Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her, 17 (Polystar 1998)
More than just a weird band name (taken from an XTC song), the hypnotically skewed alt rock of Japanese singer/guitarist Aiga Higurashi and company can veer from sweetly melodic to Beefheart-bizarre in a single song.
The Meters, Look-Ka Py Py (Josie 1970, reissued 2004)
The Meters have been synonymous with New Orleans funk for so long it's easy to take them for granted, but it's always a good time to revisit the group's scrappy early days. Led by Art Neville on organ, each cut here is a little miracle of compact groove.
Tarwater, Silar (Mute 1998)
This German duo's eclectic post-rock pastiche mixes wobbly electronic noise, trip-hop darkness, spoken fragments and more into a surprisingly radio-friendly whole.
Lowell Fulson, My First Recordings (Arhoolie 1997)
The best work of Fulson's fifity-year career was probably the slick city blues he recorded for Chess in the fifties, but these late-forties sides aren't far behind. 26 tracks trace Fulson's growth from back-country guitar picker to jump-blues belter.