Ben Allison, Little Things Run the World (Palmetto). Ben Allison is a brilliant composer, and here he's cooked up another batch of adventurous originals as well as a reworking of his outstanding cut "Respiration," which originally appeared on 2004's Buzz, with guitarist Steve Cardenas and trumpeter Ron Horton. Also stellar is the group's interpretation of "Jealous Guy," done in the key of Donny Hathaway. — Jon Solomon
Russ Nolan & the Kenny Werner Trio, With You in Mind (Rhinoceruss). This album belongs as much to saxophonist Russ Nolan as it does to the Kenny Werner Trio, which features bassist Johannes Weidenmuller and drummer Ari Hoenig. The disc is made up of Nolan originals, save for John Coltrane's "Naima," and each of the four musicians contributes innovative playing throughout. — Solomon
Punch Brothers, Punch (Nonesuch). Bluegrass sticklers critical of Chris Thile for tinkering with the genre in Nickel Creek won't know what to do with his latest project. The Punch Brothers employ mandolin and other down-home instruments in wildly ambitious ways, touching upon classical, jazz and plenty more. Not everything on Punch works, but even the occasional missteps intrigue. Purists be damned. — Roberts
Saviours, Into Abaddon (Kemado Records). The world of underground metal is positively teeming with retrogressive headbangers who find their grooves by spiking Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath with punk attitude and post-Kyuss bong loads. Few do it better than Oakland's Saviours, whose sophomore effort cements the band as a leader of the new school even as it treads hallowed but well-worn ground. — Eryc Eyl
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Sons & Daughters, This Gift (Domino). Sons & Daughters would sound like just another jittery U.K. guitar band were it not for Adele Bethel. Rather than sinking into the mix whipped up by Suede veteran Bernard Butler, the nearly brogue-free Scottish lass dominates it to deliver edgy lines of the sort heard in "Gilt Complex" and "Iodine." She's the real gift. — Roberts
This Will Destroy You, This Will Destroy You (Magic Bullet Record Co.). This Will Destroy You's latest self-titled effort slowly boils and overflows with sweeping, monolithic, instrumental rock that surges down the same river bed carved by 2006's Young Mountain. Grand Canyon-sized echoes lead to crashing crescendos, while supple melodies mature into a lion's roar of reverberating rock. Coldplay and U2 would admire this operatic range of emotion. — Kevin Galaba
Various Artists, I'm Not There Original Soundtrack (Sony BMG Music). Dylan purists will probably decry this expansive soundtrack of covers by a wide variety of artists. But the collection, which features old folkies (Roger McGuinn, Ramblin' Jack Elliot) alongside indie stars (Cat Power, Stephen Malkmus), hits on fan favorites and hidden gems with enjoyable balance, regardless of what Dylan snobs would have you believe. — Nick Schreiber