C'mon in, the water's fine in the wet, wild world of new music releases
Aesop Rock, None Shall Pass (Def Jux) We'll see if 'Sop has lost his edge livin' in ol' Frisky. Blockhead and Mountain Goats' John Darnielle take a pass on the nervy rhymes.
Akon, Konvicted (Konvict/Upfront/SRC/Universal Motown) Konvinced? Or just plain a-korny?
Evelyn Champagne King, Open Book (RNB/Jaggo/Fontana) The disco queen who was discovered while cleaning the offices of Philly International brings "Shame" into the 21st century.
Ledisi, Lost and Found (Verve Forecast) The local singer's debut for the true diva cathedral of all jazz labels has been three years in the making.
Liars, Liars (Mute) Work that skirt.
Noreaga, Noreality (Babygrande) Wake me up when Noreality TV has finished its broadcast day. Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Jadakiss, Three 6 Mafia, David Banner, and a cast of thousands trade off on enabling duty.
Scorpions, Humanity — Hour 1 (New Door/UME) Oh, the inhumanity; Billy Corgan scorps out new turf.
Yung Joc, Hustlenomics (Block/Bad Boy South) Joc'ed up on java with the first single, "Coffee Shop," off this Neptunes-, Fixxers-, and Gorilla Zoe–produced disc.
Calvin Harris, I Created Disco (Almost Gold) The brazen Scot is irreverent enough to lay claim to inventing the big D, the buzzword of this year and the year before.
Animal Collective, Strawberry Jam (Domino) Helmed by frequent Sun City Girls producer Scott Colburn, their eighth album's nine songs include one dedicated to Al Green.
B5, Don't Talk, Just Listen (Bad Boy) Diddy's answer to the Backstreet Boys unknowingly use the favorite phone phrase of the Weepy-Voiced Killer as the title for their album.
Dirty Projectors, Rise Above (Dead Oceans) Another punk machismo-reclamation project? Queerific art rockers team with Grizzly Bear playas to rewrite Black Flag's Damaged — from memory and with a hearty helping of cracked experifolk whimsy.
50 Cent, Curtis (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope) The artist also known as a form of VitaminWater that tastes like grape Kool-Aid continues his marketing onslaught.
Go! Team, Proof of Youth (Sub Pop) Will their first single, "Grip Like a Vice," hook till it hurts?
Jenny Hoyston, Isle Of (Southern) The Erase Errata guitarist finds paradise far from the dashboard blight.
Modeselektor, Happy Birthday! (BPitch Control) Genre-hopping Berlin duo go the celebrity cameo route, enlisting the vox of Thom Yorke and others.
Pinback, Autumn of the Seraphs (Touch and Go) Will this top Pinback's last album, Summer in Abbadon, which sold more than 80,000 copies? Indie music sellers wanna know!
Qui, Love's Miracle (Ipecac) Jesus Lizard David Yow's quid pro quo — with covers of Pink Floyd's "Echoes" and Frank Zappa's "Willie the Pimp."
Simian Mobile Disco, Attack Decay Sustain Release (Interscope) I got my pulverizing bass in your acid keyboard scrunchies!
Kanye West, Graduation (Roc-A-Fella) West's mom has been caught saying that this is his best album ever. Making or breaking the case: West has said that Lil' Wayne will rap over a song titled "Barry Bonds."
Babyface, Playlist (Mercury) The onetime close, personal friend of Bill just wants do covers, like "Fire and Rain," "Time in a Bottle," and — hoo boy — "Knockin' on Heaven's Door."
James Blunt, All the Lost Souls (Custard/Atlantic) U-g-l-y, this ain't got no alibi.
Chamillionaire, Ultimate Victory (Chamillitary/Universal Motown) The H-town star's long-delayed sophomore effort has a mammoth supporting cast even by commercial-rap standards; it kicks off with a single featuring Slick Rick.
The Donnas, Bitchin' (Purple Feather/Redeye) Named after the fluffy puppies overrunning their studio?
Eve, Here I Am (Aftermath/Interscope) Had anyone been looking? Listening in are producers Dr. Dre, Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, and Pharrell Williams.
Rogue Wave, Asleep at Heaven's Gate (Brushfire/Universal) Just don't drift off around Marshall Applewhite while wearing black-and-white Nikes. A new bass player — Patrick Abernathy — and a new label for the locals.
Angie Stone, The Art of Love and War (Stax/Concord) The road back from VH1's Celebrity Fit Club may yet be one to salvation, since it's passing through the holy land of Stax.
Devendra Banhart, Smokey Rolls down Thunder Canyon (XL) Gael García Bernal sings on one track, and Vashti Bunyan sings on two; Noah Georgeson produces a collection that is supposed to flit from Gilberto Gil breezes to Jackson 5–style pop.
The Cave Singers, Invitation Songs (Matador) Pretty Girls Make Graves–Murder City Devils, Hint Hint, and Cobra High grads calcify in intriguing country-folk shapes.
Keyshia Cole, Just like You (A&M/Interscope) Two years on, it's clear that Oakland girl Cole's The Way It Is was the best R&B debut since What's the 411? Through the sheer intense focus of her singing, she rescues overexposed Missy and Lil' Kim on the first single here.
José González, In Our Nature (Mute) Yes way, José. The long wait for the follow-up to Veneer is over. González recorded this in his hometown over a three-week period after obsessing about today's religion and (lack of) ethics.
PJ Harvey, White Chalk (Island) Peej draws in longtime collaborator Eric Drew Feldman and Jim White of the Dirty Three.
Iron and Wine, The Shepherd's Dog (Sub Pop) Here's hoping three's the charm for Sam Beam.
Jagged Edge, Baby Makin' Project (So So Def/Island) Yet another case for population control.
Mick Jagger, The Very Best of Mick Jagger (Rhino UK) It's semiofficial: the best of Mick Jagger is worse than the worst of the Rolling Stones.
Bettye LaVette, The Scene of the Crime (Anti-) A singer who can bring out the black-and-blue tone of that title, especially because the scene of the crime is Muscle Shoals, Ala., where she returned to record this album. She's backed by Drive-by Truckers.
Matt Pond PA, Last Light (Altitude) Neko Case and Kelly Hogan hold a candle.
Múm, Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy, Let Your Crooked Hands Be Holy (Fat Cat) Mum's the word?
Meshell Ndegeocello, The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams (Decca) Connecting her MySpace page to the gender-bending edges of her cover of Bill Withers's "Who Is He (and What Is He to You?)," you might say the man of her dreams is Miles Davis.
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand (Rounder) Why does my mouth fill with sand when I think about this project?
Queen Latifah, Trav'lin' Light (Verve) Latifah steps to a song that will always be owned by Billie Holiday — and sings some other songs as well — on her debut album for one of Lady Day's main labels today.
Scott Walker, And Who Shall Go to the Ball? (4AD UK) The enigma returns more quickly than usual, albeit with a four-movement instrumental mini-LP composed for a dance piece.
Will.i.am, Songs about Girls (Interscope) The Black Eyed Pea with the lamest name loves the ladies, egged on by Snoop Dogg.
Cassidy, B.A.R.S. (Full Surface/J) The Philly battle rapper rebounds from injury and lockup and leans on Bone Thugs, John Legend, and others for faith.
Annie Lennox, Songs of Mass Destruction (Arista) No doubt about it, "Why?" can be very irritating. But this title suggests she's really amped up the damage inflicted by her tunes.
Band of Horses, Cease to Begin (Sub Pop) Ben Bridwell expresses his love for YouTube video directors on this Phil Eks–produced second LP.
Dengue Fever, Untitled (M80 Music/NAIL/Allegro) On recordings, they're sometimes glorious, sometimes not — will the third time be a charm for the group led by Chhom Nimol's dynamic voice?
The Fiery Furnaces, Widow City (Thrill Jockey) The prolific sibs thrust forth their sixth full-length, emboldened by engineer John McEntire of Tortoise.
The Hives, The Black and White Album (Interscope) The ebullient Swedes will be donning black after a dozen or so shows opening for Maroon 5.
Jennifer Lopez, Brave (Epic) Are listeners courageous or is she?
Robert Pollard, Coast to Coast Carpet of Love and Standard Gargoyle Decisions (Merge) Two releases in one day — guided by bipolar voices?
She Wants Revenge, This Is Forever (Geffen) Let's hope not.
Amy Winehouse, Frank (Island) Pre–US juggernaut album by the singer in rehab, for anyone who doesn't think she's overexposed or wouldn't rather look at Ronnie Spector and listen to Ruth Brown.
Nicole Scherzinger, Her Name Is Nicole ...(Interscope) ...and she's the Pussycat Doll whom you can tell apart from the other Pussycat Dolls — I think. She falls in seconds-long love at first sight with prospective members of her group during auditions, if the trashiest TV show in recent memory is to be believed.
Ashanti, The Declaration (The Inc.) I'll flabbergast many by saying that Ashanti has served up more quality hit singles than the other R&B diva releasing an album this week.
Alicia Keys, As I Am (J) She can sing, she can play, she can sell Proactiv Solution like few others. But will she ever truly let that voice loose?
Backstreet Boys, Unbreakable (Jive) Do we really want it that way again? Can they give it to us that way? One thing's for sure — this should give Chelsea Handler months of comedy material.
Chris Brown, Exclusive (Jive) Yeah, he's cuter than kitten posters. But his appearance in a tribute to the Godfather of Soul at last year's Grammy Awards verged on sacrilege.
Wu-Tang Clan, The 8 Diagrams (Street Recordings) Their first album in six years — thus their first post-ODB recording — takes its title from the Shaw brothers' film Eight Diagram Pole Fighter; in tune with the George Harrison revival, it includes a cover of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."
Six Organs of Admittance, Shelter from the Ash (Drag City) The Redwood Curtain's guitar-wielding heir to John Fahey breaks out a new LP, said to be smokin'.<\!s>*