Selling Live Water
* * * 1/2

Slug, MC in Minneapolis hiphop duo Atmosphere, was probably the first rapper to bear the cross of "emo-hop," a tag he despises so much he refuses to even utter the word "emotional" in interviews. But there's no denying the next year belongs to the emotionally bare rapper, thanks in large part to the Anticon crew of which Sole is a part. Sole is a fine rapper on a no-bullshit vibe, and he's not afraid to voice anything about himself, including that he cried for two days straight after a breakup, or referencing Watership Down when he raps, "Run Rabbit, when they catch you, they'll kill you," on the quick-tongued, contemplative "Tokyo." Production is turned inward as much as the lyrics, with faraway beats and fluid, blue-sounding melodies, lending an air of even further introspection. Hiphop heads don't stand for b.s., requiring the message of MCs like Sole be that much more resonant on a universal scale. Oh... and his flow? This dude doesn't stutter once. JULIANNE SHEPHERD

Mount Eerie
(K Records)
* * * *

Is it possible, amongst the claustrophobic, fervently restrictive sphere that is "indierock," to create a record good enough to alienate your entire audience? This is the question posed by Mount Eerie, Phil Elvrum's hyper-intentional masterpiece as the Microphones. It's life, and it's death, and it's afterlife. It's tape hiss as instrumentation. It's gasping layers of song fragments filtered through waterfalls. And it's beautiful. Mount Eerie takes the kinds of gleefully indulgent compositions that pepper Elvrum's previous records and evolves them into a visionary novel that somehow transcends song form altogether. The record is so fully integrated it threatens to collapse under its own cohesion. And yet, somehow doesn't--standing instead as perhaps the most profound statement of sublime unity the extended K Records Mafia has yet to produce. ZAC PENNINGTON

Gran Riserva
(Six Degrees)
* * *

Now that everyone with some cheap software is a beat maker, it takes more than a boom-boom-crack to entice ears. Dzihan & Kamien's niche in the electronic spectrum is Viennese-flavored lounge, replete with tinkling pianos, smart rhythms, and Middle Eastern instrumentation. It's easy to see the influence, Austria sits as a geographic and cultural passageway from Eastern European and Arabian states. What makes Gran Riserva worthwhile is that it's more than "ethno-techno"; these beats can hold their own in any chic, urban sin-pit with a write-up in Wallpaper. Some make you want to dance, others loaf around just sounding lush and warm like a wintery café night on the Strasse. Unlike Americans clad in Birks and gargantuan backpacks, Dzihan & Kamien's cultured sonics are easy on the senses. ELLIOTT ADAMS

* * * * "Mean Joe" Greene
* * * "Broadway Joe" Namath
* * Lester "The Molester" Hayes
* Lou "The Toe" Groza