The Black Crowes, Warpaint (Silver Arrow). On their first studio release since re-forming in 2005, the Robinson brothers show how a little time off from each other can work wonders. Warpaint continues to improve their winning brand of Southern-fried power-blues rock and may finally silence critics who insist on throwing out lazy comparisons the Crowes have long since outgrown. — Bob Ruggiero
British Sea Power, Do You Like Rock Music? (Rough Trade). British Sea Power's sound rises from a subterranean morass of soil, blood and distortion, enabling the act to connect with its audience on a truly visceral level. Although Rock Music is too calculated to be transcendent, ultimately falling short of the band's impossibly high standards, it could still be a prelude to true greatness. — Chris Henderson
Bullet For My Valentine, Scream Aim Fire (Jive). Scream packs more crunch than your favorite breakfast cereal floating in a bowl of Hair Metal Growth Hormone. The prize in the box is that the songs on Scream are tighter than 2005's The Poison, moving away from reckless, rabid aggression and toward the armored discipline of Metallica and Megadeth. — Kevin Galaba
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Blind Boys of Alabama, Down in New Orleans (Time/Life). Lead singer Jimmy Carter has lent his sturdy voice to the righteous praise of gospel music with the Blind Boys since 1939. Sharing the honors with God this time is the sound of New Orleans — a city in need of divine attention — courtesy of the swinging Preservation Hall Jazz Band. — Galaba
Dirty Projectors, Rise Above (Dead Oceans). Rise Above is probably one of the most creative — and subsequently insane — ideas out there: Take a classic album (Black Flag's Damaged), pull an Alec Baldwin on SNL on it and create something no one asked you to. The Dirty Projectors turn one of the toughest albums ever into the most flaccid. — Andrew Fersch
The Helio Sequence, Keep Your Eyes Ahead (Sub Pop Records). Singer Brandon Summers's damaged vocal cords have taken the Sequence's sound in a slightly new direction. Now, there's a Dylanesque folk injection that seeps into the corners of the act's jangly indie-pop sound. Modest Mouse drummer Benjamin Weikel effectively straddles the divide, deftly linking bluesy harmonica with upbeat '80s bounce. — Galaba
Van Morrison, Keep It Simple (Lost Highway). Van Morrison pumped up some of his previous albums with horns and strings, but on Keep It Simple he does just as the title implies. Often backed by only a rhythm section, guitars and keys, the seasoned crooner allows his silky tenor to be the centerpiece on this new batch of tunes. — Jon Solomon