Beautiful Creatures, Deuce (Spitfire). These cats have gotta be creaming their acid-wash jeans. Thanks to the Crüe, who showed up just as the Velvet was starting to rub off the Revolver, cock rock is once again viable, which means these refugees from the Revlon era (vocalist Joe Leste previously lent his throat to Bang Tango) may finally have a shot at getting laid for the first time since Nevermind. -- Dave Herrera
New Buffalo, The Last Beautiful Day (Arts & Crafts). Although Australian singer-songwriter Sally Seltmann's compositions are perfectly pleasant here, the production by Jake Davies, who helped engineer and program Bjrk's Vespertine, gooses them to gorgeousness. The subtitle of "I've Got You and You've Got Me" -- "Song of Contentment" -- accurately conveys New Buffalo's appeal. This disc is simply Beautiful. -- Roberts
Friends of Dean Martinez, Live at Club 2 (Aero Recordings). More than 120 minutes of instrumental scorch from Bill Elm's phenomenally moody trio is captured live from Munich and Berlin. The European release of this two-disc set (which includes blistering versions of "Summertime" and "Tennessee Waltz") impressed Russia's Playboy magazine enough to fly the Friends to the Borscht Belt for an exclusive show. Perestroika über alles. -- John La Briola
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Clue to Kalo, One Way, It's Every Way (Mush). Even if you think chamber pop belongs in the chamber pot, it's impossible to hate this disc. Clue to Kalo's Mark Mitchell steeps honeycombed whispers in harpsichords and arpeggios -- only with an IDM twist that's more tickly than prickly. The Left Banke meets Badly Drawn Boy? Don't flush. -- Heller
The Giraffes, The Giraffes (Razor & Tie). Brooklyn yowler Aaron Lazar has already had two heart attacks, and he's only 28. Equipped with a Dick Cheney-style defibrillator that shocks his ass when he gets too excitable, the Giraffes frontman still manages to jump-start metallic sleaze with a voracious appetite for sex, drugs and bad choices. -- La Briola
Silver Jews, Tanglewood Numbers (Drag City). The Silver Jews can no longer be described as a Pavement side project, since the latter crumbled. Yet Numbers, which teams longtimers Stephen Malkmus, Bob Nastanovich and group leader David Berman with the likes of Will Oldham, feels as charmingly casual and shrugged-off as ever. It's serious fun, because it's not taken seriously. -- Roberts
The 101'ers, Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited (Astralwerks). Joe Strummer never disowned his gawky adolescence as a 101'er. After all, these demos and live cuts from 1975-1976 are a rowdy, rousing romp through throwback rock that notarizes the Clash's Garageland pedigree. Hardly essential -- but then again, Strummer could have dumped his lungs into a food processor and it still would have been worth hearing. -- Heller