Sonic Youth: The Eternal (Matador)
Sonic Youth took some sharp turns on the way to the release of their latest record. For one, Kim Gordon doesn't sound like a mermaid. The concise, vocals-heavy art-pop-rock direction suggested on Rather Ripped was the force of that album, not the seminal band's new incarnation. Sonic Youth shook Geffen and its trappings and ran to indie darling Matador for their latest effort. The Eternal is also the first Sonic Youth recording made with Pavement's Mark Ibold on bass. It's not without sunny singalongs, even "la la las" on "Leaky Lifeboat." But the new-old approach conjures images of Kim and Thurston during their Gilmore Girls cameo, playing on the grass in the center of Stars Hollow with all the harried feedback and fuzz -- still guest stars on a CW TV show, but truly themselves. The whole composition is streaming at the band's Web site through June 15.
Mos Def: The Ecstatic (Downtown)
The fourth solo album from that rapper you met on Broadway boasts a spate of producer heavyweights with Madlib, Chad Hugo of the Neptunes and the late J Dilla at the boards. Slick Rick and Talib Kweli showed up, too, and the result is a Mos Def record Spin says is "easily his finest full-length since his 1999 solo debut." Who emerges from a three-year hip-hop hiatus and promptly rocks the timpani drums on the Late Show? Just Mos Def. See the video below.