Trey Anastasio, The Horseshoe Curve (Rubber Jungle Records). Even folks who hadn't heard that Anastasio pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance last April would know he was on drugs by listening to Horseshoe, a disc in which his guitar is almost always in the background. Nonetheless, the Afro-Cuban grooves and sassy horniness of his oversized band are consistently enjoyable anyway. Yeah, I'm surprised, too. — Roberts
De Novo Dahl, Shout (Roadrunner). On Shout, De Novo Dahl's latest, Joel Dahl's vocals channel vintage Neil Diamond as he navigates his way through carefully constructed electronic terrain. "Shout" is a sweet-natured pop romp that recalls the Arcade Fire, with its chorus-like vocals and youthful exuberance, while "Sexy Come Lately" is an innocent yet blistering love song. — Rob Williams
Halford, Metal God Essentials Vol. 1 (Metal God Entertainment). In the late '70s, Judas Priest crooner Rob Halford was the baddest of the bad — that is, until he admitted he was gay. Now that homosexuality is as acceptable as long hair and tramp stamps, Halford is re-releasing some of the killer music he made while lying low. — Brandon Daviet
Trey Anastasio, De Novo Dahl
Bruce Hornsby/Christian McBride/ Jack DeJohnette, Camp Meeting (Legacy). First off, this isn't a wimpy commercial standards album. Respected pop pianist Bruce Hornsby tests his jazz chops with bassist McBride and drummer DeJohnette and goes way out with a challenging exploration that tackles Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and others. — Glenn BurnSilver
Charles Mingus Sextet With Eric Dolphy, Cornell 1964 (Blue Note). Bassist Charles Mingus hit his stride in the mid-1960s, as exemplified by this rare live performance. His band, featuring reedman Eric Dolphy, finds a perfect balance between iconoclastic individuality and dynamic group interplay. From mellow waltzes to the free-jazz edge, Mingus pushes the envelope — and his band — to exhilarating new heights. — BurnSilver
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Various Artists, Home Schooled: The ABCs of Kid Soul (Numero Group). Many '70s-era juvenile bands aspired to be the next Jackson 5. None of Home Schooled's acts turned this trick, but a lot of them managed a glorious moment or two before their voices changed for the worse, including Triads ("If You're Looking for Love") and Patrizia & Jimmy ("Trust Your Child Pt. 1"). Growing up is overrated. — Roberts