Bridge and Tunnel East/West (No Idea). Bridge and Tunnel channel the spirit and energy of former project Latterman, without the pretense and political correctness that made that act meet its early demise. East/West features heartfelt lyrics gang-shouted over soaring, Red Sparrows-influenced melodies. The album is insightful and sensitive but will scream at you until that is recognized.
— Andy Thomas
Busy Signal, Loaded (VP Records). These days, reggae-inflected music often tends toward one of two extremes: traditional sounds or high-energy dancehall/hip-hop hybrids. Reanno Gordon, known as Busy Signal, wisely refuses to limit himself to these options, choosing instead to tackle a wide range of conscious and party-oriented material that takes every advantage of modern studio techniques. That's a positive Signal.
El Guincho, Alegranza! (Young Turks/XL Recordings). What the Field did for soft rock and minimal techno, Barcelona's El Guincho does for Latin music and synthetic sunshine pop: builds the latter out of tiny samples of the former, hypnotizing us before pulling the rug out from under us. Here's one record that deserved a summer release.
— Kyle Smith
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The Grateful Dead, Rocking the Cradle: Egypt 1978 (Rhino Records). Like Coen Brothers movies, the Grateful Dead's live shows are either home runs or mildly entertaining spectacles. Despite the magnitude of the venue, the band didn't perform their Sunday best in Egypt. This long-awaited official release shows that the aloof spontaneity that's served them well didn't always pay off.
— Brandon Daviet
Tina Turner, Tina! (Capitol Records). Consistency over controversy has proved sustaining for this leggy diva's career, who's best known for "Private Dancer" and her feminized cover of "Proud Mary." Tina! delves deeper than that, though, and includes a live take of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" and Turner's James Bond theme "Goldeneye," among other gems. — Daviet
Young Jeezy, The Recession (Def Jam). On 2006's The Inspiration, Jeezy transcended the gangsta subgenre without leaving it — and damned if he hasn't done it again. Instead of dispensing empty boasts about wealth and commerce, The Recession acknowledges hard times, complete with a timely reference to the Fed — and yet "Crazy World" and others sound as cocky and aggressive as the strongest thug fare. — Roberts