By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
By Jena Ardell
By Mary Willson
By Bree Davies
By Tom Murphy
By Tom Murphy
Joseph Arthur, Nuclear Daydream (Lonely Astronaut). Joseph Arthur is the most evocative, emotive performer and writer to surface in quite a while; think Bowie meets Conor Oberst. Arthur's vocals and confessional writing style offer a peep-show peek into his troubled heart. -- Mark Bliesener
Phillip Bimstein, Larkin Gifford's Harmonica (Starkland). The folks at Boulder's Starkland describe Bimstein's latest as "alternative classical" music -- a description that does no justice to this lively aural collage. Bimstein juxtaposes unpredictable instruments with speech samples of the sort that provide the name for "EatDrinkGambleSex." It's a winner. -- RobertsFlavor Flav, Hollywood (Draytown Records). Flavor Flav's first solo album, in the works almost as long as Axl Rose's Chinese Democracy, has finally been released -- and just in time to capitalize on the rapper's reality-TV fueled stardom. Freed from his role as court jester in Public Enemy, here Flav is intelligent, witty and surprisingly soulful.
Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood, Out Louder (Indirecto Records). Like almost every other release by Medeski, Martin & Wood, this album has about two or three good tracks -- maybe four, thanks to the contributions of jazz-guitar legend Jon Scofield. The tunes start out with brilliant funky grooves, and then, sure enough, organist John Medeski screws things up by adding a cheesy carnival organ or some wack-ass accordion sound. --Shawn Bauer
Oasis, Stop the Clocks (Columbia). Finally: an Oasis album you can play front to back without cringing. The two-disc set contains all the hits (and some that weren't), plus B-side bonuses craftily sequenced in non-chronological order. The undeniable songwriting prowess and true depth of this band of brothers shines throughout. -- Bliesener
Oddisee, Foot in the Door (Halftooth Records). Oddisee isn't very well-known. To remedy this, the MC/producer rounded up all of his unreleased material from the past couple of years, plus a couple of new songs, and handed everything to DJ Jazzy Jeff to create a mix tape. Unfortunately, most of the music on Foot is mediocre, which means Oddisee will likely remain unknown.
-- Quibian Salazar-Moreno
Various Artists, Sugar Hill Records: A Retrospective (Sugar Hill). No, this isn't the Sugar Hill with the Gang. Rather, it's one of America's finest roots labels. Retrospective, a well-chosen four-CD/one-DVD boxed set, spotlights Nickel Creek, local fave Hot Rize and more. The results are mighty sweet.-- Roberts