The Flaming Lips
At this point, most folks give the godfathers of psych-rock a free pass: theyve been around for decades and survived every drug under the sun, only to continue to make highly original, experimental sonic landscapes. Its at least somewhat fitting that the name refers to the earliest state of development, as the band has discarded its straight-ahead pop scaffolding that garnered it so many fans (like that tune that was built for commercials, Do You Realize??) and have retreated back into the strange, always interesting psychedelia the Oklahoma trio first cut their teeth on.
To call Marios fourth album a relationship record is an understatement. Or possibly more aptly, a break-up record. Break Up, Soundtrack To My Broken Heart, Dont Walk Away, and I Miss My Friend all tip the listener off that someone recently did the Baltimore youngun wrong. The 23-year-old has always worn his heart on his sleeve, though -- as when he showed the world his relationship with his heroin addict mom in an MTV documentary. Featuring some of the bizs best hired guns (Stargate, Tricky Stewart, The-Dream), Mario dubbed the album D.N.A. to let listeners know hes undergone some changes.
Har Mar Superstar
You have to admit: the man has guts. Literally, and figuratively. Har, who never met a speedo he didnt like, has made an entire career out of his unabashed parading in said costume. And he would have been gone years ago, were it not for the fact that he sounds like Justin Timberlake, and writes downright hysterical tunes. Extra props for the Eva Mendes appearance in the video for Tall Boy -- which Har wrote originally with a bona fide profane pop princess in mind -- Britney Spears. She foolishly turned it down, but it was Hars to gain.