Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3 Olé! Tarantula

British art pop sage Robyn Hitchcock teams up with R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Ministry drummer Bill Rieflin and Minus 5 maestro Scott McCaughey for what is easily his most back-to-front solid studio release in a decade. Despite the impressive line-up of artists and the novel band moniker, Olé! Tarantula yields track after track of classic Hitchcock material chock full of whimsical narratives studded with non sequiturs and tactile imagery. Musically, the ten tracks that comprise the CD are as catchy, well-arranged and masterfully performed as you would expect given the assembled talent. And if tracks like "Underground Sun” and "Museum of Sex” sound particularly Soft Boys-esque, it undoubtedly has to do with guest performances by that legendary unit’s Kimberley Rew and Morris Windsor, who lend their skills to those and a handful of other titles here. (Other contributors include Harvey Danger’s Sean Nelson and Chris Ballew of President of the United States of America infamy.) A consistently lively, guitar-heavy melodic pop album in the spirit of Hitchcock and the Egyptians’ finest moments, Olé! Tarantula also features a track co-penned by Andy Partridge, "’Cause It’s Love (Saint Parallelogram),” which stands out as one of the collection’s strongest offerings. (Yep Roc)