Nathaniel Mayer, Why Don't You Give It to Me? (Alive Records). Forty years removed from his R&B hits, Detroit's Nathaniel Mayer fuses soul with psychedelic rock. His co-conspirators on this effort include members of the Black Keys, the Dirtbombs and SSM — kids half his age. The guest stars relentlessly rock their way through eight original soul stompers plus a surprising cover of Delroy Wilson's "Dancing Mood." It's no Electric Mud, but it's close. — Mark Bliesener
Motel Motel, Old York (Sub Terra Angel). Behold the Denver sound being channeled from New York City. Call it y'allternative from Yonkers — or emo kids doing murder ballads. However you slice it, Old York echoes like the ringing of spare change in a busker's guitar case on a lonely subway platform. It's pure rock stripped down to humble country roots. — Rob Williams
Mick Turner/Tren Brothers, Blue Trees (Drag City). In addition to his work in Dirty Three, guitarist Mick Turner performs solo or with D3 drummer Jim White as the Tren Brothers. Far from seeming scattershot, the side-project samples collected here coalesce around Turner's unhurried, thoroughly captivating approach. The journey will probably prove too knotty for some listeners, but adventurous types should enjoy getting lost among Blue Trees. — Roberts
Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation Deluxe Edition (Geffen). Daydream Nation was a watershed album that proved noise rock could have rhythm, power and even catchy hooks without popping eardrums. So how do you make one of the most important albums of all time even better? Easy: Add rare demo tracks and a killer live disc from the original tour. — Glenn BurnSilver
Various Artists, Healing the Divide (Anti-). This live recording, which benefits Richard Gere's Healing the Divide foundation, features intriguing Tibetan music and four strong tracks by Tom Waits, who teams with the Kronos Quartet in between cracking wise about guest of honor the Dalai Lama. "His Holiness goes to bed at 7:30," he says at one point. "That's not the Holiness I used to know..." — Roberts
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Vicious Lips, Star Rats (Fat Elvis Records). Taking a page from the White Stripes, this U.K. duo pushes the limits with bass and drums. Spooky organ overlays add fire to Sash's smoky vocals on "So Boring" and "Gonna Get Ya," while "I Hate" is pure high-octane fuzz and thump rock guaranteed to satisfy your gritty low-fi longings. — Williams