Joseph Arthur, Nuclear Daydream (Lonely Astronaut). Joseph Arthur is the most evocative, emotive performer and writer to surface in quite a while; think Bowie meets Conor Oberst. Arthur's vocals and confessional writing style offer a peep-show peek into his troubled heart. -- Mark Bliesener
Phillip Bimstein, Larkin Gifford's Harmonica (Starkland). The folks at Boulder's Starkland describe Bimstein's latest as "alternative classical" music -- a description that does no justice to this lively aural collage. Bimstein juxtaposes unpredictable instruments with speech samples of the sort that provide the name for "EatDrinkGambleSex." It's a winner. -- Roberts
Flavor Flav, Hollywood (Draytown Records). Flavor Flav's first solo album, in the works almost as long as Axl Rose's Chinese Democracy, has finally been released -- and just in time to capitalize on the rapper's reality-TV fueled stardom. Freed from his role as court jester in Public Enemy, here Flav is intelligent, witty and surprisingly soulful.
-- Brandon Daviet
Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood, Out Louder (Indirecto Records). Like almost every other release by Medeski, Martin & Wood, this album has about two or three good tracks -- maybe four, thanks to the contributions of jazz-guitar legend Jon Scofield. The tunes start out with brilliant funky grooves, and then, sure enough, organist John Medeski screws things up by adding a cheesy carnival organ or some wack-ass accordion sound. -- Shawn Bauer
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Oasis, Stop the Clocks (Columbia). Finally: an Oasis album you can play front to back without cringing. The two-disc set contains all the hits (and some that weren't), plus B-side bonuses craftily sequenced in non-chronological order. The undeniable songwriting prowess and true depth of this band of brothers shines throughout. -- Bliesener
Oddisee, Foot in the Door (Halftooth Records). Oddisee isn't very well-known. To remedy this, the MC/producer rounded up all of his unreleased material from the past couple of years, plus a couple of new songs, and handed everything to DJ Jazzy Jeff to create a mix tape. Unfortunately, most of the music on Foot is mediocre, which means Oddisee will likely remain unknown.
-- Quibian Salazar-Moreno
Various Artists, Sugar Hill Records: A Retrospective (Sugar Hill). No, this isn't the Sugar Hill with the Gang. Rather, it's one of America's finest roots labels. Retrospective, a well-chosen four-CD/one-DVD boxed set, spotlights Nickel Creek, local fave Hot Rize and more. The results are mighty sweet. -- Roberts