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Bone's Back 

Bone Thugs ready new albums.

Ne-Yo, at Tower City Amphitheater, August 24. - WALTER  NOVAK
  • Walter Novak
  • Ne-Yo, at Tower City Amphitheater, August 24.

Cleveland hip-hop icons Bone Thugs-N-Harmony are ready to return with their first albums made under the group name since 2002. Due September 19, Thug Stories sees the Grammy winners reunite with Koch Records GM Alan Grunblatt, who coordinated the marketing and promotion for Bone's multiplatinum albums Creepin On Ah Come Up and E. 1999 Eternal. The group is also collaborating with producer Swizz Beatz (DMX, Beyoncé) on an album for release on Interscope through Beatz' Full Surface label. An Interscope representative says legendary producer Dr. Dre will contribute a track. No release date is set.

"We've got a lot to prove," says Layzie Bone, who adds that the Koch album --previously announced as a self-titled release -- will deliver Bone Thugs' signature sound: harmonies, street anthems, and tender moments. "You've got the whole package. Everybody's doing what Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is doing in R&B and rap. Do we get our respect from this industry? Not yet, but we're gonna get it."

The group recorded at Cleveland's 76 Studios, with additional tracks from former Ruthless labelmate Dirty Red and up-and-comers Ben C. and Marley T.

After a hiatus, Bone Thugs reunited in 2004. Layzie Bone says that between the individual members' prolific solo and collaborative output, the members have spent the last two years assembling a new management team and extricating themselves from a deal with the deceased Eazy-E's Ruthless Records. Thug Stories will be the first group album without Bizzy Bone, but Layzie says the three remaining Thugs will return in full force.

"Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is far from broken," says Layzie. "We barely fell off. This ride's gonna be a lot harder than the last one, so Cleveland better strap their boots on."

The group launches a 30-city national tour September 1. No Cleveland date is set yet.

· Melodic Cleveland stoner-rock duo Mr. Gnome is wrapping up tracks for its as-yet-untitled sophomore release at Ante Up Studios. "It's just a little darker musically and more melodic vocally," says singer Nicole Barille. "The songs are a bit more complex, refined, and complete." The band opens the CD-release party for If These Trees Could Talk at Akron's Lime Spider (207 South Main Street) Saturday, September 2.

· The Black Diamonds' hiatus didn't take -- and the group has a new drummer. Mentor's Mike Vargas (also of the lo-fi pop-rock outfit Royal Suburban Sky) will sit behind the skins at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard, Cleveland Heights) Sunday, September 3.

· Singer-songwriter-pianist-saxophonist Maia Sharp will visit WCPN 90.3 FM's Around Noon on Friday, September 1, at noon to talk about her show that evening at Nighttown (12387 Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights).

· Akron's artist-friendly Crossroads (153 East Cuyahoga Falls Avenue, Cuyahoga Falls), formerly Voodoo, is now selling local CDs. The club is taking just one dollar from each sale. Call 330-252-7625 for details.

· Akron's Black Keys have tapped Kent's Beaten Awake to open their West Coast tour, which kicks off September 1. Beaten Awake guitarist Allen Karpinski's other band, the Six Parts Seven, has finished recording its fifth album. The disc is set for release on Seattle's Suicide Squeeze Records in January. Keys frontman Dan Auerbach will receive another behind-the-boards credit on Detroit duo SSM's upcoming six-song EP, EP-1, which features leftovers from the Akron sessions for the band's Alive LP.

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