Better Today Then
(Jealous Butcher Records)

OK, we all have that crush in our past... you know, that super dreamy person we couldn't forget about for one bloody second, and caused us to shower/ shave/ powder/ make-up daily, even though in reality we were lazy, smelly, one-outfit-wearing slobs. Of course you must remember what happened when you finally scored that sucker. It sucked. Or maybe it didn't, but it sure as hell wasn't the mindblower you remembered from your masturbatory fantasies. That's what happened with Wow & Flutter. Their new CD looks so smashing that you're like, "Hey baby, wassup, I'd like to see what you're all about." And the disc does give you a big hot smooch with its 20-minute guitar building masterpiece "Confessions," but is otherwise blurry and nondescript. If you haven't heard their dark-days brand of indie rock, spend your dough on one of their first two albums; they're both absolutely delish. KATIE SHIMER

Little Sparrow
(Sugar Hill/Blue Eye Records)

With her 1999 album, The Grass Is Blue, Dolly Parton explored her love of bluegrass music with a flair and an emotional investment that had been missing from her work for a long time. Since debuting at the Grand Ole Opry in 1959, Parton catapulted to country stardom, becoming an icon and an outsized persona whose name was instantly recognizable. What may have been overshadowed is her songwriting; she's written over 3000 songs. On Little Sparrow, Parton continues her exploration of bluegrass and Appalachian music with an eclectic collection of originals and standards. It is a more personal statement than The Grass Is Blue, and Parton invests the material with passion and a melancholic grace. She shows that in cleaving to the music she grew up with, she still has a lot to say artistically. NATE LIPPENS


(Red76 Records)

It takes a certain bravado to release a 3-CD box set, especially when it's your first CD release. But perhaps such a major release is more telling of the confidence and faith that local production company Red76 Records has in Sauvie Island Moon Rocket Factory. Matching Portland's inconsistent energy levels and manic-depressive mood swings, the band uses minimalist drumming and sharp-edged guitar chords to sketch a wide reaching audio mural of the city. In same way that The Monkees' gleeful music easily framed Davy Jones aping around mid-'60s London, these songs evoke a blurry-eyed picture of a Mod, head tucked low against the gray and wet February, strolling down West Burnside. From the mournful harmonizing on "Wy'East Can't Sleep" to the giddy carnival of "Muddlepuddle Park," the 3-CD set is an astute and wide-ranging soundtrack for Portland. PHIL BUSSE