By Scott Brown
Updated September 26, 2006 at 08:45 PM EDT

The sun’s high in the sky, and I’m only now emerging from AOL Music, where I’ve had my snout in the free-streaming CD trough all morning. Before today, I’d never actively entered the aural realm of Ludacris (pictured), knowing him more for his movie career and his high-profile beefs (Oprah, Bill O’Reilly. T.I.) than for his music. And I must admit, when I saw the title and cover art for Release Therapy, I braced myself for the Luda-quivalent of Sting’s Mercury Falling. Luckily, this isn’t the case. The latest from Chris Bridges is a bundle of schizoid energy: part airing of grievances (”Tell It Like It Is,” a small-biz PSA for aspiring rappers, and the weirdly atmospheric ”Ultimate Satisfaction”), and part weightless mating calls (the already ubiquitous ”Money Maker”). I’m not entirely sure which category ”Woozy” belongs to; with creepy yet endlessly fascinating lyrical contributions by R. Kelly, it’s a seduction song on roofies, hypnotic and 100 percent disturbing. It lacks only a midget.

Also streaming this week: Evan Dando’s newest offering, The Lemonheads, which kinda took me back to high school. I remember noticing cooler, punkier kids listening to Dando’s band, and wondering, ”Who are these… Lemon-Heads?” while Weird Al entered his fourth rotation on my Walkman. ”No Backbone” appears to be the track they’re breaking out, but ”Poughkeepsie” gets my vote, if only because it’s high time someone wrote a song about the fun-to-say upstate New York burg.

And holy moly, Tori Amos has an 86-song collection out. I feel like the oldest emo lesbian on earth — seems like just yesterday I was picking out ”Winter” on the piano to impress alternachicks. Wonder if that tactic’s any more effective now.