Album: Avengers Assemble: Music From the Motion Picture (Hollywood)
Why we care: Is it time to bid adieu to the '80s nostalgia boom and welcome back the surly, angsty, utterly forgettable '90s? The Avengers, one of the biggest movies of a superheroic summer (opens May 4), has a soundtrack stuffed with '90s acts: Soundgarden, Scott Weiland, Bush, Buckcherry. Grrr! Hulk smash grunge!
Why we like it: The '90s could have been better represented by, say, Pearl Jam and Radiohead. But at least it's not the Spice Girls and the Spin Doctors! Plus Chris Cornell can still wail, growling low and soaring high on Soundgarden's stormy, familiar Live to Rise.
Reminds us of: Where are the good 2012 rock bands? Like Foo Fighters and, um, well . . .
Download this: Bush's Into the Blue
Jack Johnson, Eddie Vedder
Album: Best of Kokua Festival: A Benefit for the Kokua Hawaii Foundation (Brushfire)
Why we care: Bikini? Check. Coppertone? Check. Sexy, mellow, fun beach playlist? C'mon, sand and surf mean zip without the proper chillout mix! This live compilation from Hawaii's own Jack Johnson and such luau buds as Eddie Vedder, Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne and Dave Matthews makes for super-cool one-and-done shopping.
Why we like it: Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley drops by to join JJ and Paula Fuga for reggae fix Welcome to Jamrock. Matthews and Tim Reynolds help their host restore bittersweet heart to Buffett's A Pirate Looks at Forty.
Reminds us of: Magnum, P.I. (and yes, Higgins really was Robin Masters)
Download this: Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain (with Willie Nelson, Jack Johnson, Ben Harper)
Album: California 37 (Columbia)
Why we care: Pat Monahan and Train have pulled a slick magic trick over the past decade or so. By remaining pleasantly milquetoast, charmingly catchy and seemingly forgettable, the San Francisco soft-rockers have managed to chart hit after hit in a sea dominated by Biebers, Rihannas and Pitbulls.
Why we like it: Current hit Drive By has the same infectious sheen as previous smash Hey, Soul Sister. Ashley Monroe, from Miranda Lambert's Pistol Annies side project, duets on the frisky, feel-good duet Bruises.
Reminds us of: You don't have to like Train, but they deserve a tip of the conductor's cap.
Download this: This'll Be My Year, which merges Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire with every chorus in the Jonas Brothers catalog. I hate myself for absolutely loving this song.
Album: Early Takes Vol. 1 (G.H. Estate)
Why we care: To be released Tuesday, in conjunction with the DVD release of Martin Scorsese documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World, this collection shows the Quiet One in stripped-down mode, especially on tracks from epic 1970 solo LP All Things Must Pass.
Why we like it: Producer Phil Spector eventually helped build All Things Must Pass with a Beatles-esque twist on his Wall of Sound. But this pleasant studio footnote reveals that iconic cuts My Sweet Lord and Behind That Locked Door started as softer, folky tracks better suited for a quiet bonfire.
Reminds us of: Seeing as how the late Harrison wrote about the spiritual side of life and loss, this LP resonates with fresh oomph.
Download this: I'd Have You Anytime