Album: Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino)
In stores: Now
Why we care: Merriweather Post Pavilion is the Frank Gehry-designed concert venue in Columbia, Md., the infamously planned community outside of Baltimore. Merriweather Post Pavilion is the third album from Maryland's Animal Collective, three (sometimes more) creative nebbishes who use spinning soundscapes to break free from their suburban basement.
Why we like it: Cross Radiohead, the psychedelic sunshine trippery of Brian Wilson and a bank of Vegas slot machines and the pleasingly abstract result is Animal Collective, which features such playfully named dudes as Panda Bear and Avey Tare.
Reminds us of: Pink Floyd with a tan
Download this: My Girls
Grade: A- (but for adventurers only)
Album: Junior (EMI)
In stores: Now
Why we care: I get a lot of chatty visitors at Listen to This headquarters. But if I ever want some Chatty Cathy (or Kyle) to flee instantly, all I have to utter is "Norwegian electronica," and that pretty much clears the decks. (Fun fact: This also works on telemarketers!) The reality is that the Norwegian electronicists in Royksopp — that would be the team of Torbjorn Brundtland and Svein Berge — are totally accessible and good, ear-candy fun.
Why we like it: Guest vocalists Robyn and Lykke Li ground the happy, slappy synth loops in more earthbound shades of boogie. Drop this one at a party, and you'll get serious hipster points — plus you'll get everybody dancing!
Reminds us of: Kraftwerk at a kegger
Download this: The Girl and the Robot
Album: Potato Hole (Anti-)
In stores: April 21
Why we care: The king of the Stax sound, Booker T. no longer has the trusty MGs by his side. (Hold the Green Onions.) But the soul legend and organ maestro still keeps good company. His backing band is Southern combo the Drive-by Truckers. And whereas the MGs featured the guitar punch of the great Steve Cropper, Booker T. goes out and finds a pretty good shredder to replace him: Neil Young, who keeps his mouth shut and uncorks skittery solo after solo.
Why we like it: While the Truckers and Young give this instrumental gem rockin' edge, Booker T. still bleeds that Memphis Sound, and man, can he make those keys talk up a storm.
Reminds us of: Gus's Fried Chicken, Memphis
Download this: Native New Yorker
SONG OF THE WEEK
Song: The Climb
Album: Hannah Montana: The Movie (Walt Disney)
In stores: Now
Why we care: It's like the Stockholm syndrome. Or, perhaps, the Montana syndrome. As a daddy to two daughters, I'm at the mercy of their tot tunage. And seeing as how Miley Cyrus is constantly rocking the Mazda, well, sometimes a 39-year-old captive finds himself singing along. Miley's new single is The Climb, from Hannah Montana: The Movie. And after 300 listens, I'm totally digging it.
Why we like it: Not buying the Stockholm bit? Okay, try this: The midtempo Climb would have made a great hair-metal ballad. The lyrics are cornball, the slow-building vocals are overwrought and the guitar solo is pure Velveeta.
Reminds us of: Don't buy that? Uh, try this . . .