Noteworthy

Pop/Rock

Cowboy Troy - Loco Motive (Warner Bros.): Mix one part country, one part hard rock, a slice of soul, and a generous portion of hip hop, and what do you get? Cowboy Troy's world of "hick hop." Over the past few years, Troy has spent ample time on stage and in studio with country radicals Big & Rich, and their influence is layered throughout this eclectic collection. Some of the more interesting tracks include the Marvin Gaye-esque "Somebody's Smilin' on Me' and the urgent vocals of Julie Kinsey on "Do Your Thang," reminiscent of the '80s punk band, X. While this gutsy adventure into new musical territory had been marketed to country fans, it may be better suited for hip-hop listeners. By Vic Roberts

Bluegrass

The Chapmans - Simple Man (Pinecastle): The best bluegrass music recalls the storytelling, the wit, the deep emotion of Scots-Irish people back along the ridges and deep in the hollows of Appalachia. And above all, the blending of voices so close in quality it's hard to tell them apart. The Chapmans - three brothers and their father - achieve this so sweetly and powerfully on their new album. With such guest instrumentalists as Stuart Duncan, Ron Block, and Andy Leftwich filling out the band, these performers have produced an album that reaches deep into America's musical roots with fresh, fraternal harmonies. By Brad Knickerbocker

Jazz

Dave Brubeck Quartet - London Flat, London Sharp (Telarc): Dave Brubeck's 85th birthday album is a surprise party for someone who's listened as long as Brubeck's played. No chestnuts in these nine compositions dating back to 1945 ("Ballad of the Rhine," an affecting closing solo). To the title tune's musical puns let's add "flat out," with Bobby Militello's alto sax flying over drummer Randy Jones and bassist Michael Moore. Contrast "Forty Days," sax and piano keening in the wilderness with the romping rock 'n' boogie of "Mr. Fats." The diverse fare includes Latin beats, a flute praying for peace, a bass eloquently bowed, a hymn going bluesy and back again. Many happy returns. By Roderick Nordell

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