Baumer, Come On, Feel It (Astromagnetics). Did Howard Jones join the Postal Service? Wait, there are also riffs sloshed into the melodramatic mix. This must be emo-electro. Riding the Franz Ferndinand backwash of '80s dance-rock hybrids, Baumer brings nothing but empty gloss, airbrushed beats and guitar that's more soullessly boob-jobbed than the licks on a Kelly Clarkson single. -- Terry Sawyer
Modeselektor, Hello Mom! (Bpitch Control). Like fellow Germans Mouse on Mars, Modeselektor excels in rubber-bubble bass lines that bounce through tracks built like breakbeat pinball machines. During its cheekier numbers, Modeselektor is techno's answer to Esquivel. When the group gets serious, soot-covered synths and brick-hard, glitch-stitched thumps converge into driving, ass-crashing, dance abandon. -- Sawyer
Rev Run, Distortion (Def Jam). The front half of Run-D.M.C. trims off all the fat -- no skits, no guest shots, no filler -- and ends up with an extremely lean, extremely mean disc. When it ends, you'll say, "Is it over already?" -- and when's the last time you said that about a hip-hop album? Go ahead and call it a comeback. -- Andrew Kremer
Simple Minds, Black & White 050505 (Sanctuary). Two decades ago, Simple Minds sang, "Don't You (Forget About Me)." Sadly, most music listeners under thirty have forgotten. Regardless, the veteran band's newest disc drips with top-notch production, stellar songwriting and otherworldly musicianship. The passion alone is worth the price. -- Chris Callaway
Taproot, Blue-Sky Research (Atlantic). Hippies deceived by Taproot's packaging and the name of its latest effort will bum out on the artful hard rock. Insightful lyrics -- thanks partly to Billy Corgan -- weave through confident vocals and buff guitars. The rapping has all but disappeared, and the crooning-to-screamo transition feels natural. It also doesn't hurt that Fred Durst nurses a one-sided feud against them. -- Rick Skidmore
They Might Be Giants, They Got Lost (Zoe). The two Johns (Flansburgh and Linnell) pull together 21 demos, rarities, B-sides, theme songs and whatnot in this semi-coherent collection. Some songs are great, others aren't anywhere near. Fans will rejoice, while the rest of the world won't even know it exists. In other words, a They Might Be Giants album like any other. -- Kremer
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