todd. The group is sending 500,000 copies of its new record to radio stations, who will split the costs of mailing the real CDs — not downloads — to people who are already fans of similarly formatted radio. "They say they see this record as their main marketing tool. It's no longer a source of income," Langer says. The theory is that the people who listen to the record will buy tickets when Big Head Todd plays their town.

Walk Hard hilariously sends up the rock 'n roll biopic, and has the actor John C. Reilly singing all the songs on the soundtrack. The title track also features Jewel, Jackson Browne, Lyle Lovett and Ghostface Killah. "It is not the trainwreck you think it is," Langer says. "It's really funny."

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