(As published in the Times of Acadiana ... )
Jaci Velasquez, Crystal Clear (Word). The lyrics remain Evangelical clichés or minor variations thereon, but Velasquez’s all-stops-out, Madonna-meets-Gloria Estefan pop gets lusher all the time.
Veruca Salt, Resolver (Beyond). Doll parts with dirty mouths, power-grunge guitars, and hooks, hooks, hooks.
Loudon Wainwright III, Social Studies (Hannibal). The laughter-to-wince ratio of these topical, satiric, as-heard-on-NPR ditties is about two-to-one, with the ratio of timeless insights to dated inside jokes a little tougher to call.
The Wallflowers, (Breach) (Interscope). In which Jakob Dylan fulfills the fifth commandment, more or less.
Dweezil Zappa, Automatic (Favored Nations). Gizmo-enhanced, guitar-saturated funk ’n’ whoosh.
Zebrahead, Playmate of the Year (Columbia). Cheerfully hard-driving tattoo rock--and less obsessed with sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll than with the way they let you down in the end.