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But District packs a number of bouncy, accessible car-radio stocking-stuffers, like the ingratiating single "Get Back" (still a bit too puffed-up with thug posturing, but at forgivable limits), "Number One Spot" (hearing Ludacris rap "Scheme, scheme / Plot, plot" is a highlight that has to be heard to be fully appreciated) and "Put Your Money" (with a surprising guest turn from DMX).

Absent Friends is about putting the past in perspective and holding out hope for a brighter future for this generation and the next.

Radiohead: Com Lag: 2 2=5 [EP] EMI Toshiba, 2004 Rating: 3.0 Radioheads remix/B-sides/noise-farts collection Com Lag suffered from a first-pressing glitch on Four Tets remix of Scatterbrain.

For those reasons, The Red Light District is the best work of the Atlanta rapper's career so far.

Elton John: Peachtree Road Universal, 2004 Rating: 3.7 At his current level of media recognition, Elton John could easily set his musical career on "coast" -- and an argument can be made that he's done so for many years.

The Divine Comedy: Absent Friends Nettwerk / Parlophone, 2004 Rating: 4.0 Neil Hannons first post-fatherhood album, Absent Friends, reflects a more sobering, candidly honest worldview from the conspicuously cheeky artist.

The Baroque arrangements and ornately articulate baritone (and, occasionally, soaring falsetto) remain in full force, but the lyrical content clearly reflects a shakeup in Hannons long term priorities.Some amusing reconfigurations include I Send My Love to You and Pushkin, both from 1994s Days in the Wake.Love gets a Grand Ole Opry-style makeover, complete with swinging rhythm and livelier vocals; Pushkin exchanges its spare acoustic simplicity for a piano-and-gospel harmonizing arrangement.For those seeking material with a little more bite, theres Our Mutual Friend, about a threes-a-crowd romantic triangle that ends badly for its jilted narrator.The fact that Hannon opens the album with a title track lamenting notable entertainers and personalities whove shuffled off this mortal coil, and closes with Charmed Life, a lovely ode to his baby girl, answers any questions about the Hannon of old magically reappearing.Subsequent releases have corrected the problem, but that still doesnt overcome the EPs main shortcoming: the bulk of the material here simply isnt very engaging.