THE CURE Before the big hair, lipstick, and blink-182 collabo, the Cure were just another bunch of post-punk yelpers cranking out angular, angsty Brit-funk. Their '79 debut, Three Imaginary Boys (Elektra/Rhino), has finally been released in the U.S. (with a bonus disc of rarities), and it's surprisingly Goth-free. Just skip the Jimi Hendrix cover. (Out now)
HYPE! Filmmaker Doug Pray's witty, well-made 1996 rock doc, Hype!,goes deep into the flannel movement that actually felt like a revolution before it became an I Love the 90s punchline; the big stars (Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam) are all here, right alongside unsung heroes (Tad) and also-rans (the Melvins). (Out Dec. 21)
THE GOLDEN AGE OF DC COMICS The hefty, coffee-table-worthy Golden Age of DC Comics: 365 Days (Harry N. Abrams) selects single panels and vintage covers from the '30s-'50s for every day of the calendar year. Because every day should begin with men in tights. Who said that? (Out now)
PRINCE OF PERSIA: WARRIOR WITHIN Meet the darker, grittier sequel to one of 2003's best games. If last year's Prince was as lighthearted as Disney's Aladdin, this new adventure takes an R-rated turn with gory sword battles, decapitations, and a sexy vixen voiced by Matrix bombshell Monica Bellucci. (Out now)
ESTHERO On her excellent new CD, We R in Need of Musical Revolution(Reprise), eclectic Canadian soul singer Esthero is ''sick and tired of the s--- on the radio.'' Aw, cheer up, Esthero, you've also got a full-length on the way this spring, and we're sure it'll get played on the radio. [Crossing fingers] We promise. (Out Jan. 11)
DA CAPO BEST MUSIC WRITING 2004 Pick up this collection edited by the Dead's Mickey Hart for some of the year's funniest, most insightful, and most illuminating scribbles on the likes of Jay-Z, Willie Nelson, and all those whiny emo-rock weenies. (Out now)
TAIKO DRUM MASTER The Japanese import includes a plastic drum and two sticks to bang out the rhythm to songs like Britney's ''Toxic'' and Beethoven's booty-shaking Symphony No. 5. Now all they need is Tommy Lee as a spokesman. Or better yet, Matthew McConaughey! (Out now)
MASTODON & ISIS Two releases from these post-metal pioneers are bringing an unlikely grandeur to hardcore. Warning: This isn't Bon Jovi-type headbanging. Leviathan (Relapse), from Mastodon, thrashes and burns with an awe-inspiring set, while the sludge symphonies of Isis' (Ipecac) explode with ominous beauty. (Out now)
STONES THROW 101 For a batch of hallucinatory, goofy, utterly creative hip-hop videos you'll never find on MTV, check out Stones Throw 101(Stones Throw), a DVD saluting the eclectic West Coast label's 101st release. Bonus: It comes with a really tight 50-plus-track, 70-minute mix CD by label honcho Peanut Butter Wolf. (Out now)
NEED FOR SPEED UNDERGROUND 2 (EA, All Systems, E) With graphics that glimmer brighter than the rims on Pimp My Ride, this urban racing game lets you drag race through a massive virtual city. Bonus: Virtual cops not included. (Out now)
OUR DEAD-DRUNK MIXTAPE
The four best ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead songs to knock a couple back to!
''Caterwaul'' (from Worlds Apart, 2005) The band mutates Zep's ''Immigrant Song'' into an NBA halftime crowd-pleaser. Galloping riffs. Anthemic chorus. Your first beer of the evening couldn't have a better soundtrack.
''Mark David Chapman'' (from Madonna, 1999) Be generous: Buy a round of shots and then drag someone out to the dance floor to shake what the good Lord gave you along to the most groovable assassin-named song ever.
''When We Begin to Steal...'' (from ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, 1998) At the bar and got your eye on a special someone? Put this slow-burner from the Trail of Dead's debut on the jukebox, send over a glass of Pernod and soda, and let the scary courtship begin.
''Another Morning Stoner'' (from Source Tags and Codes, 2002) Last call, folks! Raise a lipstick-stained wineglass, swear eternal loyalty to each other, and start singing along. Or start making out. Either way, good times.