Nasty Gal & Is It Love Or Desire, by Betty Davis (Light in the Attic)
The former Mrs. Miles Davis's brand of growling, booty-shaking funk was just too raunchy for the supposedly liberated 1970s. Light in the Attic's double-album disc includes the first-ever release of Is It Love Or Desire , a lost classic from a truly amazing musician. R.E.-G.
The O'Darling, by The O'Darling (independent; some tracks streaming at myspace.com/theodarling)
This pocket pop orchestra's first album is a mixture of winsome thrift-shop ballads, sly cabaret numbers and tunes innocent enough to play on a solo xylophone. Great stuff from a relatively new Toronto band. R.E.-G.
XXXX, by You Say Party! We Say Die! (Paper Bag)
The bass-poppin', dance-rockin', 1980s-coppin' British Columbians, led by a longing Pat Benatar sound-alike, made a record that shimmers like a disco ball in an ice palace. B.W.
Si Para Usted, Vol. 2: The Funky Beats of Revolutionary Cuba (Waxing Deep)
Toronto broadcaster Dan Zacks' second fab collection of vintage Cuban funk includes great floor-shaking tracks by Los Barba, Los Brito and Toronto Cuban expat Hilario Duran. There's even a mind-blowing cover of Ides of March's Vehicle , by Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna. R.E-G.
Molina and Johnson, self-titled (Secretly Canadian)
Ragged, minimalist alt-country blues from Jason Molina and Will Johnson: awesomely despondent and as peachy as a rusty bullet to the belly. B.W.
Handel: Between Heaven and Earth, Sandrine Piau (Naïve)
The pure-voiced French soprano makes her searching encounters with a broad array of Handel arias seem like matters of life and death. A profoundly beautiful disc, with Stefano Montanari leading the excellent Accademia Bizantina. R.E-G.
Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! The Rolling Stones (Abko/Universal)
The Rolling Stones' ya-ya's were never more out than they were in 1969 at Madison Square Garden, evidenced here by a midnight-ramblin' reissue that includes previously unreleased tracks, video and sets from B.B. King and Ike & Tina Turner. B.W.
The French Connection, Zora Young (Delmark)
Superb in a variety of settings - she covers Hank Snow, Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley - the possible new queen of Chicago blues is already looking to expand her empire. B.W.
Welcome Joy, The Cave Singers (Matador)
It's as if Lindsey Buckingham had been lost for months in the deepest backwoods, surviving on swamp water, possums and droning folk-rock, finally to emerge and rename his band Fleetwood Zac. B.W.
Strands II, Darren Sigesmund (Independent)
Vivid ensemble passages underscore why trombonist Sigesmund is one of Toronto's best young jazz composers, but cameos from sax ace Tim Ries don't hurt, either. J.D.C.
Historicity, Vijay Iyer Trio (ACT)
Blessed with virtuosic chops, a keen sense of structure and a pop sensibility stretching from M.I.A. to West Side Story , pianist Iyer is the perfect jazz modernist, and this his finest effort. J.D.C.
Vivica Genaux: Pyrotechnics Vivaldi Opera Arias, Europa Galante, Fabio Biondi director (Virgin Classics)
Vivica Genaux, whose chocolaty alto and incendiary coloratura reminds of Cecilia Bartoli, is a current favourite for singing those near-impossible castrato arias that gave 18th-century opera its unique appeal. E.P.
Ferruccio Busoni: Piano Music, Vol. 6 with Wolf Harden (Naxos)
Liszt never made things easy for himself, and Busoni didn't like leaving well enough alone. So we're not surprised that Wolf Harden, playing Busoni's powerhouse piano transcription of Liszt's organ Fantasy and Fugue, sounds like he has four hands, not two. E.P.