This month's Top 20 is a veritable crash course in modern rock. Alternative Nation icon Beck returns with Morning Phase, his first full-length in six years. The set finds Mr. Hansen in pensive singer-songwriter mode, dreamy folk rock perfect for morning drives beyond the suburban sprawl and into the country. In stark contrast, Weird Kids and Helios, the new joints from We Are the In Crowd and The Fray, respectively, are all about suburbia. This is particularly true of Weird Kids, an epic in mall-punk romanticism that also serves as the perfect spotlight for the outfit's charismatic lead singer, Taylor Jardine.
In other news, Deftones' always restless frontman Chino Moreno returns with yet another side project (see also Team Sleep and Palms). The self-titled debut from Crosses (commonly styled as †††) finds the singer exploring his interest in the more electronic manifestations of alt rock. If, however, Crosses isn't heavy enough for you, then check out the anger-fueled Restoring Force from Of Mice and Men, crabcore badasses founded in 2009 by former Attack Attack! vocalist Austin Carlile.
But not every title in our Top 20 is geared toward rock 'n' roll brats. Fans of dad rock (i.e. classic rock) need to jump on You Should Be So Lucky by the one and only Benmont Tench, a founding member of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. After years of production and session work (with everybody from Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones to Johnny Cash and John Fogerty), Tench decided, finally, to release his first solo album, and it's a good one. Another hot title is ZZ Top's The Complete Studio Albums 1970-1990. Not a lot to say about this mother other than if you don't like ZZ Top, then you don't like rock 'n' roll. Okay? Here's what you do: Guzzle a case of Lonestar while jamming the entire box set without interruption. After that, buy another case and start all over again. Now get listening!