Blondie - The Curse of Blondie (Sanctuary Records) Simply put, this is the best Blondie record since vocalist Deborah Harry, guitarist Chris Stein, and company gained prominence with "Parallel Lines" in 1978. The band has rediscovered its "new wave" roots since 1999's lackluster "No Exit." "Curse" contains a premium blend of screaming rock tracks, rap lyrics (some of which are explicit), and pulsating dance rhythms. All of the songs are complemented by synthesizers that weave in eerie counter-melodies. Look for the record's first single, "Good Boys" - a tune reminiscent of Blondie's smash hit "Heart of Glass"- to eventually become a standard in dance clubs across America. - Vic Roberts
Marillion - Marbles (Intact): Marillion is one of the few indie bands who can claim to be truly independent. "Marbles," the British quintet's 13th album, was financed by fans - more than 13,000 of them - who preordered the CD before a note had been recorded. The result is perhaps the band's finest album. The first single, "You're Gone," just entered the British charts at No. 7 and showcases the neoprogressive rockers' pop sensibilities even as epics like "Neverland" allow vocalist Steve Hogarth reach emotional planes most bands don't know exist. With influences from Radiohead to Crowded House, this is rock music for the head and heart. By Stephen Humphries
Prince - Musicology (NPG/Columbia) He still sounds like Prince. He still looks like Prince. But his new CD smells like leftovers. Though he may try to pass this off as fresh Prince, I know a defrosted James Brown riff when I hear one, and the microwaved slow-jams and reheated synth-rock just taste funny, like cafeteria food with all the flava boiled out. If His Purpleness wants another spin in the spotlight, he's going to have to do better than this. - John Kehe
Bill Charlap Trio - Somewhere (BlueNote) The son of a Broadway composer and big band singer, Charlap brings a New York-style bravura to these well-chosen songs, all composed by the late Leonard Bernstein. With a style that deftly combines the lyricism of Bill Evans and the chord-grabbing machismo of Erroll Garner, Charlap shows why he is one of hottest jazz pianists working today. His rhythm section of two unrelated Washingtons, Peter on bass and Kenny on drums, provides creative and intuitive support on songs such as "Cool" from "West Side Story" and the wistful "Some Other Time" from "On The Town." An infectious disc from beginning to end. - J.K.