Bay Area-based Zion I pumps up energy levels with potent beats and punctual rhymes. High-grade production by Amp Live comes in assorted flavors, all of which are ultra-crisp, clean, and chunky. MC Zion commands your attention with a steady stream of politically seasoned rhymes and plenty of charisma. With songs like these, the duo's stock continues to shoot through the roof.
U.K. indie-styled rockers give a nod to a tradition of melodic crooning and gritty guitars and the result is the enticing sound of Futureheads. These lads strut into the dance party and shamelessly flirt with Britpop by employing a lyrically driven sound surrounded by dirty guitar work. If the Strokes intermarried with Interpol, these bandmates--who've obviously graduating with honors from the school of sexy--could be their prodigal offspring.
Since emerging in the '80s as the voice of 'Til Tuesday, and following that with a series of thoughtful, introspective solo albums, Aimee Mann has maintained her high status as a thoroughly engaging and accomplished singer-songwriter. Her songs carry the weight of complex emotions, yet they never get bogged down in too much sentimentality.