Les Claypool, Of Whales and Woe (Prawn Song Records). Like him or not, Les Claypool has a singular vision. And luckily (or unluckily), he doesn't steer too far from it here. Of Whales and Woe is full of half-sung, half-spoken ditties about wacky characters, "Vernon the Company Man" being a prime example. The album highlight, as always, is Claypool's virtuosity on the bass. -- Dave Garner
Grandaddy, Just Like the Fambly Cat (V2). Grandaddy won't be getting any grayer: Group leader Jason Lytle recently announced that the indie combo is splitting after more than a decade. On the act's farewell, powerful pop such as "Jeez Louise" shares space with pleasantly retro meanders like "Where I'm Anymore." There are some memorable moments here, but overall, Cat is a meow-mixed bag. -- Roberts
Jewel, Goodbye Alice in Wonderland (Atlantic). Jewel is back, with thirteen slabs of mediocrity. No dance numbers or high-gloss production this time around, just interchangeable acoustic tracks that seem to exist solely to support the singer-songwriter's startlingly sophomoric poetry. You'd think she'd be a better writer by now; Goodbye Alice in Wonderland proves she isn't. -- Garner
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, All the Roadrunning (Nonesuch). She's a little bit country, he's a little bit rock and roll. Even so, Mark Knopfler's dry rasp and blues rock mesh smoothly with Emmylou Harris's down-home Americana leanings. His nasal whine plays off her sweet tone, though "Right Now" reveals in Harris a sultry blues singer wanting to be freed. -- Glenn BurnSilver
Daniel Johnston, Welcome to My World (Eternal Yip Eye Music). Despite the tape hiss and toy instruments, this batch of undistilled rarities captures Daniel Johnston's wit, vulnerability and honesty with 21 gems handpicked by friends and family. Spanning more than two decades that included Johnston's institutional stays for manic depression, the collection makes for a disturbing but beautiful catalogue of art and madness. -- John La Briola
M-1, dead prez Presents: M-1 Confidential (Koch). In some quarters, old school means old news -- but that's not the case with M-1. Musically, this release from dead prez's co-founder is a bit of a flashback, with a guest list that includes Q-Tip. In contrast, M-1's politically charged lyrics could have been ripped from today's headlines. They're a must-read, and a must-hear. -- Roberts
What I Like About Jew, Unorthodox (WhatILikeAboutJew.com). As wrong as greasy brisket floating in a glass of milk, Sean Altman and Rob Tannenbaum specialize in a crass but often hilarious brand of Kosher-centric musical comedy. Lampooning everything from the Rat Pack ("Hot Jewish Chicks") to circumcision ("A Little Off the Top"), these endlessly irreverent shlubs even add dandruff and acne to the list of Passover plagues. Vey iz mir! -- La Briola