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1 = Skip it
5 = Try it
10 = Buy it
Mike the Lawyer, 31
Saw the Monkees at age 8, amid a crowd of drunk middle-aged women. In college, got his nose bloodied for arguing that Pet Sounds was the best album ever. Last played on his iPod: “Memphis Flu,” by Elder Curry, but “nobody wants to hear that pretentious answer.” James the Literary Agent, 60
Grew up listening to a mix of movie scores, Johnnie Ray, Tex-Mex and mariachi music, and early rock like Buddy Holly. Lives in the West Village; when not listening to music, does collage work and model railroading. Nicole the Public School Teacher, 30
Listens to classic and indie rock. Recently saw Matt Pond PA at Bowery Ballroom. Favorite album: Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Stadium Arcadium. First one bought: Paula Abdul’ s Forever Your Girl, on cassette (“I was 8—don’ t judge”).

Sheryl Crow100 Miles From Memphis The latest from the queen of crossover country features an unusual assortment of guests: Keith Richards, Justin Timberlake, and Citizen Cope. The definition of middle-of-the-road. “Eye to Eye” may be the single worst lyric of all time: “Some lessons they don’ t ever learn / To keep your enemies close / The other cheek soon will turn / If we don’ t see eye to eye / It doesn’ t mean that we can’ t try … to get along”: How many clichés can be strung together in one song? Sheryl’ s answer: four. Rating: 3Best track:
“I Want You Back”
Sheryl Crow just seems to calm everyone down. The whole country-pop vibe is a little lame—it’ s not my listening taste—but the record didn’ t annoy me or cause me to keep switching tracks. I’d recommend it to single moms looking for stability, or single women who want to justify their current statuses.Rating: 4.5Best track:
“Eye To Eye”
I like this album. It’ s soulful, with a lot of distinct sounds happening: Some songs are slow and sultry while others have more of a pop-reggae thing going on, and there are some great duets and background vocals. The record made me feel introspective and positive about life. perfect while riding the slow crosstown bus. Rating: 9Best track:

Big BoiSir Lucious Left Foot … Tee son of Chico Dusty The long-awaited album from the dude in OutKast who’ s not Andre 3000. Big Boi recruited everyone from Jamie Foxx to Janelle Monáe to Gucci Mane for his first real solo project. Big Boi is probably the best M.C. in the game—his flow stutters and bends the rules of syntax to his will, and his voice can do anything. I blared this while driving until I got embarrassed to be the white guy blasting hip-hop. Then I decided, Fuck it, I want the windows down and the music loud. For a self-conscious person, that requires a really great album.Rating: 9Best track:
“Shine Blockas”
A brilliant album with a definite southern swagger. “Tangerine” has a great guitar riff and poignant verses—it’ s a real I-want-to-hear-it-again type of song. The whole album gets you up on your feet. It doesn’ t have clear- cut singles like Speakerboxxx, but if you’ re ready for more toned-down Big Boi, you’ ll be into it. you could listen to this while hosting a small, intimate party.Rating: 9Best track:
Not really my type of album, though a couple of songs might make it into my itunes playlist. I might listen to it at the gym, while running, or doing something else that requires a lot of energy. And I know that if I heard some of these songs in a club, it would put me in a good mood, ready to dance, because the melodies and beats are great. But the lyrics are just too explicit for me (I’m a teacher!).Rating: 5Best track:
“Hustle Blood”

The Ready SetI’ m alive, i’ m DreamingDebut record by Jordan Witzigreuter, a 20-year-old Indianan who spent his adolescence writing songs in his parents’ basement and posting them online until Pete Wentz noticed them. Music snobs are preprogrammed to spit venom at this stuff, and i don’ t like it, but there are a lot of young kids that will love it, and they should. “Love Like Woe” is one catchy song. It will be huge with teenage girls who wear those sweatpants with things written across the butt. Rating: 4Best track:
“Love Like Woe”
This album should be played while celebrating someone’ s birthday at Pizzeria Uno or Chuck E. Cheese’s—but the volume should be kept at a minimum so that very few people can actually hear it. It’ s music for bored 12-year-old girls in the suburbs waiting to grow up and do something besides playing with their phones. they ought to market it along with shampoo and Diet pepsi.Rating: 1.5Best track:
It’ s upbeat and fun, and it has a really interesting sound—a mix of pop, electronic, and teenybopper, if that’ s even a category. The “More Than Alive” chorus is so cheesy i can’ t get it out of my head. I listened to this while getting ready to go out, but it’ s also a happy summer album. It made me feel like I was 20 again.Rating: 8Best track:
“More Than Alive”

Danger Mouse & SparklehorseDark Night of the SoulThe last release by the late Mark Linkous (a.k.a. Sparklehorse), in collaboration with Danger Mouse. A photo booklet by David Lynch, who sings on two tracks, is meant to match the music’ s mood. A beautifully produced, beautiful- sounding, insanely boring album. Even the tracks with fuzzed-out guitars (“Little Girl,” “Pain”) are locked in a mid-tempo malaise. I do like the David Lynch tracks (like “Star Eyes”)—they capture a mood. The rest could be background music at a Starbucks. It’ d be good pre-surgery, in lieu of general anesthesia. Rating: 5Best track:
“Insane Lullaby”
Unique instrumentation and production make this a really special album; they’ ve found a new and powerful sound. I listened to it while cleaning my apartment before going out, and it put me in a spaced-out mood. It’ s the type of music that makes you daydream and has the potential to affect your emotions—prepare yourself before listening.Rating: 7Best track:
“Insane Lullaby”
Ehhh, not my style—too abrasive, too harrowing. The whole thing reminded me of high school, that mix of discontentedness and wanting to be somewhere else all the time. I don’ t really want to think like that anymore. might be the album for you if you’ re going through a funky sullen phase.Rating: 5Best track:
“Little Girl”

Francis and the LightsIt’ll Be BetterAnother band formed at Wesleyan University. Kanye West was an early fan. Front man Francis Farewell Starlite claims Strunk & White’ s Elements of Style as a primary influence. I respect this artist. But the problem is that you can hear every word, and the lyrics aren’ t good. I’ ve heard Francis compared to Prince, but I get Phil Collins/Peter Gabriel. When he goes for I’m-a-funky-white-guy moments, that’ s when he really bombs. I’ ll admit that I found myself humming a lot of the songs and listening to this album more than the rest (aside from Big Boi’s). But just go get No Jacket Required—it’ s better. Rating: 7Best track:
“Tap The Phone”
It put me in a let’ s-go-out-and-have-frozen-yogurt-and-figure-out-what- we-are-going-to-do-tonight mood. “In a Limousine” has a very groovy melody, but the whole album feels totally familiar with few surprises. A step above elevator music. Rating: 5Best track:
“In a Limousine”
Everyone should buy this. The lead singer has an awesome voice—I can’ t wait to see them live! Really soothing, and it calmed me down through the gross heat wave.Rating: 9Best track:
“For Days”

Compiled by Lizzy Goodman. Illustrations by Andy Friedman.