By Noah Hubbell
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Alex Distefano
By Darryl Smyers
By Jon Solomon
By Britt Chester
Herbie Hancock, Then and Now: The Definitive Herbie Hancock (Verve). With all the songs that Hancock has written over the past five decades, it's a stretch to say this twelve-track retrospective is "definitive," but it gives a good sampling of the pianist's career through his years with Blue Note, Warner Brothers, Sony and, most recently, Verve. It also features previously unreleased live versions of "River," with Joni Mitchell, and "Rockit."
Horse Feathers, House With No Home (Kill Rock Stars). Anyone expecting Marx Brothers-like anarchy from Horse Feathers will have his attitude adjusted in a matter of seconds. House With No Home radiates delicacy, with all manner of strings underpinning Justin Ringle's light, scratchy crooning. The album is gently persuasive — a lovingly rendered sonic miniature that would have sounded as evocative yesterday as it will tomorrow.
I Set My Friends on Fire, You Can't Spell Slaughter Without Laughter (Epitaph Records). In a strange case of novelty rock, the barrage of thrash guitars and dance beats on You Can't Spell Slaughter are enticing, while song titles like "Interviews With Hideous Men" and "WTFWJD" add intrigue. But that's where the party stops: As ambitious as the titles sound, the punchlines just don't deliver.
Terrence Howard, Shine Through It (Columbia). Ha! Another disc by an actor! Grab a thesaurus, 'cause this demands some fresh insults! But, no: Howard has created a highly credible soul album that eschews Hustle & Flow-inspired pimpiness in favor of the rich emotions found in "Love Makes You Beautiful" and more. You know the rule? This is the exception.
Martin Taylor, Double Standards (P3 Music). With his first solo album in five years, jazz guitarist Martin Taylor created this brilliant "duos" collection of standards by overdubbing two separate guitar tracks. The tunes were all very personal to Taylor, invoking either great memories or key points in his career, including two cuts from the late '70s.
Various Artists, Bones - Original Television Soundtrack (Nettwerk). Using TV shows as a parading ground for singles was one of the more annoying tactics developed during the music industry's reinvention. Mirroring the shows' atypical characters, this soundtrack strives for oddity, with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Sinéad O'Connor mixing company. What might work on screen, however, doesn't work on wax.