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Sound Advice

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Future Clouds & Radar

Peoria

Star Apple Kingdom

Sounds like: Lennon, ELO, GBV

Short take: FC&R follow up a masterpiece

Last year, Future Clouds & Radar debuted with an ambitious and eponymous double disc that met adoring critics and an oblivious public. Its musical touchstones were audacious: the bittersweet edginess of John Lennon, the elevated arrangements of Roy Wood and ELO, the effortless excess of Guided By Voices. Now, former Cotton Mather leader Robert Harrison and his Austin accomplices return with an album that revisits much the same terrain. Standouts "Old Edmund Ruffin" and "Mummified" are achingly beautiful heirs to the Lennon/McCartney legacy, while "The Mortal" slips unexpected slices of electronica into the mix. It's not necessarily obvious on first listen, but most of the eight tracks are worthy successors to the group's debut. Newcomers may want to start at the beginning, but the rest of us will be glad to add Peoria to our collections. Bill Forman


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Gringo Star

All Yall

My Anxious Mouth Records

Sounds like: Atlanta goes Anglo

Short take: Handclaps, tambourines optional

Even as Damon Albarn floats the idea of a Blur reunion, new bands continue to step into the breach. Among the best is Gringo Star, Atlanta garage popsters who may not employ the Cockney accent of early Blur it would be weird if they did but show a similar mastery of the wry three-minute pop confection. Like many of today's post-emo rock bands, the group wears its Kinks influence on its sleeve with songs like "All Yall" and "Take a Walk." The title track serves as a perfect introduction, with its Dave Davies-style opening riff, killer chorus and even a righteous bridge. The less identifiably influenced "Black Night," a paisley underground-ish "Up and Down" and the hit-worthy "Transmission" (not the Joy Division song) are also good fun. Produced by Ben H. Allen (Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective), All Yall isn't all great, but it's definitely getting there. Bill Forman


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Greg Dulli

Live at Triple Door

Infernal Recordings

Sounds like: Afghan Whig unplugs

Short take: Greg Dulli reinvents himself

Recorded late last year in Seattle, Greg Dulli's Live at Triple Door offers a unique perspective on the charismatic singer's intriguing career. As founder of the Afghan Whigs, one of the few 1990s Sub Pop Records signings that maintained underground status, the Ohio native created an indie rock sound that bounced among soul, R&B, country and even punk. Now, Dulli has found a comfort zone as an indie artist with the Twilight Singers and part-time rocker with Mark Lanegan in the Gutter Twins. Dulli presents all of the above in intimate fashion on this 11-track release, which forces the singer-keyboardist to be less of a soul man and more of a singer-songwriter. It's that intimacy that makes these versions of "Tonight," "Candy Cane Crawl" and "That's Just How That Bird Sings" so irresistibly magical. John Benson

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