Keyshia Cole, Just Like You (Geffen). Judging by the way Cole is marketed, the You in her sophomore CD's title is Mary J. Blige. But if her vocalizing isn't always as distinctive as it could be, she's got a knack for soulful, take-no-crap dramas such as "Shoulda Let You Go" and "Was It Worth It?," a rhetorical smackdown worthy of her role model. — Roberts
John Fogerty, Revival (Fantasy Records). John Fogerty must've spent all those years when he refused to play his own songs working on a time machine, because he picks up right where he left off in the early '70s on Revival, mixing gritty vocals with rocking tales of protest and optimism. — Brandon Daviet
Happy Apple, Happy Apple Back on Top (Sunnyside). David King, known mainly for his exceptional drum chops in the Bad Plus, has also been playing in Happy Apple (which features saxophonist Michael Lewis and bassist Erik Fratzke) for nearly a decade. Back on Top, the trio's seventh album, is tamer than previous efforts, but there's still a ton of dynamic interplay here. — Jon Solomon
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Junk Science, Grandad's Nerve Tonic (Definitive Jux). The intellectual pranksters in Junk Science, with their space-odyssey backdrops and beats that sound like Tribe Called Quest couch-coasting through blunt puffs, have created one of the best records of the year. The intricate, ambient recline of the backgrounds and the liquid spit-wit bring back the summer fun lost in thug hip-pop poseurs. — Terry Sawyer
Puddle of Mudd, Famous (Flawless/Geffen). Famous? Not for much longer. — Roberts
Sea Wolf, Leaves in the River (Dangerbird). If Ernest Hemingway were reincarnated as an indie-pop songwriter, he'd be Alex Church, the man behind Sea Wolf. Church seems to have perfected the subtle art of writing simple, understated melodies, kind of like Hemingway would write a line. An alternate title for this album could be Young Man and the Sea Wolf. — Solomon
Ike and Tina Turner, The Ike and Tina Turner Story (EMI Records). On this three-disc compilation, you can hear the domestic violence brewing that would later mar Ike and Tina's career. Inevitably, there's some completely whack shit on the set. But the majority of the material and performances are solid R&B gold. — Daviet