Hard-ons, Most People Are a Waste of Time (Bad Taste Records). Like a Twinkie filled with dog poo, these seemingly innocuous pop confections serve as an odious delivery system for caustic messages. Sure, the Hard-ons sound like Jan & Dean, but try hassling one of their girlfriends and they'll drown your family. People is more flaccid than their usual work, but Ween and the Butthole Surfers would still be proud. -- Rick Skidmore
Chuck Loeb, Presence (Heads Up). Taking cues from the likes of Wes Montgomery, George Benson -- a guitarist to whom he's dedicated tracks in the past -- and Pat Martino, who gets a tip of the hat on "Mr. Martino," Chuck Loeb delivers a solid collection of laid-back, refined and articulate smooth-jazz numbers on his latest effort. -- Jon Solomon
Minus the Bear, Interpretaciones del Oso (Suicide Squeeze Records). In 2005, Minus the Bear turned itself inside out, transforming its melodic rock into a tic-filled time bomb of stuttering samples, rendering a remix collection like this completely unnecessary. Experimentalist Tyondai Braxton and Crystal Skulls' Yuuki Matthews stand out, but most of the tracks focus on glitches or ambience, sucking the spastic, soulful life out of the originals. -- Eryc Eyl
The Queers, Munki Brain (Asian Man Records). The Queers are one of the most consistent of the seminal punk bands. Utilizing styles as different as night and day, the band delivers a brand of punk that's as provocative as it is poignant. The Sex Pistols may be better known, but the Queers are more important. -- Brandon Daviet
Charles Tolliver Big Band, With Love (Blue Note/Mosaic). For many younger jazz fans, the term "big band" conjures thoughts of hokey solos and arrangements that lumber instead of swing. Not so With Love, in which trumpeter Tolliver and a cadre of instrumental flamethrowers bop, blow and blast their way through six originals, as well as one chestnut (Monk's "'Round Midnight") that tastes great roasted. -- Roberts
Various Artists, Forever Changing: The Golden Age of Elektra Records, 1963-1973 (Rhino/Elektra). Another beautifully designed Rhino boxed set, Changing traces the evolution of Jac Holzman's Elektra imprint from a folkie bastion dominated by the likes of Judy Collins and Tom Rush to a home for the unruly rock of Love, the Doors and the Stooges. These five discs present a history lesson as compellingly schizophrenic as the era they represent. -- Roberts
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