Adele, 19 (Columbia). Obviously, Adele has the pipes to jump the queue and the comparisons among the crowded pack of Brit neo-soul fillies. But most impressive on this stunningly minimalistic debut is her writing, which suggests a career that may avoid self-destruction or caving in to the image fascists. We live in hope. — Mark Bliesener
Creedence Clearwater Revival, Willy and the Poor Boys, 40th Anniversary Edition (Fantasy Records). All of the albums John Fogerty created before quarreling tanked CCR are worth their salt. Perhaps this gem sums up the reasons best, with staples like "Down on the Corner" and the timeless protest of "Fortunate Son" perfecting the blue-collar blues with which Bruce Springsteen would eventually fill stadiums.— Brandon Daviet
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Falconer, Among Beggars and Thieves (Metal Blade). For the casual metal/thrash connoisseur, discovering an enjoyable album nowadays among all the gore-core, extreme metal and just plain talentless bands is like finding a needle in a haystack. This gem excels because of excellent musicianship and intelligent lyrics that don't sound like a rejected horror-movie script. — Daviet
Philip Glass, Glass Box (Nonesuch). Classical-music reviewers have long bashed Glass for what they see as his one-note approach to minimalism — but his signature sound has proven to be surprisingly resilient, not to mention highly influential. Still, it's best appreciated in small doses. Anyone who listens to all ten of these discs consecutively risks coming down with a permanent case of repetitive-motion syndrome. — Michael Roberts
Motörhead, Motorizer (SPV Records). As of now, there are twenty Motörhead albums and over 200 twelve-step programs in existence; both have constantly thrived, dumbfounding naysayers with simple consistency. Motorizer, a wholly unimaginative title, is interchangeable with many of the band's past efforts, but Lemmy's not-so-secret formula still holds the power to inspire curious newcomers.— Daviet
Various Artists, Of Great and Mortal Men (Standard Recording). Alt-rockers ranging from Smog's Bill Callahan to Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart attempt an insane task: creating a song about all 43 United States presidents. It's a funny idea, but the set's no joke. Indeed, these three discs are as fascinating as they are idiosyncratic. Proof that you can write a good song about anything — even Chester A. Arthur. — Roberts