GIRL TALK | FEED THE ANIMALS | ILLEGAL ART
Why waste time? Just grab the best parts of the best songs, fit Tab A into Slot B, and explode a magnificent pop experience. From Twisted Sister to Jay-Z, everything in these mash-ups fits snugly.
TV ON THE RADIO | DEAR SCIENCE | INTERSCOPE
Groove usually helps everything it touches, and while these guys had plenty of global headaches to lament about and rail against, their complaints were propelled by lots of forward motion.
NE-YO | YEAR OF THE GENTLEMAN | DEF JAM
Dapper tunes from a dapper guy who abandons the cad stereotype to treat romance as something to be nurtured. And he brought plenty of beats with him, too.
SANTOGOLD | DOWNTOWN
An ultra-cosmopolitan blend of ska'lectro and dub-rock by a flamboyant artist who gave lots of heart to hip-hop's sampledelic strategies. She even has a bit of Poly Styrene in her voice.
RANDY NEWMAN | HARPS AND ANGELS | NONESUCH
The most waggish wiseacre we have in the over-50 crew mocks our staunch refusal to take care of each other on the medical, educational, cultural, and political fronts, cackling as we collapse. You get the government you vote for.
ERYKAH BADU | NEW AMERIKAH, PART 1 (4TH WORLD WAR) | MOTOWN
A profound mix of daring and imagination, all in the name of future funk. It takes her into all sorts of unpredictable realms. Formulas were meant to be fucked with? Oh yeah.
BON IVER | FOR EMMA, FOREVER AGO | JAGJAGUWAR
Some wounds just won't heal, and some laments, like this one made by a dude in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, just won't leave your head. Earnest pining at its most evocative.
THE KNUX | REMIND ME IN THREE DAYS . . . | INTERSCOPE
Two brothers who left New Orleans for the West Coast, bringing plenty of bohemia with 'em. Not exactly silly, but certainly sporting that Native Tongues dedication to fun that once defined rap. "Hey Scotty, ready for takeoff."
NAS | UNTITLED | EPIC
The first two minutes are some of the best rhyming hip-hop has ever given us, and the rest is a strong stab at indicting every cluck, liar, and downpresser the wildly vital MC spots in his crosshairs.
EL GUINCHO | ALEGRANZA | XL
There's a sense of fabulousness in the sprawl laid before us by the Spanish producer. It's party music built on samples that come from around the world to live in celebratory unison in a hard drive somewhere.
DAFNIS PRIETO | TAKING THE SOUL OUT FOR A WALK | DAFNISONMUSIC
Feisty and entrancing ensemble charts get plenty of liftoff from the virtuoso Cuban drummer and his mid-sized crew.
JANE IRA BLOOM | MENTAL WEATHER | OUTLINE
She has always been about grace as much as experimentation. With Bloom's lithe soprano sax leading the way, this is a wonderful blend of both.
LIONEL LOUEKE | KARIBU | BLUE NOTE
The guitarist brought rhythms from his native Benin to tunes that teased counterpoint into feeling like funk.
ADAM KOLKER | FLAG DAY | SUNNYSIDE
A sublime sax quartet disc led by a guy who chose to play lines that quietly go their own way and tug you along with them.