Beyond Playlist: Miracle Fortress and More

Miracle Fortress Five Roses (Secret City Records)

Canada is spewing out worthy new bands a lot more frequently than it's celebrating Stanley Cup champions. (Sorry, Ottawa fans.) This Montreal combo, led by Graham Van Pelt, specializes in an especially sunny brand of psychedelia, and if the influence of Brian Wilson feels a bit heavy-handed at times, at least they cop to it on "Beach Baby," whose title wasn't chosen at random. Dig those crazy vibrations. -- Michael Roberts

Sinead O'Connor Theology (Koch)

The former cueball is still an intense performer, but also an extremely didactic one, and it doesn't take long for these meditations on Biblical passages to become a stone drag. I'm sure God would love you just as much if your songs were entertaining, Ms. O'Connor. Bailed at: song six, "Job (Watcher of Men)," which qualifies as a real trial. -- Roberts

Mocean Worker Cinco de MOWO! (MOWO Inc.)

The latest from Adam Dorn, aka Mocean Worker, feeds jazz and swing through an electro/dance-club filter to create a sonic hybrid sure to inspire plenty of finger-popping. Highlights include a pair of tracks featuring Rahsaan Roland Kirk samples, a tribute to a certain junkman's spawn called "Son of Sanford," and "Changes," in which guest trumpeter Herb Alpert gets Tijuana brassy. -- Roberts

Fiction Plane Left Side of the Brain (Bieler Records)

How did this totally uninteresting young group land a prime slot opening for the Police on the latter's summer comeback tour/cash-in? The fact that lead singer/bassist Joe Sumner is Sting's son just might have something to do with it. Too bad young Joe sounds an awful lot like Papa wailing bad Counting Crows knockoffs. Bailed at: song six, "Cold Water Symmetry," which features the couplet, "Love is an angel that smokes cigarettes/She's trying to kill me." I know how she feels. -- Roberts

The Afghan Whigs Unbreakable (A Retrospective 1990-2006) (Elektra/Rhino)

The Whigs' stuff sounds less dated than a lot of '90s-vintage modern rock thanks to frontman Greg Dulli, who long ago perfected the character of a horndog lothario with enough dark obsessions to fill a David Lynch film. This generous and well-chosen collection features "I'm a Soldier," a previously unreleased track cut last year that exudes off-kilter soulfulness. Clearly, Dulli (who I knew pre-fame) remains as twisted as ever, and thank goodness. -- Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts