J Dilla | Donuts
His first solo project since hooking up with Stones Throw, Donuts finds J Dilla (aka Jay Dee) in schizophrenic loop fiend mode, serving up 31 flavors draped in raw funk and earthy soul. Originally created as a beat tape, the album switches gears fast and furiously, but never loses sight of the bumping sound that's made him one of the most sweated producers in hip-hop. - B.Winning
(Donuts is an Exclusive Premiere, only on Rhapsody this week, album drops everywhere else on 2/7!)

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Pest | All Out Fall Out: Check out this Ninja Tune release from the "Future Funk" outfit Pest. This super funky album has just the right electro-tinged overtones to claim freshness without being over produced. No glithcy laptronica that will have you reaching for the fast forward button. Dig it. ~MY

One Track Recommendation: "Click Bitches"

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Okkervil River | Black Sheep Boy
I realize every hipster on the block was into this record last year (yes, I remember you telling me about this record last July in Chicago, McD) and the ultracool were into Okkervil River in 2002, but you know, everyone goes at their own pace. Especially when it comes to whiny indie rock about failed relationships. Call it what you will, heartbreaking, emotional, intense, whatever- this record is fantastic and has grown on me the last six months, since I heard them on Sammy's Nu2U compilation. Will Sheff's voice could be one of those 'love it or hate it' kind of things, and no one's going to care if you think the album is crap. If you connect at all, give it five listens, there is meaning deeper than what's on the surface. Also worth noting that Rhapsody is now streaming the Black Sheep Boy Appendix with seven more songs in the same vein. - TK
One Track Recommendation: "So Come Back, I Am Waiting"

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Pelican | Australasia
Pelican make music that's like something coming toward you out of the fog. Something big and slow. The best song on the band's second record is "Drought," which grooves on a thrumming metal riff with down-tuned guitars perfectly panned and a break they could have used for "Captain Kirk fist fight music" on the old, old Star Trek TV show. - M.McG

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The Mother Hips | Red Tandy (EP)
After what seemed like farewell four years ago, singer/guitarist Greg Loiacono returns after a breather. Still gloriously stuck on the West Coast in the corduroy-clad '60s, the Hips' buzzing psychedelic country rock and perfectly pitched harmonies are finally back in alignment. - Michele K-Tel
Also worth noting: The Mother Hips Later Days is now on Rhapsody, thanks 2 IODA.

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Kelley Stoltz | Sun Comes Through, The
Every song on Mr. Stoltz's five track debut Sub Pop EP is excellent. I think we would all rather artists put out a quality 5 track EP instead of adding subpar tracks just to fill out a full length. The themes on Sun Comes Through are so post-Beatle, it's like unearthing Lennon's basement tapes from the Dakota on a particularly lucid afternoon. The scales of "You're Out of This World," the tremoloed guitars of "Where You're Going," the psychedelic piano of "Away With The Swans" revisit strawberry fields floating by on an Amsterdam canal. And then the sun comes through the window and it's all right... - TK

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Lou Rawls | RIP: A to Z Playlist
Lou Rawls passed on from this world late last week. If you are not familiar with his velvety baritone, one that Frank Sinatra described as "having the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the game" then check out this playlist made by Wayne, which chronicles so many of his great tunes, in alphabetical order from A ("A Little Les Of Lou's Blues")to Y ("You've Made Me So Very Happy," you probably know the Blood, Sweat and Tears version). Rawls sang everything from gospel to jazz to blues to soul to pop, and had released 70 albums and won three grammys, and had 13 grammy nominations and a bunch of gold albums at the time of his death. You'll Never Find Another Love Like Lou's. -TK (playlist by WLG)

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The Strokes | First Impressions Of Earth
The Strokes sound less angular yet tighter and fuller on this new release, the first notable release of 2006. Julian Casablancas' voice is still delightfully disheveled, but his lyrics are more self-reflective and dare we say more mature? It's easy to hate The Strokes, they are the pretty boy NY hipsters that I don't miss since I've moved west, but this album is actually good, much better than Room on Fire. Shea says the contagious chorus melody in "Razorblade" bites Barry Manilow's "Mandy" (no joke), while "Vision of Division" boasts a Brahman-influenced guitar solo -- and are those electric, backwards cellos on "Ask Me Anything"? Some great sugar-coated hooks here, worth a spin or two. - ES/GH/TK

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The Cavernous Sounds of David Axelrod
In the 1970's, producer/arranger David Axelrod combined earthy hard bop and gritty R&B with a cavernous studio sound, sweeps of classical strings, and acid rock guitars. A critic dubbed it Fusion. Here are 15 examples of his work, which is much sampled by today's electronica and hip-hop producers. - Nick D.

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