• Ramona Falls, 'Intuit' (Barsuk)

    Brent Knopf sounds very lonely on his first album as Ramona Falls. He could be homesick for Menomena, his day-job Portland, Oregon trio, but more likely he's bummed about the former flame that quits wanting him in "Clover," ignores his worldly travels in "Russia," or tries to drown him in "Salt Sack." (And you thought your ex-girlfriend sucked.) Thankfully, Knopf's unpredictable melodies and funky orchestral arrangements (played by 35 indie- rock acquaintances!) keep tracks like "I Say Fever" and "Always Right" lively, resulting in an album that leans more toward epic than emo. BUY:Amazon

  • Sholi, 'Sholi' (Quarterstick/Touch and Go)

    This California trio's debut album spools out experimental escapades with multiple sections that range all the way from the abrasive minimalism of Shellac (minus the attitude) to the ornate spookiness of Grizzly Bear (minus the doo-wop). Produced by Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier, Sholi deftly incorporates eerie groans, math-rock guitars, la-la sing-alongs, and frenetic drum lines. But in between the mania and ethereality, the music's greatest accomplishment is its only constant: simple, striking scalar melodies that, whether buried under fuzz bass or acoustic arpeggios, make each track breathtaking and keep the band's genre shifts refreshing, rather than overwhelming. BUY: Amazon

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    What? Originally slated for a June release under the title Invincible Summer, Common's eighth studio album, renamed Universal Mind Control, drops today, six months late but with no less of a feel-good summer vibe.

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    Who? For more than 20 years, Eddie Spaghetti, the Supersuckers' ass-kickin', name-takin', bass-pluckin' frontman, has produced the kind of blue chip rock'n'roll that makes dive bars so great: Loud, vice-ridden rock songs with country flavor and plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor. In other words, the soundtrack for one hell of a good time. And the band's latest album, Get It Together!, is yet another classic with skuzzy anthems ("I'm A Fucking Genius," "I Like It All, Man") and stunning four-chord rousers ("When I Go, I'm Gone"). But the surprise here? The album's ballads of love and loss are especially strong, notably "She Is Leaving" and "Breaking Honey's Heart." Who? Formed at Tucson, AZ's Santa Rita High in 1988, the Supersuckers (then known as the Black Supersuckers) quickly climbed the local club scene before deciding to try the larger pond of Seattle.

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    Alaska in Winter

    What? Not only is Alaska in Winter more deserving of the title "maverick" than its eponymous state's governor, the electronic project is also far more versed in foreign policy. Dance Party in the Balkans, the group's 2007 debut, married robotic cadence with traditional Eastern European tones, fleshed out by dramatic strings and emotive vocals from frontman/Grand Poobah Brandon Bethancourt. This month's follow-up, Holiday, takes a trip to Berlin -- and in AIW's Germany, life is a cabaret.Vocoder melodies and upbeat lyrics tell stories of high-speed boat races ("Speed Boat to Heaven"), a man who "stays awake all night to avoid the sunlight" ("Keep Your Boots Clean and Everything You Step On Is Dirt"), and hard-partiers in need of some pacing ("Korrpromenade").

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