Album: Modern Guilt (DGC)
In stores: Now
Why we care: The psychedelic dream team of Beck Hansen and producer Danger Mouse whip up a beach-blanket apocalypse that's fun and frightening. Not unlike the vibe given off by DM's day job with Gnarls Barkley, this a funky chronicling of angst in the year 2008. Duck, cover and . . . dance!
Why we like it: "Think I'm stranded but I don't know where . . ." "So many people, they've already drowned . . ." "You got warheads stacked in the kitchen . . ." Beck's lyrical distress is buoyed by DM's surf-boogie beats, found FX and trip-hop whir. The duo lose their way at times, settling for sounds instead of songs, but for the most part, they kill.
Reminds us of: A clambake of the damned
Download these: Gamma Ray and Youthless
Album: Triumph: Expanded Edition (Epic/Legacy)
In stores: Sept. 2
Why we care: Epic/Legacy is sprucing up its MJ songbook, including this artifact from 1980, a Jackson brothers album that came between Off the Wall and Thriller. Includes bonus tracks.
Why we like it: You'd think the future King of Pop would have been too focused on his solo stylings to show much enthusiasm with his sibs. But his songwriting and vocals, while not as nuanced as they'd get, are surprisingly strong and funky, further boogieable proof that Mike was a creative monster way back when.
Reminds us of: It's shocking how today's pop producers bite from the Jackson songbook. I won't name names. I'll just tie up my Timberlands and keep my mouth closed.
Download this: Can You Feel It
Album: Love Is Dead (Island)
In stores: Now
Why we care: This 21-year-old Estonian is being described as "Bjork meets Evanescence," which sounds really horrible. Let's say she's more like '80s optimism meets '00s doom, which sounds much better. The wide-eyed blond looks (and sings) like Tim Burton's idea of a dream date. Cute, funny . . . and sexy in a Corpse Bride sorta way.
Why we like it: Kerli's operatic vocals are indeed Bjorkian, but the production is what turns your head. Her turbo-charged rock mixes squirmy, wormy beats, big synthy gusts and Kerli's overactive but kinda cool vocal.
Reminds us of: I'll bet you $10 you can't find Estonia on a map. You have two minutes.
Download these: Love Is Dead and Walking on Air
SONG OF THE WEEK
Ana Serrano van der Laan
In stores: iTunes
Why we care: We're totally infatuated with iTunes' free singles of the week. But a lot of times we download those suckers and instantly forget about them — until we're on a long, lonely plane trip and an undiscovered gem pops up like magic. That's the case with this odd samba from the Madrid-born, Stockholm-raised Ana Laan. "Make it last, there's no need to go fast, just lay your hands on me . . ."
Why we like it: Like the rambunctious lovechild of Burt Bacharach and Brasil '66, this song is all island guitar plucks, lyrical whimsy and the kind of drum-machine beat you'd hear from a cheap-o band at a hotel pool. Laan sells the sexy with a sleepy, flirty delivery.
Reminds us of: You will curse my name to heavens when this aural earworm gets stuck in your head for days. Bop-bop-ba!