Album: Death Magnetic (Warner Bros.)
In stores: Now
Why we care: Metallica isn't breaking new ground on its 10th album. But the L.A. quartet is still trying to break your face. And I appreciate that.
Why we like it: Producer Rick Rubin guts nuance in favor of Uzi-spray riffs and bludgeoning thunder. James Hetfield has lost style points delivering his bedtime stories of the damned, but Lars Ulrich provides enough neck-snapping time changes to make you forget these gladiators are getting old. The lyrics play like Metallica Mad Libs: "Sleep and dream of this / Death Angel's kiss." In the end, though, there are worse ways to bang your head.
Reminds us of: Rorschach would have a field day with that cover art. Sheesh.
Download this: Broken, Beat & Scarred
Album: The Way I See It (Columbia)
In stores: Now
Why we care: The suave leader of '90s new jack collective Tony! Toni! Tone! (remember If I Had No Loot?), Saadiq has been penning and producing for such R&B acts as D'Angelo and Joss Stone. But his return to the mike is inspired indeed, as the singer, in the guise of Marvin Gaye's ghost (or at least the best Temptations tribute you've ever heard), throws props to Hitsville USA.
Why we like it: Saadiq dislikes the word "retro," but there's an undeniable vintage feel to these Motown whispers. This is a bold vision, but Saadiq ain't too proud to beg for help from such stars as Stevie Wonder and Jay-Z.
Reminds us of: "I know you wanna leave me / But I refuse to let you go . . ."
Download this: Sure Hope You Mean It
Album: Skeletal Lamping (Polyvinyl)
In stores: Oct. 21
Why we care: I spent nine years working at an alt-weekly, and just about every band we reviewed sounded like of Montreal (yes, they insist the "o" be lowercase, because that's what bands like of Montreal insist on). The Athens, Ga., crew is smart but flighty, twee but randy, indie but danceably populist. You and you will probably hate them. But you, in the chunky specs? You'll love 'em.
Why we like it: Kevin Barnes, the sextet's tweaky brain trust, gets off on revealing startlingly specific fantasies meant to shock as much as delight. But he's not without his poppier influences, all at once making his music sound like the Cars, Queen and Prince.
Reminds us of: Red Room Bar, Black Cat, D.C.
Download this: Women's Studies Victims
SONG OF THE WEEK
The Chemical Brothers
Song: Let Forever Be
Album: Brotherhood (Virgin)
In stores: Now
Why we care: Along with fellow Brit Fat Boy Slim and smooth-pated statesider Moby, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, a.k.a. the Chemical Brothers, were leaders of the '90s electronica movement, a noisy dun!dun!dun! brigade that offered just enough hooks to make the pop charts. On this 15-track singles collection, the U.K. duo bust out their friendliest bleeps, bloops and squawks, including this 1999 duet with Oasis' Noel Gallagher.
Why we like it: The warmth of Gallagher's Beatles obsession blends well with the Chem Bros' trippy muezzin call, a perfect blend of existential hogwash and booty-bumpin' beats.
Reminds us of: Brotherhood also includes a bonus CD, Electronic Battle Weapons 1-10, that is as hard-core as it sounds. Got pacifier?