The Elected Sun, Sun, Sun (Sub Pop)
On their second album, lap steel, banjo, harmonica and accordion lend The Elected (which is masterminded by Rilo Kiley's Blake Sennett) a hand in an effort to make some incredibly twangy '70s-feeling love songs. Unless alt.country is your one-and-only, I wouldn't recommend this entire album, but try, especially if you're going on a road trip, to get your hands on track No. 2, "Would You Come with Me," which saves Sun, Sun, Sun from the verge of mediocrity.
Tortoise/Bonnie 'Prince' Billy The Brave and The Bold (Overcoat Recordings)
The hypnotic Tortoise and ramshackle-voiced Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (Will Oldham) provide an excellent example of how covers should be done. They vary from Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road" to Devo's "That's Pep!" to Richard Thompson's "Calvary Cross" to the incredible version of Lungfish's "Love Is Love," which now sounds sort like a song by The Jesus and Mary Chain. Admittedly, after an entire weekend of The Brave and The Bold, some of the songs did wear out, but all in all, this is a very healthy choice if you're in the market or mood for reinterpretations of old songs.
Various Artists Run the Road Volume 2 (Vice)
Only a few years old, grime (rapid, break beat-heavy British hip-hop) feels like trying to play a video game drunk ... which makes me want to jump out of a window. Grime claims a distinct uniqueness over other hip-hop genres, but at its core is not much different from much of the newer American rap where beats are concentrated and fast, making it hard to decipher a rhythm or melody, and the main themes involve respect of some sort. No matter, it's worth listening to, if only for the cockney accents.