Death in June, The Rule of Thirds (Soleilmoon). Samples aside, you'd almost think this was a record straight out of the modern psych-folk movement. But Douglas Pearce has been cultivating this sound since Death in June began to evolve from its post-punk/proto-industrial beginnings 25 years ago. Haunting, profane and delicately textured, if often of a piece. — Murphy
DJ Green Lantern, Music Inspired by Grand Theft Auto IV (Rockstar Games). Film has long inspired great soundtracks. Logically, video games could do the same for mixtapes, especially when you consider that gaming is helping to save the record industry. However, this high-profile attempt is filled with too many low-rent, shoot-'em-up songs that were throwaways to begin with. — Brandon Daviet
Everlast, Love, War and the Ghost of Whitey Ford (Hickory Records). Everlast has been around. Since being discovered by Ice-T, he's fronted House of Pain, survived a heart attack, won a Grammy with Santana and garnered a death threat from Eminem. Here he melds all of his life's peaks and valleys into the perfect hybrid of folk and hip-hop. — Daviet
Mute Era, Night Dreams of Day/Light Dreams of Darkness (Self-released). Essentially a twin album of noisy art punk from this Minneapolis duo, Night Dreams of Day finds Mute Era drawing on its post-punk influences, resulting in a collection of angular, sharp-edged songs that sound like an old new-wave act taking a stab at the avant-garde by writing music as a noise band. — Murphy
Sonny J, Disastro (Astralwerks). The turntablist born Sonnington James III is a superficiality fetishist, relying on pop-culture castoffs as raw material for his danceable gewgaws. When the fun flags on tracks such as "Cabaret Short Circuit," the risks of this approach become clear — but the giddy exuberance of "Enfant Terrible" and "Can't Stop Moving" proves that musical trash can be effectively recycled. — Roberts
U2, Boy, October, War (Island). The double-disc reissues of the first three U2 platters are almost obscenely posh; they're more like hardback books than CDs. Fortunately, the music they contain — including plenty of obscure or previously unreleased tracks — capture the band in its exhilarating youth, when Bono and company were more interested in storming the barricades than in establishing Hall of Fame bona fides. — Roberts
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