Your monthly CD crib sheet...Take that, music snobs!
CONOR OBERST Conor Oberst (Merge)
Whether fronting indie bands like Bright Eyes or going solo, singer-songwriter Oberst seduces with sincerity. Here, he saws away on guitar and matches his reedy voice with sunbaked country rock in songs sturdy enough to hold all that urgency. If that sounds sexy, Oberst is your new Clooney. Download Now: "Moab"
KID SISTER [Untitled at press time] (Downtown Recordings)
She's the Chicago rapper whose sass charmed even hometown kingpin Kanye West. Her song "Pro Nails" is buoyed by hand-claps and a catchy vocal hook; West appears on the remix here. Kid Sister is making hip-hop and two-inch acrylics look fresh again. Download Now: "Switchboard"
CSS Donkey (Sub Pop)
Burpy synths and spiky guitars—CSS's ingredients are right out of the new-wave home-brew kit. But this Brazilian quintet is one big dance-floor flirt, beckoning you with punchy grooves. Bop to the '80s-throwback pop, or give in to "Let's Reggae All Night"'s tipsy siren song: "If you are my friend, we could drink in the afternoon." Download Now: "Left Behind"
JULIANA HATFIELD How to Walk Away (Ye Olde Records)
Hatfield's achy pop once lent late-teen laments a poignancy beyond dorm-room bathos; now she gives a youthful blush to romantic resignation. These are songs that understand heartache: Relationships end, but they don't end you. Download Now: "Shining On"