Alright Still (Capitol)
A showbiz kid singing pop ditties with cheerful Jamaican and New Orleans underpinnings in a talky, tuneful, disarmingly normal-sounding voice, Lily Allen is no formal original. Her low-gloss production could even be called trad. Yet there's never been anyone like her. By now we've seen plenty of girls who stick up for themselves with some cheek. But they're generally either wildly defiant like Courtney or too ready to compromise like Missy. Allen knows female pride has become a round-the-way attitude — a simple fact of life. Every one of these eleven memorable songs has the same sense of inevitability.
Super Taranta! (Side One Dummy)
Ukrainian-born Eugene Hutz tours as if the world was America and his immigrant band was the JB's. Gogol Bordello's second straight masterwork proves again that you needn't rock the classics to celebrate your sacred European heritage. Their intercontinental funk claims Gypsy roots, with violin and accordion swallowing guitar. Like Arcade Fire, their fiercely articulated music turns the mess of the world into rage and joy. Unlike Arcade Fire, they're out to steal your girlfriend. Or boyfriend.