In stores and on sale

Artist: Counting Crows
Title: Films About Ghosts
Genre: Rock
Label: Interscope/Geffen

If you’re a Counting Crows diehard, you’ll love this album, but you probably already have it. Whether it’s an older CD somewhere in your collection or your own ‘best of’ mix, Ghosts probably looks a lot something you already own , as it features the band’s most well-loved songs, along with two new tracks (one is a twangy cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Friend Of The Devil”) and one live rarity. If you’re a newer fan who’s never really understood the band’s hype, this album accurately summarizes the Crows’ success over the past 10 years without getting lost in their more obscure material. The balance of radio hits and hand-picked band favorites is a good way to acclimate listeners to the many sides of the Counting Crows.

Artist: Ani DiFranco
Album: Educated Guess
Genre: Folk/Jazz
Label: Righteous Babe Records

On this album, I found the essence of Ani hiding at the end of the seventh track, when she begins furiously strumming a guitar riff, stutters all over the first three words of text, catches her breath after laughing and then digs back into the very same riff with even more intensity as the track skips to number eight. Ani has experimented with style on her past 21 albums, but the prolific artist remains rooted in the belief that her work should precisely recreate the same emotion that inspired it. Returning to folksy musical anomalies that drown behind spoken poems and wandering melodies, Educated Guess sounds just as irregular as the insomniac feminist herself. Ani tackles topics such as corporatism, materialism, physics and love, all while providing full instrumentation, singing both leading and backing vocals, recording, mixing, and tossing in bonus artwork and poetry. The autonomous approach seems to work, revealing some of her most well-defined themes and innovative sounds. Her unique vocal twangs, veiled poetry and explicitly political lyrics make it hard to assign Ani a role, genre or even an adjective. Whether or not you agree with her message, if you listen to this CD loud enough, you will fall into a trance that pulls you deep into Ani’s world, provoking you to analyze your own world and then step back to look at the bigger picture.

Artist: Triumph the Insult
Comic Dog
Title: Come Poop with Me
Genre: Comedy
Label: Warner Bros.

Put on a pot of coffee. Go get a box of prunes. You might need some reading material for this. In case you didn’t know, poop saves the world. It also lowers your cholesterol, solves any argument and is the co-writer of “A Beautiful Mind.” Triumph the Insult Comic Dog enlists a set of B-list actors to explain these points and rattle off people, places and things that “need a little pooping.” The nymphomaniac pooch hasn’t changed his raunchy ways. His second album questions, “Who put the cock in ‘cocker spaniel’?” exposes Benji’s homosexuality, confronts Bob Barker’s attempts to control the pet population and brings fans into his private life with a live phone call to an STD hotline. If you’re easily offended by animal porn or the mockery of hallucinogenic wizards, you may want to pass on this CD, but otherwise, the CD-DVD set ensures a chuckle and may even inspire you to eat more fiber.

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