TOP PICK – CD
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds reissues (EMI)
Four Nick Cave albums from the '90s – Let Love In, Murder Ballads, The Boatman's Call, and No More Shall We Part (actually from 2001) – get the deluxe treatment, with an extra disc of videos and remastered surround sound. They're all moody, gloomy records featuring Cave at his best. But the one to head for first is 1997's The Boatman's Call, a breakup album that will leave you feeling like it was your heart that's busted.
Dirty South (Chicago Review)
Writer Ben Westhoff takes a detailed look at the Southern rappers who helped reignite regional hip-hop in the 2000s. The usual suspects show up – including OutKast and Lil Wayne – but the heart of the book is Westhoff's interviews with the main players and his ability to step back and analyze what makes hip-hop from the south tick. He doesn't shy away from the scene's shallowness either, diving into all the bling behind the rhymes.
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (Warner)
Disappointed by the live-action movie? Of course you were. It's one of the year's worst. Wash the taste of Ryan Reynolds out of your mouth with this thrilling straight-to-home-video animated take on the ring-wielding superhero. Geeky cult star Nathan Fillion voices the Green Lantern, and his nuanced reading shines a bright green light on just what the big-screen version got wrong.
Youssou N'Dour: Dakar – Kingston (Decca)
The Senegalese singer, and one of the planet's most distinctive voices, goes reggae on his latest album, an island-inflected world party that blends, bridges, and swirls cultures. N'Dour recorded Dakar – Kingston with veteran Jamaican musicians, who give the album a breezy lift. And of course he had to cover Bob Marley, who's “Redemption Song” finds a place somewhere between two perfect worlds.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Heroes of Bikini Bottom (Nickelodeon/Paramount)
The latest collection of shorts starring everyone's favorite yellow porous pineapple dweller includes eight recent episodes, highlighted by “Back to the Past,” in which SpongeBob travels time to catch his heroes Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy in their prime. Ernest Borgnine, Tim Conway, and Adam West provide voices. Second-best: “A Day Without Tears,” where the sensitive star tries to go 24 hours without sobbing. Good luck.