Mini Reviews

The Beach Boys, U.S. Singles Collection 1962-1965 (Capitol). Another dismal example of how the harmony-laced music of the Beach Boys can be whored out. Technology is lost on this sixteen-CD set. Without any notable bonus tracks, listeners are subjected to "singles" they already hear on the radio every day for nothing. — Brandon Daviet

The Fratellis, Here We Stand (Interscope). Stand''s tempos aren't as persistently headlong as they were throughout Costello Music, the debut by these three mischievous Scots — and while that initially seems like a good thing, it isn't in the long run. Even so, exuberant ditties such as "Shameless" and "Tell Me a Lie" are damned hard to dislike, secondhand though they may be. — Roberts

Joan as Police Woman, To Survive (Cheap Lullaby Records). On her second outing, Joan Wasser confidently and courageously stakes out her place among the independent world's most talented, dynamic and honest female singer-songwriters. A collection of songs inspired largely by Wasser's mother's ultimately unsuccessful struggle against cancer, To Survive strikes an arresting balance between rawness and grace, anger and acceptance, brutality and beauty. — Eryc Eyl

Shearwater, Rook (Matador Records). Centered around the otherworldly-yet-grounded vocals and songwriting of Jonathan Meiburg, Shearwater's latest continues what began with 2007's Palo Santo. Vaguely medieval, sparse instrumentation provides a bed upon which Meiburg spreads an intricately woven tapestry of loss and longing. It's soft and warm enough to curl up in, and thick enough to absorb your tears and screams. — Eyl

Cassandra Wilson, Loverly (Blue Note). Because Wilson's among the more adventurous vocalists in commercial jazz, her decision to record a collection of standards seems a bit too safe. Fortunately, her distinctive voice and unconventional phrasing freshen up the material — in particular, a redolent rendering of "Black Orpheus" and a rollickingly off-kilter version of "St. James Infirmary" that's good for what ails you. — Roberts

Dennis Wilson, Pacific Ocean Blue — Legacy Edition (Sony Legacy). Brian Wilson wasn't the only songwriting talent in the Beach Boys. His brother Dennis had the knack and a cool persona, to boot. This long-sought-after gem resurfaces with new contributions from guests like Taylor Hawkins and the Foo Fighters, as well as Dennis's own mythical unfinished album, Bambu. — Daviet

 
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