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Still waiting

Two of '06's best CDs are still awaiting release

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In 2006, I received thousands of CDs. Out of that ginormous heap, I listened to several hundred (and I'm being generous with myself here), and only 100 or so truly impressed me as high-quality music.

Unfortunately, a few of the discs stood out for other reasons. Tango Redd's The Campaign (Warner Bros.), Final Draft's debut album (Bad Boy Records) and City Sleeps' Hotel (Maverick Records) didn't see an official release this year. While the first two are MIA, presumably having been dropped from their labels' rosters, City Sleeps is still trying to get Hotel out.

"We're bound and determined to find the people who care about the music and want to blow this thing up," says Elliott Sharp, lead singer for City Sleeps. "It's definitely going to come out soon."

Warner Bros. imprint Maverick Records signed City Sleeps in 2003. But after finishing its debut a year later, the group learned that Warner was slowly dissolving Maverick. "Maverick just went straight out of business," Sharp says. "A lot of albums didn't come out." He says Warner considered picking up City Sleeps' contract. "We had serious negotiations for a long time, and it ended up being the best decision that they didn't go with us and we didn't go with them," he says. The band requested and got a release from its contract last summer.

Representatives at Warner Bros. didn't respond to repeated calls for comment.

On Dec. 13, Sharp announced a deal with New Jersey independent Trustkill Records on City Sleeps' MySpace page (www.myspace.com/citysleeps). "We are so proud to have them be a part of the team," Sharp wrote. The group joins a roster that includes Atlanta band Fight Paris.

"We anticipate it will be out first quarter of the year," says Jim Del Balzo, whose JDB Entertainment manages City Sleeps. He adds, "The ink isn't even dry yet."

On the surface, Trustkill looks like a step down from Warner Bros. But Del Balzo is pragmatic about the deal, noting that City Sleeps is a relatively new "baby band" with lots of potential. At best, it can mimic the success of Eighteen Visions, a hard-rock band that recorded several albums for Trustkill before "graduating" to a deal with Epic Records.

"Majors aren't signing many new bands without a track record," Del Balzo says. "We felt our best chance was to sign with an indie label that was excited about us." With luck, it means you'll see Hotel in stores next year. In the meantime, you can catch City Sleeps on Sun., Dec. 31, at the Masquerade.

WORLD CHAMPS: On Dec. 15 at London's Astoria Theatre, funk-rap hybrid Heavy Mojo triumphed at the Global Battle of the Bands. As the United States' representative in the international talent contest, the funk-rap hybrid prevailed over bands from 24 different countries. Congratulations! The prize includes $100,000, a world tour and three Gibson guitars.

RANDOM NEWS: According to Allhiphop.com, Big Cat Records rapper Gucci Mane signed a seven-figure contract with Atlantic Records. ... R&B singer Ciara's The Evolution is tops on the Billboard album charts. ... Famed Athens party band the B-52s is in the studio recording a new album, its first since 1992's Good Stuff. On its website, www.theb52s.com, Keith Strickland describes the music as "Rock 'n Roll-Glam-Electro-Soul for your pleasure zones." It should hit stores next summer. ... The Black Lips' debut for Vice Records, the live set Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo, comes out Feb. 20. ... Usher and his business manager, Solomon Smallwood, are pairing with the Grape, an Atlanta-based chain of wine bars and retail wine sellers. The two men plan to open several Grape franchises in major cities such as Las Vegas and Manhattan. Their first franchise, the Grape at Inman Park, opened on Dec. 14. ... In related news, Usher is working on a new album for next year. ... After releasing the excellent The Gothic and the Gospel last winter, Afrobeat/punk-rock band Partisan split up. The band played its final show Sept. 15.

CD RELEASES: No CD-release parties this week. Happy holidays.

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