- Mike Watt & the Missingmen: Hyphenated-Man (Clenched Wrench/Original Recordings Group) - Mr. Watt apparently got the idea for this 30 song album (opera) from Hieronymus Bosch's famous painting/triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. The songtitles refer to several of the strange figures in that work, who Watt takes to represent different aspects in his own life. These are short, snappy songs, linking the styles of Minutemen and Firehose -- the Missingmen is also a bass, guitar & drums trio. The bass is very much the primary driving force, and Watt delivers his associative words in his distinctive, rough voiced, sea-chanty style. As you'd expect, it's dynamic and jumpy, even if the barrage does make seem a bit samey towards the end. Picks of the bunch: the spikey "Belly-Stabbed-Man" and the mellow guitar-driven "Hollowed-Out-Man". (7/10)*
- PJ Harvey: Let England Shake (Island) - Collaborating with both John Parish and Mick Harvey, this music is sparse in terms of instrumentation yet powerful in terms of impact. The autoharp is prominent throughout, which lends the music and eerie feel, and critique of war mongering politics is the overriding theme. Picks of the bunch: "The Words that Maketh Murder" & "The Colour of the Earth" (7/10) *
- Drive-By Truckers: Go-Go Boots (ATO) - Murder ballads, DBT style. Pick: "Used to Be a Cop" (7/10)*
- Jamaladeen Tacuma: For the Love of Ornette (Jam All Productions) - The most interesting electric bass player (and one of the best dressed gentlemen) in jazz since the mid 70s, Tacuma makes a convincing harmolodics inspired tribute to Ornette Coleman. Pick: "Tacuma Song" (6/10)*
- Bright Eyes: The People's Key (Saddle Creek) - (6/10)*
* Grades are tentative, based on three or four listens, though quite often a few more. Much of the writing is done during listens, and should be considered notes more than final reviews.