Naim Amor, Exsanguine (Amormusic). Naim Amor's Exsanguine is a joyously atmospheric 1960s soundtrack to a dinner party in a Tucson barrio hosted by a Parisian couple in a Peter Sellers film. Comprising outtakes from Amor's upcoming disc, Sanguine, Exsanguine is a stellar avant-pop collection imbued with savoir faire. -- Rogers
Don Caballero, World Class Listening Problem (Relapse). Only drummer Damon Che remains from the early days of the Don, whose crushingly intricate, word-free epics defined one aspect of math rock. It's fortunate, then, that the new kids are just as technically freaky as the instrumentalists who came before them. They offer up behemoth riffs, ornate time signatures and proggy structures that more than solve this Problem. -- Roberts
The Coma Recovery, Drown That Holy End in Wine (Failed Experiment Records). Majoring in math, minoring in emo, with plenty of electives in prog, the Coma Recovery delivers dense, ambitious rockets of metallic hardcore, engineered by These Arms Are Snakes drummer Chris Common. Though the aesthetic is reminiscent of TAAS's incendiary debut, this quintet's lyrical and musical sophistication never quite hits that mark. -- Eryc Eyl
Matt Nathanson, Live at The Point (Acrobat). Until you've seen Matt Nathanson live, it's impossible to fully understand how he combines his melancholy-wrenching acoustic songs with an acidic sense of humor. This live album captures those moments, and the set list draws from several of his releases, providing a balanced introduction to the talented and bitingly funny young songwriter. -- Heather Browne
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Gram Parsons, The Complete Reprise Sessions (Reprise/Rhino). A message to those who haven't been hectored into checking out the late, great Gram Parsons by lovestruck critics and musicians: Now's the time to succumb. This three-disc boxed set compiles beautifully remastered recordings that contemporary performers continue to imitate, plus oddities and outtakes that press the geek button hard. So surrender, doubters, and finally give Parsons his due. -- Roberts
Jan Smith, 29 Dances (Landslide). If Gillian Welch fronted Union Station, she might very well have produced an album that sounds like this -- save for the cloying, mawkish lyrics. Dances is a musically sublime, if too commercially viable, newgrass-folk mixture, but Smith lacks the irreverence to become a true alt-country chanteuse. -- Rogers
The Vacation, The Vacation (American). The Vacation is balls-to-the-wall rock for rock's sake. On its self-titled debut, the act rips through 35 minutes of gritty, hard-driving songs that channel the Stooges, Alice Cooper, AC/DC and the Ramones. Classic cliche lines like "I wanna taste your cherry cola" add just the right note of authenticity. -- Glenn BurnSilver