Dirty Projectors, Rise Above (Dead Oceans). Rise Above is probably one of the most creative — and subsequently insane — ideas out there. Take a classic album (oh, say, Damaged, by Black Flag) and then pull an Alec Baldwin on SNL on it and create something no one asked you to create. The Dirty Projectors make one of the toughest albums ever into the most flaccid. — Andrew Fersch
DJ DB, The Secret Art of Science 2: Then and Now (Koch). The acclaimed drum-and-bass DJ and co-founder of Breakbeat Science reaches way back for chill classics by Danny Breaks and Alex Reece before smoothly and soulfully leaping forward to today with Klute and his own project, Ror-Shak. Despite the historical span and genre-jumping, this mix is a scintillating spin for the chill-out room at your next house party. — Eryc Eyl
Os Mutantes, Live at the Barbican Theatre 2006 (Luaka Bop). Though it was recorded more than forty years after the groundbreaking Brazilian outfit formed, this live recording of Os Mutantes' reunion show in London serves as an ideal greatest-hits collection. It's flawlessly recorded, mercifully free of between-song applause and banter, and performed with the same psych-pop giddiness and abandon that blew minds in '60s Brazil. — Eyl
Pentacle, Under the Black Cross (Ibex Moon Records). The latest from the eighteen-year-old Dutch death-metal outfit Pentacle is a concept album about a monumental British raid on occupied France during World War II. The weighty subject matter makes an ideal backdrop for the band's traditionalist approach to heavy, horrific metal. It's nothing new, but for death-metal purists, it's pretty perfect. — Eyl
Secondhand Serenade, A Twist in My Story (Independent Label Group). Serenader John Vesley treats every song like the tear-jerking soundtrack to the goopiest chick flick ever. When he wails, "You are an angel/Making all my dreams come true to-night!" during "Stranger," he's got more in common with Celine Dion than Rivers Cuomo. The results sound like emo going down on the Titanic. — Michael Roberts
Chris Walla, Field Manual (Barsuk Records). "Colorado, are you listening?" Walla asks in "A Bird Is a Song" — and those answering in the affirmative will find Death Cab for Cutie's guitarist/producer in familiar territory. "The Score" features topical lyrics and more power-pop guitar than usual, while "Sing Again" sports an intriguing arrangement. But everything else is pleasantly predictable. Too bad Walla didn't go further a-Field.
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