Acute, Arms Around a Stranger (Help Records). Produced by Dave Trumfio, who worked wonders for My Morning Jacket and Wilco, this debut full-length is a solid step forward. Building on the eclectic songwriting Acute displayed on its 2006 EP, the act continues to craft catchy pop hooks that hit home like a late-afternoon caffeine buzz. -- Brandon Daviet
The Chalets, Check In (Setanta Records). This is bound to be huge in Japan. Four fun-loving Irish rockers make dorky, twee party tunes that would be right at home on an early-'90s Simple Machines or spinART compilation. Boy/girl vocals, trebly guitars and inexhaustible energy make Check In the perfect soundtrack for surging hormones and dirty dance floors. -- Eryc Eyl Ornette Coleman, To Whom Who Keeps a Record (Water). Although Sound Grammar, a live platter from last year, is a pleasant slice of present-day Coleman, it can't compare to this bracing reissue of a 1975 album that was originally released in Japan only. These seven tracks, cut in 1959 and 1960, catch Ornette and his ace collaborators in the act of exploding jazz conventions. What a blast. -- Roberts
The Fratellis, Costello Music (Universal Island Records). Blame it on the Monkeys (as in Arctic, not the Mickey Dolenz variety), but America's eminent guitar-rock domain is being challenged by a number of fresh young bands from across the pond. Along with recent releases by the Subways and the View, the Fratellis' Costello Music is not to be missed. -- Mark Bliesener
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Jon Garcia, Jon Garcia (Self-released). Though Jon Garcia often indulges his sensitive singer-songwriter side to a fault, there's enough genre-bending weirdness here to keep this self-titled, self-released debut from becoming another strummy cliche. Hints of Jeff Buckley, Ed Harcourt and Damon Gough provide just enough grit to rough up the smooth folk-rock veneer and make it worth a listen. -- Eyl
James Morrison, Undiscovered (Interscope). Britain's latest white soul sensation is said to vocally resemble Stevie Wonder, but a more accurate touchstone is Paul Young, a previous British white soul sensation who provided '80s listeners with some fleeting pleasure before quietly fading into obscurity. That's probably Morrison's future, too -- so enjoy this disc's fleeting pleasures while you can. -- Roberts
Run-DMC, Live at Montreux (Eagle Rock Entertainment). Live rap albums are few and far between, and they're seldom worth their price tag. Live at Montreux, however, recorded shortly before the murder of Jam Master Jay, is a bold exception. This powerhouse performance confirms the crew's status as the true godfathers of East Coast rap. -- Daviet