22 Pistepirkko: "Eleven" (Clearspot) From Finland comes this latest vision of twisted pop. At times reminiscent of commercial Velvet Underground and early New Order, it's patched together in their own quirky way and when those big crescendos come, well, wow. Just, wow! HHHH

Marilyn Manson: "Mechanical Animal" (Universal/Interscope) MM seemed content to shock middle America or play inferior NIN-type sounds. But they've decided it's time to be a rock band and so comes this raw, glam-tinged rocker. Of course, there's still provocation on tracks like "I Don't Like Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me)". HHHH

Bobby Conn: "Rise Up!" (Atavistic/ Truckstop) It's fitting that in a week when Marilyn Manson go straight-ish, from the Chicago underground comes the second album from a true freak. There's pop, gospel and lounge interfacing at strange angles, but when he wants to, as on "Rise Up. Now!", Conn is a master of twisted beauty. HHHH

The Crocketts: "We May Be Skinny & Wirey" (Blue Dog/V2) The Crocketts have a reputation for riotously manic gigs, and they've captured much of that on this debut. Most of it is like punk mixed with a spaghetti western on extreme fast-forward. Quieter moments, such as the heartfelt "Explain", show they can write, and overall it's a great ragged slice of fun. HHHH

Manic Street Preachers: "This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours" (Epic) In their first album as a true trio, the Manics deliver another slab of anthemic rock that manages to be gloomy yet uplifting. Their recent hit single is one of the more joyous moments here, but they also offer class introspection. There are a couple of weak tracks, so this is just short of being their best album. HHHH


Eels: "Last Stop: This Town" (DreamWorks) This rambling mix of beats and E's soft rasp, co-produced by Michael Simpson of the Dust Brothers, signals the return of Eels, with an even better and quirkier little single than either "Susan's House" or "Novocaine for the Soul". Warm and catchy. HHHH