Angels of Light, We Are Him (Young God). Michael Gira's path from the Swans to Angels of Light is similar to Nick Cave's journey, but Gira's focus is on intricacies. The devil is in those details — or, in this case, hiding in the organ, disguised by hymns and parables. Exploring backwoods routes lined with banjos and autoharps, Gira finds demons that confront angels where darkness contrasts with light. — Skidmore
Baby Elephant, Turn My Teeth Up (Godforsaken Music). This collaboration between old-school hip-hop producer Prince Paul and veteran funketeer Bernie Worrell is a throwback to the P-Funk glory days, complete with cameos by George Clinton and David Byrne. While the top two borrow from the best, however, they don't rustle up enough surprises of their own. Baby Elephant walks, but it doesn't run. — Roberts
Extra Golden, Hera Ma Nono (Thrill Jockey). There have been numerous albums blending African and American musical forms, but few, if any, featuring the bouncing jive and staccato guitar rhythms of propulsive Kenyan Benga. The up-tempo style blends perfectly with rock, creating a rolling and danceable experience that takes on a Caribbean flavor at times. — Glenn BurnSilver
The Maggots, Monkey Time (Wicked Cool). Now with Farfisa organ! The Maggots' authentic '60s garage sound fits right in with labelmates the Chesterfield Kings and the Woggles. Singer Mans Mansen howls like the dude from the Seeds. Monkey Time has fewer sick jokes than the Swedes' old stuff, but it has the same echoey surf energy and brutal guitar. — Skidmore
Cass McCombs, Dropping the Writ (Domino). Cass McCombs writes beautiful pop songs that sort of sneak up on you as they drift out of the smoke-hazed, psychedelic bliss of the Byrds' acoustic rock, the Mamas & Papas' dreamy harmonies and Revolver-era Beatles. At the same time, his tunes have a subtle modern edge that perfectly places everything in the context of today. — BurnSilver
Various Artists, People Take Warning!: Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs 1913-1938 (Tompkins Square). This outstanding three-CD set is proof that wallowing in musical misery is a lot more entertaining than it sounds. The Skillet Lickers' "Wreck of the Old Southern 97," complete with weird sound effects and an engineer scalded to death by steam, kicks off an astonishing litany of vintage mayhem and destruction. It's a voyeur's delight. — Roberts
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