AirpushersThemes For the Ordinarily Strange(Sarathan)
Everything I like about the Black Eyed Peas in spite of myself—the ’70s-lovin' funk, the goofiness—found its spotlight on this one. Two of the supergroup's musicians, Printz Board and Tim Izo Orindgreff, made their way to the studio without the company of Fergie or will.i.am or any of their Grammy-winning compatriots. They emerged with a grab bag of samples and hooky goodness that's surprising and infectious, like the plague, like ... the Peas. This disc grew on me like a virus, gradually conquering all of my snobbier music cells.
Pigeon JohnAnd The Summertime Pool Party(Quannum)
Days ago, I would have gladly carried the casket of hip-hop skits. They’re not funny more than once, and I suspect I'm not the only listener who finds her index finger wandering toward the skip button when it's clear some artist got high in the studio and decided to try his or her hand at comedy. Pigeon John's are funny. Really. Self-deprecating, smart and restrained—like his album, actually—he delivers. Solid, though maybe not mind-blowing, Pigeon's got some kind of love for telling a story flush with all the bizarre details of real life.
Dead MoonEchoes of The Past(Sub Pop)
These guys are prolific, as is their "best of" collection--26 songs on the first disc, 23 on the second. All are lo-fi, straightforward hometown rock. Whose hometown? They're from Portland, Ore., but they really could be anywhere in the U.S. and seem like they belong there. Maybe it's the stoneheaded commitment to their sound, a stripped-down mishmash of garage, punk and country. Dead Moon rose in 1987 and spent its career on independent label Tombstone Records, gaining hero status in the underground. The players are in their 50s, all grit and gristle and still touring. You've got to respect that.