On a fundamental level, The Detroit Cobras are just a bar band, bashing out covers of old R&B songs, but the song choices are so obscure and the performances so supercharged that the Cobras sound newly minted. Bloodshot's domestic release of Baby—the third Detroit Cobras LP, which came out earlier this year in the UK—includes the stellar 2004 EP Five Easy Pieces, which may be too much soul-steeped garage-rock to take in at once sitting. But the disc is littered with gems like the slaphappy "Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand," the brisk, disjointed "Now You're Gone," and the steamrolling "The Real Thing." It's tailor-made for people looking to enliven a mix CD…

Palm Pictures re-released Lake Trout's 2002 album Another One Lost in 2003, right around the time that SpinArt put out Apollo Sunshine's debut record Katonah. The two didn't have much in common save for a loose connection to the prog-rock tradition and a shared spirit of adventure. The bands' respective new releases, Not Them, You and Apollo Sunshine, find their two sounds converging more. Not Them, You drops the Elliott Smith/Radiohead affectations of Another One Lost and replaces them with a more forceful rock style, with melodies that shoot into the air and explode. The record peaks with "If I Can," which builds a yearning love ballad into an overpowering spiritual inquiry, scored with effective orchestral bombast. Apollo Sunshine, meanwhile, drops a lot of Katonah's indie eccentricity and focuses the band's cozy psychedelia into ropy rock songs like "The Hotter, The Wetter, The Better" and "Bed," which convert old junk into clean-burning fuel…

Jacksonville City Nights (Lost Highway), Ryan Adams' second album this year, takes its name from Adams' North Carolina hometown, and from the chorus of his ramshackle country-rock weepie "The End." Longtime fans of Adams might see the title and think of "Jacksonville Skyline," from Whiskeytown's Pneumonia—still the best record that Adams has put his name to. Compared to the simplified presentation and upfront lyrics of "Jacksonville Skyline," the teary, twangy exercises on Jacksonville City Nights sound a little mannered, not unlike Adams' recent tour through early-'80s rock. Still, the record is skillfully played and highly listenable, with a few drop-dead gorgeous tracks, like the Norah Jones collaboration "Dear John" and the barroom ballad "Don't Fail Me Now." And hopes for a real aesthetic breakthrough remain pinned on the third album Adams is planning on releasing this year—an upcoming collection of long-form story-songs, titled 29. Prolific Adams may be, but boring he is not.

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