Adrian Belew Side One (Sanctuary)
Kentucky-born guitarist Adrian Belew has played with just about every progressive and avant garde rock troupe that's mattered—Zappa, middle-era Bowie, King Crimson, Projekt, Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club and so on—while releasing a steady stream of solo albums, and lending his guitar work to various projects floating just under mainstream radar. Frankly, he's made some pretty annoying music along the way. But Side One, rumored to be the first part of a trilogy, is among the least grating of his solo works. It's still pretty out there, as expected, but it's of keen interest once past the bravado.
Marbles Expo (spinART)
Apples in Stereo masterbrain Robert Schneider began the solo project known as Marbles in 1992, just before forming the Apples, and recorded a few lighthearted sides that were eventually released without much fanfare in 1997. After launching Apples into the indie-pop stratosphere, Schneider pushed forward with the stripped-down Ulysses project, made music for commercials and eventually came full-circle, recording Expo as Marbles late last year. Intent on making a record that sounded like “a cross between ELO and Gary Numan,” Schneider has largely succeeded. There's plenty of Pet Sounds here, too, and a healthy dose of Schneider's own melodic mastery.
Greenskeepers Pleetch (Om Records)
“It runs the lotion on its skin/Or else it gets the hose again/Else it get the hose, Precious.” Not exactly a tender lyric, but in the hands of Greenskeepers, perhaps house music's freshest breath of air in the past five years, it almost comes off like a sweet nothing. Fronted by DJ James Curd, multi-instrumentalist Nick Maurer and producer/musician Mark Share, the trio—a quartet live—bathe Talking Heads-like melodies in smooth, deep grooves that harden like amber atop sinewy loops and ultra-clever samples. Dance-floor ready and chock full of funk-drenched singles.