LUCINDA WILLIAMS
Little Honey (Lost Highway) Here, Williams's voice, as cracked and worn as Grandpa's wallet, finds its perfect pairing with bluesy rock. She's a honky-tonk woman co-opting Jagger's swagger on "Honey Bee"; both author and lead subject in the poetic "Knowing." No one choreographs the messy dance of romance better. Download Now: "Tears of Joy"

SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS
Alpinisms (Ghostly International) This debut album is the audio equivalent of lying in a tub of cotton balls--warm, engulfing, a little ticklish. With electronic beats coursing beneath Balkan melodies, it's a folk-urban sound you've never heard before. Go ahead, soak in the soft fuzz. Download Now: "Half Asleep"

THE MIGHTY UNDERDOGS
Droppin' Science Fiction (Def Jux) With an all-star collaboration of rappers, this CD is giddy with its own out-there ideas and rhymes about everything from anime monsters on holiday ("Ill Vacation") to a high-noon fantasy ("Gun Fight"). Backing music veers from hard rock to soul to samba, so buckle up for a loopy ride. Download Now: "Escape"

Q-TIP
The Renaissance (Universal Motown) Q-Tip almost sounds nostalgic for old-school rhymes, in tracks that end with hard DJ scratching. But he also delivers a sexy edge on "I Believe," backed by D'Angelo, who ladles on the romance. In bling-blind hip-hop, Q-Tip's heart is what makes him subversive again. Download Now: "Gettin' Up"

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