By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
1. "Cops in Hi-Tops" from Now Bring That Here, by Skinner (Sparky the Dog Records)
If they're not bumped down to vice squad for violating dress code, the lawmen depicted in this amusing back-porch ditty from pro-femme songstress Hilary Skinner could probably moonlight as semi-approachable bouncers. There's something about a man in uniform.
2. "Hair Pants" from Audiophile, by Mike Colin (4EVR Oblio Music)
Upping the ante on how uncomfortable life in a monastery can get, prolific four-tracker Colin whispers his way through a somber (and exceedingly scratchy) meditation on fear, faith and suicide. Wonder if those happy slacks come with pleats and pockets?
3. "The Ballad of the Cowboy Clown" from I Love My Toys, by Jesse Smith
An epic, synthesized spaghetti Western pits our oddly attired, orange-haired hero against Billy the Clown at high noon. Their choice of weapons? Unicycles, juggling pins and balloon-twisting at fifty paces. Replete with sound effects and surprises, this delightful children's song from a local comedy writer/voice artist fills some mighty big shoes.
4. "Gonna Wear Red" from Gonna Wear Red, by Wendy Woo (Hapi Skratch)
Whether it's Scarlet O' Hara or Little Red Riding Hood, when a female dons her ruby-hued ensemble, look out! Woo's Lilith-approved ballad combines fierce femininity with a independent sense of adventure -- like Rosie the Riveter at the high school prom.
5. "Glass Eye" from Woven Hand, by Woven Hand (Soundsfamilyre)
Eschewing a fashionable eye patch, David Eugene Edwards crafts a curious banjo-fueled hoedown that trembles before Jesus as it dabbles in taxidermy. Even though the spirit might be willing, the flesh is still weak -- making mortal fools of all of God's children, even Sammy Davis Jr.
6. "Psychedelic Black Man" from Laughing Barrel, by Ron Miles (Sterling Circle)
Ultra-stylish in melting silk the color of cool jazz, a cosmopolitan trumpeter chases white rabbits through a nocturnal hall of mirrors. Cut from the same introspective cloth as his hard-bop forefathers, virtuoso Miles gives acid-laced fusion a new wrinkle.
7. "Venus in Furs" from Triple X Tango, by DeVotchKa (Cicero)
This rare, exotic remake of the Velvet Underground's classic tale of boy-meets-whip finds leather-clad gypsies crashing an S&M polka party. Towering in thigh-high boots, Ms. Venus strides down the runway like a sable-cloaked goddess. Meow!
8. "Panama Hat" from Where the Dark Road Starts, David Williams (Trapdoor Records)
Inspired by Ecuador's famed, hand-woven sun lid, this breezy acoustic rumba blends equal jiggers of Bacardi and Ry Cooder. Backed by the Hot Club of the Rockies, Williams branches out from singing animal songs to get drunk and model beachwear.
9. "Chrome Baby" from IZ, by Iz (Infinite 7)
Dressed in hand-me-down diapers and black fingernail polish, Mike Serviolo's aggressive instrumental squalls like a newborn with colic. Elliptic guitar scorch and heart-attack drumming combine for a flashy, sonic punch both lustrous and metallic.
10. "Little People Sex Workers" from I Want to Be a Billionaire, by Gregory Ego.
The industrious streetwalkers who frequent the Royal Court Motel are barely legal, barely dressed and barely three foot five. Down on their heels in torn fishnets with mismatching cuffs and collars, these tiny burlap sisters can all attest to one thing: "We're not in Kansas anymore."