Mini Reviews

Beehatch, Beehatch (Lens Records). Frequently danceable and consistently dark, Beehatch is a collaboration between Phil Western and Mark Spybey, both previously members of Skinny Puppy side project Download. Beehatch often sounds like the soundtrack to both your nightmares and your wet dreams, but trance beats and the occasional melodic hook put this electronic experimentalism in orbit. — Eryc Eyl

Joe Cocker, Hymn for My Soul (Fantasy Records). With his one-of-a-kind voice and swagger, Joe Cocker routinely covers well-known songs that really don't need his interpretation. On Hymn, with a few major exceptions, the singer breaks form and picks a batch of lesser-known tunes, actually turning in a record that is more updating than rehashing. Brandon Daviet

mr. Gnome, Deliver This Creature (El Marko Records). Indie duos tend to make a noise that's spare as well as raw — but not Nicole Barille (the singer/guitarist) and Sam Meister (the drummer/pianist). The arrangements on tracks such as "Rabbit" are conceptually complex and brimming with surprises, be they ethereal vocals or bursts of fuzztone. Thanks to the partners' inventiveness, this Gnome stands tall. — Roberts

Iron Maiden, Somewhere Back in Time (Universal). CNN recently declared the members of Iron Maiden paparazzi-proof, with one theory giving credit to the band's uncouth appearance. There's nothing unattractive about this new greatest-hits set, however. Displaying the group's most accessible material, the disc is a breath of fresh air after the weighty sermons of its last studio album. — Daviet

Jewmongous, Taller Than Jesus (Chow Fun Records). The latest incarnation of What I Like About Jew's Sean Altman, Jewmongous is a tuneful tour de force of Judaic jocularity. Tracks like "Christian Baby Blood" and "Just Too Jew for You" are chock-full of clever one-liners, while the settings range from Irish reels to big-band jazz. Jewmongous is the Richard Cheese of subversive Semitic sidesplitters. — Eyl

Scarlett Johansson, Anywhere I Lay My Head (Atco). If this album is more interesting than most Hollywood vanity projects, it's due to producer David Andrew Sitek, who creates a thick, arty sound with assistance from members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV on the Radio, etc. But Johansson's monotone is a drag, and she brings zip to the Tom Waits-penned material. No producer could compensate for that. — Roberts

 
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