Bob Dylan - The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 (The Bootleg Series Vol. 9)
This one's only for the Dylan freaks (I dare y'all to purchase the $100+ vinyl box set). If hearing sparse, stripped-down Bob Dylan tracks sends a thrill up your leg, you're gonna wanna give this a listen. I'm particularly fond of Demos' version of "Blowin' in the Wind", channeling the rural soul of folk patriarch Woody Guthrie. I also enjoyed "The Times They Are A-Changin'", devoid of those memorable guitar pluckings, instead played out as a slow piano ballad. Like I said, this one's for the Dylan fans. For the kind of folks who'd buy his book(s) of lyrics.
Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown
I don't know much about these guys other than their monster single "Use Somebody", which invaded airwaves and even hip hop freestyles and remixes. Kings of Leon kinda remind me of a more pop-ish incarnation of the Black Keys (they're great), which isn't too far-fetched since the two bands have been on tour together up until just recently. Upon first listen, I notice that Come Around Sundown can't seem to muster up a track to go toe to toe with the pop levity of "Use Somebody", but that's fine. "Pyro" comes closes, but no cigar. Bottom line: If alt. rock/pop is your thing, this record is worth your time.
Lil Scrappy - Prince of the South 2
#iFux'd with Lil Scrappy back in high school, when he was responsible for (or at least an accomplice to) trunk rattlers like "Head Bussa", "No Problem", "What You Gon' Do", "Knuck If You Buck" and more. You know, the heyday of commercialized crunk, an era I've held a bit of nostalgia for lately. Accordingly, I've kept a casual lookout for new Lil Scrappy whenever it slides by. I also #Fux'd with Bred 2 Die Born 2 Live, his 2006 debut. Prince of the South 2 is an indie-ish release (distributed by Real Talk Entertainment, via Fontana) without a smash hit-like track in sight. Worth a listen only if you cared enough to read... this... paragraph... 'til... the... ver... y... end. Congratulations!
Mt. Desolation - Mt. Desolation
Mt. Desolation is a super-group of sorts, featuring members from various bands, including Keane, The Killers, Noah & The Whale, The Staves, The Long Winters and Mumford & Sons. The culmination of this impressive collaborative shindig is enjoyable, though far from earth-shattering. This is nice cruise music, with tracks like "Departure", "Midnight Ghost" and "Bridal Gown" serving as highlights. Give those three a preview/spin before making your call.
Pastor Troy - Best of Pastor Troy 1
Pastor Troy - Best of Pastor Troy 2
Radio Citizen - Hope and Despair
Oh my Lord! #iFuxwit this album HEAVY! Radio Citizen is guided by German producer Niko Schabel, an artist who got to the letter 'G' in the dictionary and crossed out the entry for "genre." Hope and Despair, a follow-up to 2006's Berlin Serengeti, finds Schabel and Co. tackling dub reggae, soul and various jazz stylings with seamless and marvelous results. The bass on this album will absolutely floor you. Again, #iFuxwitit. Buy this.
Shakira - Sale El Sol
Not my cup of tea (or maté), but to each his/her own. Show me a video of Shakira belly dancing though and I might just change my tune.
Teebs - Ardour
If you #Fuxwit Flying Lotus - which you should - then you're gonna wanna give his homie (and roomie... really) a listen. Teebs and Flying Lotus may come from similar electro-schools of thought, but their methods are different. FlyLo's style is laden with keys and overbearing synths. Teebs offers an almost transcendental alternative, pulsing with sounds reminiscent of wind chimes, laid atop Eastern rhythms and other tranquil textures. This is beautiful music. h/t to Jeff Weiss.
Von Pea - Pea's Gotta Have It
The Brooklyn-bred Tanya Morgan emcee goes for dolo over a series of smooth and highly-bumpable beats. #iFuxwitit.