Album: Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Rare and Unreleased (Columbia)
In stores: Now
Why we care: Between '89 and '06, Bob Dylan grew a pivotal Vincent Price mustache, all pencil-thin and Mr. Mysterioso. The 'stache represented his comeback role as weary roadside mystic, as insightful about the world's end as his own. His songs were dark Daniel Lanois-helmed laments mixing surreal and blood simple. Here are the raw shards from those sessions.
Why we like it: Dignity, once a gospel triumph, is now bitter, enraged. Someday Baby, once so rollicking, is now militaristic, defiant. Behold, Bob fans, the cold, hard truth. Or is it?
Reminds us of: "Things should start to get interesting right about now . . ."
Download these: Red River Shore, Mississippi
Album: Doll Domination (Interscope)
In stores: Now
Why we care: Everything that's wrong with the current pop-music landscape can be found on this sleezy, greezy second disc from the L.A. burlesque-show-turned-pop-group. PCD is a half-nekkid quintet in which only one member can actually sing. The songs are soulless, corporately crafted soft-core anthems. Guest stars (R. Kelly, Snoop Dogg) provide nothing but bold-faced hype. There's no link to the wink-wink charm of the group's origins. So why am I suggesting it?
Why we like it: Because pretty people in Las Vegas — or, at the very least, strippers — need something fun to grind to. Hey, I'm a populist.
Reminds us of: The so-low, bass-bump of Bottle Pop is filthy but irresistible.
Download this: Bottle Pop
Album: Kellie Pickler (Sony BMG)
In stores: Now
Why we care: It used to be so fun mocking Kellie "Huckleberry Blond" Pickler, the dizzied American Idol minx from a couple seasons back. From her law-averse dad to her dunderheaded understanding of sushi, she was ripe for ridicule. And yet, lookee here, boobirds: Pickler is on her second major-label album, a followup to her platinum debut. And you know what? For slick pop country, these disposables are dang tasty.
Why we like it: There's too much helium in Pickler's vocal, and she ups the twang to Ellie Mae levels. But her candy-coated songs (several she co-writes) are instantly in-your-head.
Reminds us of: Her liner-note snaps could give the Pussycat Dolls a run for their honey. Oh my.
Download this: Rocks Instead of Rice
SONG OF THE WEEK
Jack White & Alicia Keys
Song: Another Way to Die
In stores: iTunes
Why we care: Jack White would make a great Bond villain — or at least a great Bond henchman: unpredictable, pasty, comic in a bwah-ha-ha! sort of way. Alicia Keys, on the other hand, would make a great Bond girl: secretive, seductive, built to kill, built to thrill. So it makes sense that the rocker and the R&B bombshell would team up for the title duet to new Bond movie Quantum of Solace, due in theaters Nov. 14.
Why we like it: There's a lot going on here — guitar shreds, piano twinkles, the Memphis Horns — all in lieu of an obvious hook. It's not exactly catchy, but there's delish drama in hearing White and Keys' snarly cat-and-mouse vocals. It's a mess, but it sure isn't dull.
Reminds us of: Best Bond song ever? Live and Let Die. Second best? Nobody Does It Better.