The Budos Band, The Budos Band (Daptone). After numerous releases of gritty soul, Daptone is back to its Desco roots with the Budos Band. The act's debut is a tightly wound, sinewy slab of African-accented funk that owes less to Fela Kuti than to pre-fusion Hugh Masekela. Slithery bass, stinging brass and Hammond-propelled instrumentals make for another shining addition to Daptone's already stellar stable. -- Heller
Filthy Thieving Bastards, My Pappy Was a Pistol (BYO). The Bastards started as a clearinghouse for the Swinging Utters' "Name That Artist" experiment. The Dylan and Stooges references are fading, leaving just the Pogues and Merle Haggard redefined. Johnny Bonnel's twisted lyrics are unpredictable, and great musicianship makes questionable Ween tunes bearable. They don't always steal from the cream of the crop. -- Rick Skidmore
Floetry, flo'Ology (Geffen). The flow on the second studio CD by Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart is subtle and sumptuous, establishing a mood that sustains itself for 54 blissful minutes. On "Blessed 2 Have" and "I'll Die" (as well as "SupaStar," with a cameo by Common), these British soulsters chill out but never cool off. -- Roberts
Gravenhurst, Fires in Distant Buildings (Warp). For those who wax nostalgic for the Bristol, U.K., scene of the late '90s -- Movietone, Crescent, Flying Saucer Attack, Amp, the Third Eye Foundation -- Gravenhurst's new full-length keeps the faith. Post-rock austerity and shoegazing psychedelics clash in a frenzy of doped drones and freefall melodies. Shot through with psychosis and softness, Fires chills. -- Heller
Panóptica, Ahora Yo a Tí: Una Colección de Remixes por Panóptica (Nacional Records). All too many mix albums draw from a narrow range of sources. Not so Ahora, by Mexico-born Roberto Mendoza, aka Panóptica. This veteran of the Nortec Collective uses varied material -- by Calexico, Her Space Holiday, David J and more -- to create highly personalized soundscapes well worth exploring. -- Roberts
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So I Had to Shoot Him, Alpha Males and Popular Girls (Crucial Blast). Here are four bad boys and one naughty opera diva who will be getting carbon fuel for Christmas. "King Diamond in the Rough" and "Contusion Schematics" emulate 45 Grave on a math-metal spree. The quartet then subjects its prey to My Bloody Valentine freakouts and French Lene Lovich. Bizarre stuff too extreme for even Diamanda Galas enthusiasts. -- Skidmore