Year-end lists are still a ways off, and a lot of standout albums, books and DVDs have been piling up on our desks since summer. It's time once again to let you in on our quarterly favorites. Who knows if they'll make the final cut come year-in-review time? There's a lot yet to come out between now and then -- maybe even a Guns N' Roses album. CDs

Metallica, "Death Magnetic" (Warner Bros.) -- Want proof that this is a return to form? Some "fans" are actually complaining that the Rick Rubin-produced album is too loud. Supposedly, it causes some people's systems to distort. Go back to listening to Staind or "The Black Album," you wussies. (C.R.)

TV on the Radio, "Dear Science" (Interscope) -- Another wonderfully eclectic collage that's smart, funny, purposeful and inspiring. The music -- with echoes of David Bowie, Prince, Sonic Youth, indie hip-hop, Afropop, Broadway, electronica, psychedelia, blues, funk, doo-wop -- is peppier than the Brooklyn art-rockers' first two discs and perfect for these changing times. (J.B.)

Adele, "19" (Columbia) -- Enough with the Amy Winehouse and Duffy comparisons. The 20-year-old Brit's debut -- issued stateside in June after a breakout spring in the United Kingdom -- proves she really is one of a kind. But if you do want reference points, how about her Nina Simone-like, wounded-soul voice, or her Joni Mitchell-ian intimate, poetic writing style? She has luck, too: She was on "Saturday Night Live" on the same ratings-busting night as Sarah Palin. (C.R.)

Mates of State, "Re-Arrange Us" (Barsuk) -- Their infectious single "Shake It Off" is a good indicator of the bubbly and often just plain beautiful, piano-plunked indie-pop heard throughout this Kansas-bred husband/wife duo's fifth record, with echoes of the New Pornographers and Feist. The feel-good album of the year? (C.R.)

Lucinda Williams, "Little Honey" (Lost Highway) -- She's happy for a change -- heck, for the first time. Her words are upbeat and she's rocking. No, these songs aren't as poignant and poetic as what we've grown accustomed to from the Americana queen, but this playful, joyful disc adds another jewel to her crown. (J.B.)

Nas, "(Untitled)" (Universal/Def Jam) -- Whatever you think of the controversy over the original title, you'll probably forget all about it by the time you rock out with the still steady-flowing king of Queens rappers through to the final track, "Black President." A song and album that are relevant to the times, a quality that way too many hip-hop records lack these days. (C.R.)

Otis Redding, "Live in London and Paris" (Stax) -- Half of this 17-track collection was previously available as "Otis in Europe," from a March 1967 Stax promo tour featuring Booker T. & the MGs as the house band (they rarely left the studio in those days). In either form, it's the most electric, riveting set of recordings Redding delivered before his death eight months later. A must for collectors. (C.R.)

BOOKS

Danny Goldberg, "Bumping Into Geniuses: My Life Inside the Rock and Roll Business" (Gotham) -- He covered Woodstock as a reporter, served as Led Zeppelin's first U.S. publicist and record-label chief, ran two major labels in the 1990s and managed Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt (during "Nick of Time"), Steve Earle, Tom Morello and, most notably, Nirvana. Writes Goldberg: "My relationship with Kurt Cobain was the most important of my professional career and had many contradictory levels. I was his manager, where I did a decent job, and his friend, where I failed." Goldberg doesn't tell all, but there are plenty of warts along with insight and excitement. (J.B.)

Jon Bream • 612-673-1719 Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658