Neil Young (Reprise 26315)
If ever an album lived up to its title, it's Neil Young's gleefully noisy "Ragged Glory." A masterful exercise in garage rock grunge, it's packed to the rafters with growling guitars, exhilarating bursts of feedback and the sort of loose-limbed arrangements that suggest a good deal more empathy than rehearsal. But Young balances his sonic excesses with some of his strongest melodies in years, from the edgy harmonies of "Mansion On the Hill" to the crusty innocence of "Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)." As a result, even the album's designated shocker, a curious confessional tune entitled "F*!#in' Up" (well, that's how he spells it), ends up as unexpectedly engaging.
Warrant (Columbia 45487)
Let's face it -- the sort of low-level sexual innuendo that can be found in the words to Warrant songs like "Cherry Pie" or "Sure Feels Good to Me" is childish, unimaginative and, frankly, rather boring. But anyone who'd dismiss the new Warrant album, "Cherry Pie," on the basis of its lyric sheet is completely missing the point. Sure, there are some questionable phrases on the album; in fact, the satirical "Ode to Tipper Gore" is practically wall-to-wall obscenities. So what? Truth is, the only things that really matter on a hard rock album like this one are high-watt hooks and hard-hitting guitars, and Warrant has both in abundance.