John Coltrane, One Down, One Up: Live at the Half Note (Impulse), Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane, At Carnegie Hall (Blue Note). It's semi-embarrassing that two of this year's best jazz discs feature a man who's been dead for 38 years. Then again, the artistic fearlessness that the late Coltrane displays on these long-lost live sets (from 1965 and 1957, respectively) would stand out in the past, present or future. -- Roberts
The Constantines, Tournament of Hearts (Subpop). There's a thin line between the Everyman and the mundane. Canada's the Constantines have been hammering out gruff, roughhewn indie rock for years, but Tournament is a veritable mess of blue-collar bathos. While the disc's folkier songs soar, the rest can't tell tension from tedium; only Bryan Webb's literate, full-blooded grunts save the whole thing from sounding factory-made. -- Heller
Deerhoof, The Runners Four (Kill Rock Stars). When Blonde Redhead started turning into a post-rock Wings, Deerhoof picked up the slack. Now, eight albums in, the San Francisco enigma has decoded itself -- and what's revealed is a shrill, skeletal art-pop that twists dissonance into surreal melody. Aching, quaking and utterly beautiful. -- Heller
Drums & Tuba, Battles Olé (Righteous Babe Records). Ever wonder what it would sound like if you locked a manic-depressive robot in a small room with a few horns, some bottles and cans, an untuned guitar with four strings, a Mars Volta CD and a bunch of 'shrooms for three hot months and then asked it to write a report on its summer vacation? So did Drums & Tuba. The answer is awesome. -- Cayton-Holland
The Joggers, With a Cape and a Cane (StarTime International). Like the fractious opening act that loathingly outclasses its fifteen-minutes-is-nigh headliners, the Joggers trot between infective indie catchiness and dense experimentation for ten strange tracks that pull you in and push you away, often simultaneously. The result is a layered second effort from a group du jour that hints at greater things and weathers sustained listening. Imagine that. -- Cayton-Holland
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Various Artists, Masters of Horror (Immortal). This tie-in to Showtime's new fright-flick series, which bows on October 28, brings together some of metal's nastiest current practitioners for a hit-and-miss barrage. The Buckethead/Serj Tankian collab and an aural assault by Aurora's Fear Before the March of Flames are terrifyingly strong, while It Dies Today's Depeche Mode cover is just plain scary. -- Roberts