The Jealous Girlfriends, The Jealous Girlfriends (Good Fences Records). If the Cocteau Twins had been a rock band, they might have sounded something like the Jealous Girlfriends. Centering on Holly Miranda's gracefully potent vocals, the New York-based quartet seethes and swirls with just the right balance of menace and melancholy. It's a beautiful racket that makes goth safe for indie kids again. — Eryc Eyl
Kimmie Rhodes, Walls Fall Down (Sunbird Records). A veteran tunesmith who's worked with Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson, Austin-based Kimmie Rhodes knows her way around a good song, whether she's borrowing it from masters like Townes Van Zandt ("If I Needed You") and Rodney Crowell ("Sex & Gasoline") or performing one of her own (the beguiling title track). Walls Fall Down is modest, affecting and lovely. — Roberts
Rollin Hunt, In the Window (Star Ship Stereo). Vocally, Rollin Hunt bears only a passing resemblance to Captain Beefheart and Tom Waits. However, the music and the songwriting here are as eccentric and unique as that of either artist. Hunt's hauntingly rustic songs answer the question "Whatever happened to all those guys who made the music for player pianos and silent movies?" — Tom Murphy
Patti Rothberg, Double Standards (Double On Tundra Records). Able to change personas as fast as a pair of shoes, Rothberg convincingly explores her duality with this set. With electric guitar and piano in reach, she effortlessly plays the streetwise woman as well as the lonely lass. Sure, it's the same trick Patti Smith used, but it's still effective. — Brandon Daviet
Shychild, Noise Won't Stop (Kill Rock Stars). True electro-rock that pays attention to both sides of the hyphen, Shychild makes grimy, grinding bangers that sound just as good blaring out of a Camaro as they do bumping in the club. "Kick Drum," which features a cameo from Spank Rock, is sure to start more than one dance-floor riot this summer. — Eyl
Sole, Desert Eagle (Self-released). The first volume in a series from Anticon's most well-known voice, Eagle finds Sole addressing social ills and political issues with a poetic creativity and thoughtful intelligence absent from similar efforts by many rock bands. These songs don't preach so much as challenge you to think for yourself. — Murphy
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