Hood Treason

In the homemade video for "Y'all Should All Get Lynched," N.Y.Oil shows photos of 50, Jim Jones, and Three 6 Mafia while asking "Malcolm X died for you to act like this?" It's because of critical, confrontational ideas like that, along with his rugged, tight flow that make N.Y.Oil hip-hop's last, best hope. MS

Various Artists
1970's Algerian
Proto-Rai Underground

(Sublime Frequencies)

Following quick on the heels of two extremely intense guitar records from West Africa, Sublime Frequencies most intriguing compilation chronicles the roots of Algeria's Rai movement. If you've had the pleasure of hearing Rai, it's likely a glossy, perhaps soulless update of the seedy grooves found here. Unknown purveyors of the current version of the genre, such as Groupe El Azhar and L'Orchestre Bellemou, were forced underground by government censorship for their addition of modern instruments. After listening to this brief survey of that time, you'll come to realize that these musicians were just accenting the already traditional tribal psych-freakouts with the inevitable flash of trumpet, and on the album's highlight, Cheb Zergui's "scandalous," the introduction of Hendrix influenced wah-wah jam. KJE

Mission of Burma
The Definitive Editions

While Mission of Burma's small catalog—one EP (Signals, Calls and Marches), one full-length (Vs.), and one posthumous live album (The Horrible Truth About Burman)—from the band's original run in the early-80s had been reissued on CD in the '90s by Rykodisc, those once easy to find, though out-of-print, editions had become increasingly scarce in the wake of renewed interest in the band sparked by Our Band Could Be Your Life and MOB's subsequent reunion. Thankfully Matador has put the records back into circulation, doing Rykodisc, who included both sides of the "Academy Fight Song" single with Signals, one better by expanding each with rarities, art-filled booklets, and live DVDs. Even better, the heavy-duty vinyl editions have been pressed with recreations of their original Ace of Hearts labels. It all amounts to a fitting treatment to the music contained therein. SS

Bobb Trimble
Harvest of Dreams
Iron Curtain Innocence

(Secretly Canadian)

With obscurist re-issues dug up for the first time, the back story and crazed cult status of the particular artist often overshadows the actual material. And though Worchester, Massachusetts' Bobb Trimble was known for odd behavior (recruiting 12- and 13-year-olds for his backing band), his life said nothing of the rich, dense, psych-pop he created on 1981's Harvest of Dreams and '82's Iron Curtain Innocence. Combining eerily hushed acoustic melancholy with field recordings, movie clips, baroque instruments, and his unique femme-like falsetto, Trimble had built his own escapist fantasies through home recording. Somewhere between dystopian nightmare and sugary fever dream exists the waiting room where a "trajesty" like "One Mile from Heaven" wafts from speakers in the sky. Heady, hypnotic, and bittersweet. KJE

Tommy Jay
Tommy Jay's Tall
Tales of Trauma

(Columbus Discount)

Tommy Jay received his just due as one of the foremost voices in Ohio underground rock with the vinyl/CD reissue of this 1986 cassette, Tommy Jay's Tall Tales of Trauma. Jay's haunting songwriting, along with the presence of luminaries like Mike Rep, The General and Nudge Squidfish, make this a must-have. RW

Superfuzz Bigmuff
(Sub Pop)

While overshadowed by the platinum-sellers of their friends, Mudhoney's debut EP remains the prototype of the Seattle sound in the early-90s. This is grunge mach I, at its best on songs like "Touch Me I'm Sick" and "In 'n' Out of Grace." And with Sub Pop expanding the record for its deluxe edition to include the band's cover of Sonic Youth's "Halloween," demos and a second disc of early live cuts taken from two shows, you can finally throw away that shitty sounding CD you bought 20 years ago. SS

Dennis Wilson
Pacific Ocean Blue
(Sony Legacy)

The reissue of Pacific Ocean Blue lets us see Dennis Wilson as more than just the heart and libido of the Beach Boys. Wilson's lush and profound 1977 pop masterpiece is packaged with an extra disc of the equally essential (and previously unreleased) Bambu sessions. RW

Deluxe Editions

If you're going to remaster and re-release your records, you ought to do it right the first time, because at this point even Elvis Costello fans are getting sick of buying their third and fourth editions. Thankfully that's been the case with the reissues of U2's back catalog. With the remastering of each being overseen by The Edge and packaged in hard-bound, book-like slip-covers with a second disc of unreleased tracks, rarities and live cuts, the new versions of Boy, October, War, and Under a Blood Red Sky (whose second disc is an expanded version of the video release on DVD for the first time) are the epitome of reissue perfection. SS

Creedence Clearwater Revival
40th Anniversay Editions

I've written before about CCR's overlooked importance, but it's worth restating that the band's string of AM radio hits in no way diminishes the piquancy of the six albums the original line-up put out while intact: their self-titled debut, Bayou Country, Green River, Willy and the Poor Boys, Cosmo's Factory, and Pendulum. None of the albums have been previously issued on CD with much care so it's apt that they are finally given due respect. Each disc comes with liner notes that include essays from such notable writers as Dave Marsh and Robert Christgau, in addition to including bonus tracks of outtakes and live performances. But the real difference is the sound. Remastered to a rich and supple hue, these CDs vividly show why CCR remains one of the great greats. SS

The Jesus and Mary Chain
The Power of Negative Thinking: B-Sides & Rarities

There's two reasons why the Jesus and Mary Chain's B-sides boxset is the best reissue of 2008: lavish packaging and four CDs' worth of amazing material. It's a testament to the JAMC that their extracurricular cuts (more than half of it from the band's prime) stands up to such treatment. With revitalized sound on a wealth of standouts like "Vegetable Man," "Sidewalking" and "Bo Diddley Is Jesus," it's hard not to be consumed by the extreme power the band once wielded. SS