Brian Blade Fellowship, Season of Changes (Verve). In the eight years since Brian Blade released his last Fellowship album, he's laid down drum tracks on more than sixty albums, including ones by Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones and Wayne Shorter. He's grown tremendously as a musician and composer, and these new songs reflect his subtly powerful and stunningly beautiful drum skills. — Jon Solomon
Goldfrapp, Seventh Tree (Mute). Genre-bending Brit dance duo Goldfrapp has done an abrupt about-face from its last release, delivering an ethereal, ballad-heavy disc that's more Joni Mitchell than Giorgio Moroder. Fans of the act's sexually charged previous efforts won't be disappointed, though, as Allison's purr and Will's wizardry remain in place. — Mark Bliesener
Hayes Carll, Trouble in Mind (Lost Highway). This musical trip to Guitar Town contains more bad-ass C&W delights than a dozen hot-country platters. From "Drunken Poet's Dream," which rhymes "scream" with "mescaline," to the hilariously sacrilegious lament "She Left Me for Jesus," Hayes Carll's Lost Highway debut drips with wit, sass and authenticity. Here comes Trouble, and thank goodness. — Roberts
Juno Reactor, Gods & Monsters (Metropolis). Ben Watkins makes most of his coin composing film music, which explains why the aural elements heard on Gods & Monsters prove so visual. The electronic filigree that drives "Inca Steppa," featuring the sultry tones of Taz Alexander, and the over-the-top melodrama dubbed "Perfect Crime" suggest soundtracks in search of scenes capable of doing them justice. Cut and print. — Roberts
Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog, Party Intellectuals (Pi). Since honing his chops with John Zorn and Tom Waits in the '80s, Marc Ribot has become one of the most multi-faceted guitarists today. He's equally deft in avant-jazz, rock, Latin and noise, and he tosses all that and more into this record, backed by bassist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Ches Smith. — Solomon
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Steve Reich, Daniel Variations (Nonesuch). Classical innovator Steve Reich's latest is dominated by a four-part musical cycle inspired by the Book of Daniel and murdered reporter Daniel Pearl. The juxtaposition of Reich's repetitive structures, which still seem forward-looking all these years later, and the lamentations of the Los Angeles Master Chorale results in a stirring work: minimalism that evokes a maximum of emotion. — Roberts