Cat Power | Jukebox | Matador
Rolling Stone: One of the reasons Marshall is able to make other artists’ songs disappear so completely into herself is that she’s singing about people who tend to disappear themselves: drifters, ramblers, faces in crowds.
Magnetic Fields| Distortion | Nonesuch
Rolling Stone: Its unmelded sonic gestalt suits its thematic disquiet.
Daft Punk | Alive 2007 | Virgin
Rolling Stone: This is the first-rate live album that Electric Light Orchestra should have made but never did.
Ringo Starr | Liverpool 8 | Capitol Records
Billboard: Most pop music fans think they know Ringo Starr. And musically, it’s probably true.
Lupe Fiasco | The Cool | 1st & 15th/Atlantic
Pitchfork: What it fails to deliver in terms of a linear experience, it makes up for in sheer pathos.
Rufus Wainwright | Rufus Does Judy Live at Carnegie Hall | Geffen | 75
Pitchfork: His talent is far too gaudy to stay cooped up.
Atmosphere | Strictly Leakage | Rhymesayers | 78
Pitchfork: Even if Strictly Leakage is more party-centered than his regular releases, it’s still a bit reflective and philosophical, though it doesn’t get too moody about it.
Warmer Milks | Let Your Friends In | Release The Bats | 4.5
Tiny Mix Tapes: Consisting of two pieces around 15 minutes each, Let Your Friends In pushes the latest culmination of the Milks further into this flirtation with the abrasive and imposing.
Black Mountain | Into the Future | Jagjaguwar | 70
Prefix: If Black Mountain is digging up the past for its inspiration, even its instrumental palette, the band never stoops to grave robbery.
Matt Costa | Unfamiliar Faces | Brushfire | 50
Prefix: At his strongest, Costa plays like a direct disciple of Paul Simon, but here he’s in watered-down form.
Eve | Here I Am | Geffen | 3.0
Blender: She spends several songs on her fourth album reducing suitors to whimpering buffoons, but it’s not always so confrontational.
Wu-Tang Clan | 8 Diagrams | SRC/Universal Motown | 4.0
Blender: Wu-Tang don’t defy death; they fall into a grim lockstep with it.
Mary J. Blige | Growing Pains | Geffen | 3.0
Blender: As the angrier tracks pile up, they start to sound like incomplete excerpts from a script—we get her exasperation and demands in abundance, but her man’s crimes are never clear.
The Black Swans | Change! | La Société Expéditionnaire | 3.0
Spin: At its best, Change! evokes that melancholy story of a man adrift.
Sia | Some People Have Real Problems | MPR | 3.0
Spin: On her slinky and seductive third studio album, Sia Furler vacillates gamely between Norah Jones smoky and Beth Orton ambient.
Idlewild | Scottish Fiction: Best of 1997-2007 | EMI | 60
Popmatters: Scottish Fiction doesn’t solve the Idlewild enigma, it just leaves more of a muddle.
Eels | Useless Trinkets: 1996-2007 | Geffen | 80
Popmatters: Obvious care has gone into fashioning each Eels record’s sonic identity.
Trisha Yearwood | Heaven, Heartache | Big Machine Records | 2.5
Paste: Despite claims about “new energy” and “buzz” in publicity materials, the album relies heavily on many familiar Yearwood themes.
Arrested Development | Since The Last Time | Vagabond | 3.0
Paste: Now Arrested Development sounds like it’s imitating the artists it has influenced.
The Spice Girls | Greatest Hits [Deluxe Edition] | Virgin | 90
All Music: Music was always secondary to the Spice Girls’ girl power image: they had enough great singles to be huge for a couple years but not enough to be more than a quicksilver pop culture phenomenon
Afromotive | Scare Tactics | Harmonized
Relix: Superb musicianship must be the calling card that won them collaborations with Erykah Badu.
Various | Five Years of Music from The Wire | Nonesuch | 4.0
Urb: Fortunately, aside from the urban conscious tracks that compliment the show, The Wire: And All the Pieces Matter is carried by its intermittent interludes of dialogue clips.
She Wants Revenge | This Is Forever | Geffen | 55
Filter: This somehow manages to be apostasy, farce, rip-off, and sadly dutiful homage, all simultaneously; so in a way, one of the most accomplished albums ever … for 6th graders.
Nick Drake | Fruit Tree | Ume | 90
Filter: If you’ve never used “Pink Moon” or “Northern Sky” to get into a girl/boy’s pants (or sell a Jetta) and you’re looking for Cliff Notes, this is the perfect starting point.
The Wong Object | Songs from the Shed | Moonjune
All About Jazz: Knotty themes, unrelenting grooves despite often shifting meters, and concise solos manage to say plenty in the short time they’re afforded.
Grateful Dead | Road Trips Vol. 1, No. 1, Fall ’79
All About Jazz: The beauty of Road Trips, however, is similar to that of the best Grateful Dead improvisations such as those on Vol. 1, No. 1 during “Playing In The Band” and “Not Fade Away:” you never know where the band is going to go.
Drive-By Truckers | Brighter Than Creations Dark | New West Records | 4.0
Rolling Stone: You could argue that the Truckers should have revved up this Skynyrd side more often. But instead they let the songwriting speak for itself, and it sings loud and clear.
Black Mountain | In the Future | Jagjaguwar | 3.5
Rolling Stone: In the Future has an even bigger kick [then the band’s 2005 debut], with a surprising blues edge and Amber Webber’s vocals adding a touch of Sandy Denny to the battle-of-Evermore vibe.
North Mississippi Allstars | Hernando | Songs of the South | 3.5
Rolling Stone: Cody Dickinson’s thumping drums and his brother Luther’s rusted slide guitar are as authentic as the juke joints where they studied under local gurus Othar Turner and R.L. Burnside.
The Whigs | Mission Control | ATO
Billboard: Not only is the band mercifully unpretentious, its power-trio format means the tunes are refreshingly uncluttered, allowing clear-as-a-bell melodies room to breathe.
Natasha Bedingfield | Pocket of Sunshine | Epic
Billboard: The standout here is “Piece of Your Heart,” some stop-start funk that almost makes Bedingfield sound like Chaka Khan. Seriously.
Patty Larkin | Watch the Sky | Vangaurd
Billboard: The sonic multiplicity of these dozen tunes is impressive.
Blood on the Walls | Liferz | Social Registry | 78
Pitchfork: Liferz may slice and dice the holy scripture of 90s indie rock, but in a way that’s more exegesis than heresy.
Andrew Bird | Soldier On EP | Fargo | 77
Pitchfork: Exceptionally good for a quick collection of rarities.
Lil’ Wayne | The Leak EP | Cash Money/Universal | 77
Pitchfork: A meager offering: five songs, ranging in quality from absolute bangers to intriguing sketches, which tell us little about how The Carter 3 might eventually sound.
British Sea Power | Do You Like Rock Music? | Rough Trade | 4.0
Tiny Mix Tapes: Gives lie to anyone who claims to despise Bono and co. but loves The Bends.
The Octopus Project | Hello, Avalanche | Peek-a-boo | 75
Prefix: Hello, Avalanche, the third proper full-length from the Octopus Project, is too gorgeous to be called forgettable, but it’s definitely hard to remember very much about it when it’s not actually playing.
The Mars Volta | The Bedlam in Goliath | Universal | 2.0
Spin: Bedlam has moments that remind you just how powerful the band can be, but it’s exhausting trying to find them.
James Murphy & Pat Mahoney | Fabriclive 36 | Fabric | 3.5
Spin: The Chic stares, Ze Records poses, sexy Peech Boys eschatology, plus some jazz-oriented passages from Donald Byrd and Love of Life Orchestra, are masterfully mixed with a handful of more current tracks to tell the story of how elite metropolitan club fizz gradually evolved into nationwide cool.
Gorillaz | D-Sides | Virgin | 3.0
Spin: This rarities collection (which focuses on the Danger Mouse-assisted Demon Days era) still has some surprises.
2Pac | The Best of 2Pac | Interscope | 70
PopMatters: Tupac’s own personal duality with facets of the fun-loving thug and the thoughtful urban philosopher.
Super Furry Animals | Hey Venus! | XL | 3.5
Paste: The first half of Hey Venus! is the band’s most sustained barrage of hooks and video game psychedelia in years.
DJ Chong Wizard | American Ironman
All Hip Hop: This latest installment mashes Jay-Z’s lyrics over beats from Ghostface’s classic Ironman and vice versa.
Ghislain Poirier | No Ground Under | Ninja Tune | 3.5
Urb: There’s never a shortness of bass on any track, and Poirier incorporates global influences, taking on everything from Caribbean soca and Brazilian baile funk to sounds from the Dirty South.
The Break Up Society | Nobody Likes a Winner | Get Hip | 4.5
All Music: Ed Masley’s most mature and ambitious album to date.
Trio of Uncertainty | Unlocked | Emanem
All About Jazz: This sounds like a trio playing some mutant form of chamber music, which indeed it is.
Protest the Hero | Fortress | Vagrant | 4.5
Sputnik Music: Fortress runs up, down and around the gamut, incorporating encompassing influences subtly into a progressive metal setting, one thankfully lacking ‘it was all a dream’ epiphanies.
Trash Talk | Plagues | Malfunction Records | 3.5
Sputnik Music: Trash Talk aren’t doing anything really new, they’re just trying to rip your face off at every possible moment.
Raheem DeVaughn | Love Behind the Melody | Zomba/Jive
New York Times: If this album isn’t quite the R&B triumph it wants to be, you can blame some meandering tracks produced by Kenny Dope, from the pioneering dance-music duo Masters at Work.
SSM | Break Your Arm for Evolution | Alive
New York Times: What the songs share is a cantankerous rock spirit and, behind it, musings on life and death.
IIIrd Tyme Out | Footprints: A Out Collection | Rounder
Modesto Bee: If any bluegrass group owned the 1990s, it was IIIrd Tyme Out.