First! To quote our Worst New Music-branded review of Mumford and Sons' new yawner, Babel: "Ah, fuck." The banjo boys are holding strong at the top of the Billboard 200 with 96,000 units moved. Here's what you need to know, cribbed from Chuck Eddy's righteous ribbing: "U2-style evangelism is all over the Mumfords' bland but biblically titled second album, [references] approximately as deep as Matchbox Twenty's, and as smug as Dave Matthews' ... Songs drag on longer this time ... occasionally slipping into prissy shambling or polite hoedown parts that make the Zac Brown Band seem like the Texas Playboys ... Honestly, as folk revivalists, Mumford and Sons don't even come close to ranking ... they don't seem remotely musically curious."
2 to 10: The big news this week? Northwestern indie rap duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who put up a solid deuce with The Heist (78K). Their chart placement is fitting considering SPIN hip-hop blogger Brandon Soderberg's summary flushing of Mack's recent Lollapalooza showing. Coming in at No. 3 is KISS with Monster (56K), their second-highest position yet. In other news, KISS released a new album. The prostitute-banging, Nazi-hunting MGK, a.k.a. Machine Gun Kelly, picked up No. 4 for Lace Up (51K). No. 5 goes to Coheed and Cambria (The Afterman: Ascension, 49K); No. 6 to All Time Low (Don't Panic, 48K); No. 7 to Barbara Streisand (Release Me, 44K); No. 8 to Pink (The Truth About Love, 36K); and No. 9 to Ellie Goulding, (Halcyon, 34K). Muse falls hard from No. 2 to No. 10 with their sinking stinker, The 2nd Law (31K).
Indie Schmindie: Our two chart-topping albums are both independently distributed, which is kinda neat, especially when you consider this has only happened once before in the history of SoundScan sales-tracking. The other time was January of 2011, when Cake and Cage the Elephant filled the respective Nos. 1 and 2 slots. What's more, with three weeks on top, Babel has got the second-longest indie record run on top of the 200 ever. Although it was beaten by The Lion King back in 1994, so keep in mind the ever-flustering flexibility of the term "independent."
Barbara Streisand: No really, Barbara Streisand, not "Barbara Streisand." The standards singer and Broadway star is still much, much bigger than her EDM novelty song equivalent, and her shadow looms larger than any other woman in music, it turns out, at least by one metric. With Release Me, she scores her 32nd Top 10 album, giving her more of those than any other woman in history, and ranking her third overall to the Rolling Stones (36) and Frank Sinatra (33). She's expected to tie the Chairman of the Board with her next one.