Figures. The minute the Donnas put a cartoon of themselves on an album cover, they stop being one. Gone are the uninterrupted sneers that meant either a) the Donnas are gonna bend all you matchstick men to their whim ("Are You Gonna Move It for Me," "40 Boys in Forty Nights," "You've Got a Crush on Me"), or b) the gals are exercising grrrl power in new, preposterous ways ("I Wanna Be a Unabomber"). The AC/DC power is still there, but there's a lyrical defenselessness creeping in -- behold the new album's opener, "I Don't Want to Know (If You Don't Want Me)," and the breakout single, "Don't Break Me Down." This, coupled with the discontinuation of the "Donna" first names, has some Donnaholics worried that the former Donna A. (singer Brett Anderson) is being groomed for Belinda Carlisle futility. But not to worry yet -- she still sings mostly like she's choosing teammates for dodgeball.
The Von Bondies' front man Jason Stollsteimer gained a lot of unwanted infamy last year at the wrong end of Jack White's fist, but the Detroit band has steadily moved out of the shadow of that altercation with one of this year's best rock albums, the Jerry Harrison-produced Pawn Shoppe Heart. Its single, "C'mon C'mon," was adapted as the heart-racing theme to the critically acclaimed Denis Leary series Rescue Me. It's probably the first time in ages there's been a reason to scan those annoying split-screen closing credits and follow it up with a trip to the record store.