The Inbox: Justin Timberlake, Kacey Musgraves and More
Welcome to The Inbox, a recurring feature in which we take a spin through the week's hottest new releases (along with a bit of Rhapsody's own reviews) and pair each album with the weirdest, coolest, (sometimes unintentionally) funniest stuff we can find on the Internet. Enjoy.
Best Long-Awaited Pop-R&B Superstar Comeback That May Very Well Be the Second-Best Gift You've Ever Received
Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience
The first singles off J.T.'s long-awaited third album implied that, a decade after his debut, he's grown. 20/20 works hard to present the former boy bander as a sharp-dressed man with refined tastes (see: "That Girl," kinda like "My Girl" recorded in the "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" era). But he's still bringing sexy back, just in a more ... Clooney-ish way. [Rachel Devitt]
Best Gritty, Crushing, Wry Hard-Rock Broadsides for Those Who Find This Compilation of Every Single Time James Hetfield Has Sung the Word "Yeah" Insufficiently Thoughtful
Clutch, Earth Rocker
Sounds like Maryland's stoner-funk musclemen have been digging Westbound-era Funkadelic as much as old RATM lately. Their rhythm section's packing that kind of whomp, especially in the opener and closer, the latter of which defines their "political persuasion" as "howling at the moon" just a few cuts after they hand some blowhard "Mr. Freedom" his ass on a platter. [Chuck Eddy]
Best Swaggering R&B Album Named More Than Words That Sadly Does Not Include a Cover of That "More Than Words"
Brian McKnight, More Than Words
The urban adult contemporary superstar's latest kicks off with the surprisingly funky "Don't Stop." He eventually slows down -- after all, this is a Brian McKnight album -- but its best cuts, like "Get U to Stay" and "Sweeter," are complemented by imaginative smooth jazz arrangements. [Mosi Reeves]
Best Mega-Talented Country Diva Debut Designed to Both Delight and Terrify Country Radio
Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park
Kacey Musgraves woos with dry wit and a clever turn of phrase. The Texas native sings about many things you'd expect from a 24-year-old (boys, life in a small town, etc.) but with a frankness and cynicism well beyond her years. [Linda Ryan]
Best Triumphant but Downcast Indie Rock Jams for Folks Who Left SXSW Feeling Both Elated and a Little Bit Like This Guy:
Low, The Invisible Way
Low's 10th album, and a marker of their 20-year anniversary as a band, The Invisible Way sounds less celebratory than you might expect. "I know I shouldn't be afraid," they sing on "Clarence White," but fear runs through the album like an oncoming headache. Time "makes you choose between two lies"; love "got caught up in the forest, in the branches of the trees." [Philip Sherburne]
Best All-Star Folk Rock Tribute to One of the Raddest Dudes of All Time:
Various Artists, Love for Levon
Love for Levon was an all-star jam held in fall 2012 to honor Levon Helm, drummer for The Band and Americana icon who passed away that spring. Fans of rock music know exactly how these tribute events unfold: With each new tune a different celebrity entertainer takes the stage. [Justin Farrar]
Best Catchy, Grouchy, Mall-Punk Jams Bolstered by the Finest Pop-Culture Reference to Julius Caesar Since This One:
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Et Tu, Brute?
To celebrate their 10th anniversary, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus have dropped an EP produced by David Bendeth (who also worked on their debut, Don't You Fake It). Though fans were probably hoping for an album, the six-cut release is a more-than-solid showcase for the energetic mix of hook-laden mall punk, metalcore heft and hard rock hot licks the band has developed over the last decade. [Justin Farrar]