Albert Hammond, Jr.
C'mo te Llama?
RCA (Release date: July 8)
Sounds like: Hammond finds solo groove
Short take: The best Strokes album yet
Three albums into The Strokes' career, the biggest knock on the garage rock act has been its lack of maturation. However, this is not the case with the side career of Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. On his sophomore solo effort, C'mo te Llama?, he shows remarkable growth in both songwriting and musicality. Sure, the guitar leads are sharper and more blues-based ("Bargain of the Century" and "In My Room"), but the real story is the lack of jangly, one-dimensional, up-tempo songs, which have plagued his day-job band for years. Not only does the new 13-track album offer tender moments with "Lisa" and "Spooky Couch" (on which Sean Lennon makes a guest appearance), but there's a legitimate shot at a rock radio hit with "The Boss Americana." Bueno, Mr. Hammond. Bueno. John Benson
Feed the Animals
Sounds like: A sample-happy Frankenstein
Short take: Breaking rules is always fun
The hedonism of Gregg Gillis' latest musical patchwork grab bag holds little appeal to the intellect. At first listen, you're just overwhelmed by a wealth of fleetingly familiar samples. But there's lasting impact as these seconds-long clips gradually affix themselves to your mind's surface. The Girl Talk maven's label (illegalart.net) is offering this sample-strewn effort as a full download for which fans can name their own price. More tailored to fist-pumps than previous albums, its 53 minutes place Rod Stewart, Lil Wayne, Nirvana, the Velvet Underground and Soulja Boy alongside a couple hundred other unlikely partners. Assuming you're with a bunch of friends and have left your attention span at home, it's hard to imagine how music could be more entertaining. Kiernan Maletsky
Interscope (Release date: July 8)
Sounds like: Beck's world pogo party
Short take: Bounce on, young fans
It appears Danger Mouse likes to show up when he damn well pleases. After turning in a barely-there effort on the Black Keys album earlier this year, the producer has taken Beck's organic folk-funk and given it the psychedelic-inspired echo and bounce we all knew he could. Man, is it fun. The title track sounds like David Bowie if he were to dare write a British Invasion hit. Though somewhat more ambient, "Chemtrails" has a bobbing bass line that smacks of trip-hop's heyday. Beck phones it in on "Orphans," a direct descendant of "Devil's Haircut," but is revived by "Gamma Ray," the pop-guitar-driven first single that sounds like a Sleater-Kinney or Le Tigre dance departure. With the same lyrical wit and bite typical of recent Beck releases, this album is no guilt and all pleasure. Jason Notte