In the spirit of my "what are we watching lately?" thread, let's share what we're listening to lately. Here goes: -Pet Shop Boys -- I've loved their work since I was a kid and first heard "Introspective." I'm now going back to their classics and am more than pleased at how well they stand up. -The Orb -- Moonbuilding 2703 AD. An almost too-good-to-be-true return to form. Their best since "Orblivion" And what's this? They just released an all-ambient album? That truly is too good to be true. I'm hoping for a KLF "chill-out" style album, but I'm open to any kind of ambient they cook up. -Aphex Twin -- I'm always listening to his stuff. Sure, it may not be as groundbreaking as many think (a lot of his work is built on stuff going back to the 70s like Can and other Krautrock, as well as Steve Roach) but he has a trademark style, which is rare in an era where most electronic music sounds the same. I know an Aphex Twin song when I hear it. -Steely Dan -- mostly Aja and Katy Lied. In particular, I think Katy Lied is criminally underrated. Session music at its zenith. And for those who think the 'Dan were too perfectionist to be emotional, listen to "Deacon Blues" and "Your Gold Teeth Part II" -Rick James -- surprised it took me so long to get into his work. Man, "Give it To me Baby," "Ghetto Life" and "Make Love to Me" are stone-cold songs. Lusty, horny, and buzzing with too much cocaine. Just the way disco/funk should be. Prince may have gotten more attention, but you'd be foolish to forget about Rick. His songs had more urban oomph than Prince's, so often gritty and sleazy, whereas Prince's sexy stuff so always seemed smooth and choreographed (not that I don't love Prince): Prince wanted you to know he was a serious musician, even though he had a gonzo sex drive. But Rick, at his best, was blown out and loose (even dangerous), hinting at unspeakable demons (apparently he really was a sexual superfreak). Sometimes I just like that better. -George Benson -- man, people who only know Benson for his pop-crossover stuff ("Breezin'") need to listen to his earlier stuff. "George Benson Cookbook" has jaw-droppingly nimble guitar work (a listen to "The Cooker" will silence all doubts), and "Beyond the Blue Horizon" is good from top to bottom, starting off with a killer cover of Miles's "So What." -Talking Heads -- my friend twisted my arm to listen to "Naked." Glad he did. "Blind" is a great latin-infused song, and "sax and violins" is one of the most affecting songs they ever did. Right up there with "Naive Melody."