Baby Bash, Cyclone (Arista). The Basher plays up his Latin roots on "Mamacita," but the sauce he uses is mild instead of spicy. The other tracks couldn't be any more radio-friendly if their lyrics promised DJs $1,000 a play. Still, only the title cut, boosted by Lil Jon's signature synth whine, is likely to linger after this twister stops spinning. — Roberts
Chris Botti, Italia (Sony). Trumpeters understand the miraculous control and technique Botti employs. The feeling he evokes on such cuts as "Deborah's Theme" and "Caruso" and his understated tone allows the songs to speak through the horn without flash. Too much reliance on the mute plagues some selections, but guests Dean Martin and Andrea Bocelli more than compensate. — Rick Skidmore
Mikaela's Fiend/Twin, self-titled split CD (S.A.F. Records). Mikaela's Fiend's furious, proggy noise rock incorporates elements of harsh noise and a futuristic punk we started hearing hints of with the Locust and Lightning Bolt. The songs by Twin are jaggedly paced, ever-so-menacing post-punk art rock, with spooky edges like a collaboration between Siouxsie and Nina Hagen. — Murphy
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NOFX, They've Actually Gotten Worse Live (Fat). Back in 1983, NOFX helped invent a lighter breed of hardcore that infused humor into a style in dire need of lightening up, and this live album shows why that's still a great formula. Running through songs new and old, the band sounds just as juvenile as it did two decades ago. — Brandon Daviet
Emmy Rossum, Inside Out (Geffen). How did one of the hottest women alive make such a boring album? The usual way. — Roberts
Mishka Shubaly, How To Make a Bad Situation Worse (Terrasoul Music). Everyone's favorite liquorfied slacker indie prophet returns with his signature cadre of songs about love and loss masked behind a heavy layer of unflinching cynicism. On this third release, Shubaly's gift for soul-baring honesty is on full display as he transforms familiar sounds into a ragged and passionate defiance worthy of Tom Waits. — Murphy
Neil Young, Chrome Dreams II (Reprise Records). Only Neil Young can build a whole album around a fifteen-minute song, then release that song as a single and make it work. Chrome Dreams II is Young's most rockin' effort since Year of the Horse. Springsteen may have some Magic, but Young has the gods on his side. — Daviet