Picks and Pans Review: Recent Raves

updated 09/27/2010 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/27/2010 AT 01:00 AM EDT

RYAN BINGHAM & THE DEAD HORSES

Junky Star

Coming off his Oscar for "The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)," Bingham ventures into more rich alt-country terrain with producer T Bone Burnett.

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USHER

Versus

From "Hot Tottie," a rubbery hip-hop groove, to the sexy, Prince-esque slow jam "Lay You Down," Usher gives fans more reason to go "OMG" on this nine-song EP.

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FANTASIA

Back to Me

After her recent suicide attempt, Fantasia emerges with her best album yet. On old-schoolish songs like "Bittersweet," she digs deep with raspy-voiced soul.

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JOHN MELLENCAMP

No Better Than This

This vintage-sounding set, exploring traditional country, blues and folk, shows how far the heartland rocker has come from his John Cougar days.

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