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American Rock Beating Hard Inside New Orleans Group

Cowboy Mouth “It Means Escape” - Monkey Hill/Ichiban

This New Orleans foursome is an undiscovered treasure of American rock ‘n’ roll.

Propelled by the maniacal intensity of drummer/front man Fred LeBlanc and the dead-honest lyricism of axeslinging vocalists Paul Sanchez and John Thomas Griffith, the group delivers consistently brilliant songs with unreserved passion.

Portishead “Dummy” - Go! Discs/London

This dance-oriented U.K. duo has been hailed as one of the most ingenious newcomers in years. Part of the burgeoning Bristol blues scene, the act meshes deep, dubby bass lines with way-out instrumentation (Hammond and Theremin), slowshuffling hip-hop beats, and a vocalist who wavers between Billie Holiday’s melancholic resignation and Nancy Sinatra’s campy melodrama.

Aptly titled “Mysterions” kicks off this spy-themed CD, while majestic “Sour Times,” which samples “More Mission Impossible,” is pure James Bond.

Various Artists “Shelter: The Best Of Contemporary Singer/ Songwriters” - Putumayo World Music

Latest in Putumayo’s world music series is a two-disc overview of modern singer/songwriter talent, with 28 performers offering one track apiece.

The consistency of the program suggests that every artist on it is worth listening to.

Various Artists “Arcane” - Realworld/Caroline

“Arcane” is a congregation of artists that includes singer Jane Siberry, Turkish instrumentalist Kudsi Erguner, classical violinist Nigel Kennedy, drummer Billy Cobham, Simon Jeffes from the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Alex Gifford from the Grid, rhythmatist Hossam Ramzy, and ubiquitous percussionist Nana Vasconcelos.

In various combinations, they converge ambient art songs, svelte Brazilian jazz improvisations and serene world music atmospheres.

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