Trying to categorize Canadian native Atlantis: Hymns for Disco will leave you tied in knots. The infectiously catchy album debuted at number one on the Canadian charts in October (it's soon to be released in the U.S.) and is Outkast, Cody Chestnutt, The Beastie Boys, and Gnarls Barkley all rolled into one and then some. Musical styles range from b-boy retro to garage rock. K-os writes, plays piano, guitar, harmonica and more, as well as sings, raps and produces extensively on Atlantis. His songs feel raw and honest. His lyrics are philosophical and introspective. And his blend of rock, pop and hip-hop is original and inspired.

Some tracks on Atlantis are sparse and span the poles of “acoustic,†from a singer-songwriter guitar ballad to a beatbox/mc freestyle. But most are full-blown productions with a live band and rich arrangements. Highlights include “The Rain,†an old-school soul ballad, “Fly Paper,†a poppy party anthem, and “Born to Run,†which sounds like a Police song performed by the Roots. But these far-flung (or far-fetched) sounding hybrids manage to avoid coming off as pretentious. To the contrary, they are natural, fresh (and—at the risk of invoking Kool and the Gang) exciting.

by DJ Scribe