Dinosaur Jr.
Beyond
Fat Possum Records
Like with any good band, the history of Dinosaur Jr. is permeated with drama. J Mascis started the band in 1983 with his former high school classmate Lou Barlow, and when aggression boiled over between the two around ’89, Mascis told Barlow the band was “done.” He then mysteriously reformed said band without Barlow the very next day. Yeah, awkward. Barlow went on to form Sebadoh and make several albums full of emotional songs targeting Mascis, while Mascis took Dino J. to major-label and semi-alterna-glory status.
However, it’s the energy of Mascis and Barlow together that still has most Dinosaur Jr. fans reeling, and that’s the key to Beyond-it’s the original lineup, complete with J’s splintering guitar work and slabs of feedback, Lou’s low-pitched sludge, and Murph’s sweet snare magic. It’ll fire you up with blasts of noise and catch you vulnerable with something pretty. It’s got what all that golden stuff from early Dinosaur Jr. had … a little something extraordinary.-Jennifer Sherowski

Placebo
Covers
Hut Recordings
I’ll be honest-Placebo as a band doesn’t really matter to me. But an album of righteous covers that, because of Brian Molko’s eerie, androgynous voice, sound both familiar and otherworldly, well, that’s another story entirely. Frank Black’s transcendent yelps are rendered more haunting by Molko on the old Pixies’ tune “Where Is My Mind?” Placebo’s version of Sinead O’Connor’s ultra-dark “Jackie” sounds like the wind whipping the salty sea rocks. And T. Rex’s “20th Century Boy” crackles with bolts of electricity.
Covers is a bonus CD sold along with a re-release of Placebo’s 2003 album Sleeping With Ghosts, but because of the success of “Running Up That Hill” (a Kate Bush cover) after it was featured on The O.C., the band made Covers available as an exclusive iTunes download-yay!-J.S.

Scroobius Pip vs. Dan Le Sac
“Thou Shalt Always Kill”
Lex Records
For a country smaller than New York State, the U.K. spawns a truly freakish number of influential scenes, sounds, bands, and trends. Some of them-Merseybeat, punk, goth-still influence Western pop music today. But for every scene that scores, literally thousands fall by the wayside, never making it across the Atlantic. Often it’s because the bands just aren’t very good. Other times the thing itself is, well, just too British.
Time will tell which category Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip’s single “Thou Shalt Always Kill” ends up in. But on the “How To Be A Modern Music Phenomenon” checklist, this track ticks every box and is set to be one of the defining underground tracks of 2007. Basically, it’s a grimy, edgy take on LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” based around a list of surreal commandments aggressively outlined by bearded street poet Scroobius Pip over Dan Le Sac’s lo-fi electro. Some lyrics might make absolutely no sense to listeners not born in Britain, epitomized by the chorus “Radiohead? Just a band. The Beatles? Just a band. Arctic Monkeys? Just a band,” which puts today’s sacred British musical cows firmly in their place. Yes, it’s an in-joke-but a savagely listenable one. Check it out at: myspace.com/lesacvspip.-Matt Barr

The Collection
Justin Bennee’s “Ten Songs For Your Mom” Playlist
1. Isaac Hayes, “Hyperbolicsyllablecsesquedalymistic”
2. Prodigy, “Bang On ‘Em”
3. Kool G Rap, “Let The Games Begin”
4. Jay-Z, “Intro/A Million And One Questions/Rhyme No More”
5. Too $hort, “That’s Why”
6. Big L, “Games Females Play”
7. James Brown, “The Payback”
8. The Ohio Players, “Ecstasy”
9. Led Zeppelin, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”
10. NWA, “Always Into Somethin’”