Alice Cooper, Along Came a Spider (SPV Records). Alongside modern-day "slasher" films, this PG-rated tale doesn't deliver the same shock as Cooper's 1975 magnum opus, Welcome to My Nightmare. Still, the serial-killer story is on par with any decent episode of CSI, and it's not bogged down with the narcissistic musical grandiosity that ruins many concept albums. — Brandon Daviet
Frightened Rabbit, The Midnight Organ Fight (FatCat). Today's nominees in the Band With the Most Inappropriate Name contest don't use a single unusual element; the resounding guitars, splashy hi-hat and wailed vocals are as familiar as can be. But the passion of this trio, spurred by sibling Scots, is so persuasive that the album makes a substantial impact anyhow. Frightened this Rabbit isn't — or silly, either. — Roberts
Willie Nelson, Stardust (Sony Legacy). Rod Stewart may have logged the most recent success of revamping songs from the "Great American Songbook," but Willie Nelson did it decades ago, broke sales records, enjoyed a relaxing smoke and had forgotten about it by then. This re-release features the classic album and sixteen new tracks. — Daviet
Pinetop Perkins, Pinetop Perkins and Friends (Telarc). Not many living artists can claim direct ties to the golden age of the blues, yet piano player Pinetop Perkins boasts links to Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson and Robert Nighthawk. On his latest, he's joined by eminent guests Eric Clapton, B.B. King and Jimmie Vaughan. If you like the boogie, you won't be let down. — Nick Hutchinson
Lou Reed, Playlist: The Very Best of Lou Reed (RCA/Legacy). The new Playlist series eschews the just-the-biggest-hits approach to compilations in favor of picking legitimate career highlights based as much on quality as popularity — which in Reed's case means obscurities like the ferocious "Kicks" (from Coney Island Baby) and Street Hassle's epic, eleven-minute title track. What? A record company comes up with a good idea? Stop the presses. — Roberts
UH HUH HER, Common Reaction (Nettwerk Records). There's a renaissance of modern rock lately. While St. Louis's Ludo has been representing Elvis Costello's insane pessimism, this L.A. duo stays true to the synth-rock simplicity of the Cars. Although most of the songs' lyrics are like bad dialogue from The Hills, the tunes are still ridiculously danceable. — Daviet
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