A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:

Aretha Franklin, "My Country 'Tis of Thee," Obama inauguration. The Queen of Soul added a regal touch to the ceremony, with her churchy vocal rendition and her crown, a fabulous gray hat topped with a giant, bejeweled bow.

"We Are One," Lincoln Memorial. What a stirring program of inspirational speeches and music. Highlights: Betty LaVette with Jon Bon Jovi on "Change Is Gonna Come," James Taylor's loving "Shower the People," invigorating showman Garth Brooks' medley, John Mellencamp's anthemic "Pink Houses," U2 rocking out in the U.S.A. and Pete Seeger's hearty sing-along of "This Land Is Your Land."

James Morrison, Fitzgerald Theater. Opening for Adele, this raspy-voiced young Brit was awkwardly shy but unstoppably soulful.


Animal Collective, "Merriweather Post Pavilion." Bursting with electric and ethereal soundscapes, the sonic scientist's ninth album vivifies the pop format with dense vocal patterns and hypnotic audio textures. It's brilliantly playful, pretty and surprisingly accessible.

Omar Rodriguez Lopez, "Old Money." The first solo album by the Mars Volta guitarist/musical director provides the listener with yet another glimpse into his musical mind: one that blooms perennially with neurotic yet sensual guitar solos, pulsing Latin rhythms and climaxes of audio-overload.

STS9 and Prefuse 73, "STS9 vs. Prefuse 73 (Megaloid MPC VET Mixxx)" EP. This glitched-out electronic treat rides an elusive line between electronica and trip-hop. Decorated with glittering riffs and layered in fuzzy staccato blips, this energetic EP, which costs less than $4, is worth every cent.