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The Go! Team

Rolling Blackouts

Memphis Industries

Buy if you like: M.I.A., Tilly & the Wall

The soundtrack of our lives was sadly bereft of joy before the Go! Team showed up with its proprietary blend of funky dance-pop, Lalo Schifrin-style spy themes and, that unlikeliest of ingredients, marching band fight songs. Fueled by frontwoman Ninja's freestyle sass and instrumentalist Ian Parton's cascading drums, horns and electric guitars, the British prodigies quickly paved the way for genre-popping artists like M.I.A. and Sleigh Bells. Rolling Blackouts, the Go! Team's third album, offers an eclectic mix of future favorites, from the psychedelic-tinged shimmer of "Buy Nothing Day," with guest vocals from Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino, to the anthemic "Apollo Throwdown," which finds the group at its brassy Double-Dutch-Bus best. Meanwhile, the mostly instrumental "Yosemite Theme" and "Lazy Poltergeist" suggest a future in soundtracks, which may be why Parton has said this could be the group's swan song. Let's hope not. The Go! Team is far too good to let go. — Bill Forman

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Lucinda Williams

Blessed

Lost Highway

Buy if you like: Neko Case, Rosanne Cash

Even when she's counting blessings, Lucinda Williams sounds mournful, almost heartbroken. "We were blessed by the forlorn, forsaken and abused," she sings on Blessed's title tune. Yet, in a way, it's a happy song — as is "Kiss Like Your Kiss," despite the finality of its lovely words. Mortality is a recurring theme here, from the aching despair of "Don't Know How You're Living" to "Seeing Black," a song about friend Vic Chesnutt's suicide. And there's more: "Copenhagen" is about her former manager's death, while "Soldier's Song" is a devastating personalization of war. "From the cradle to the grave you will always be a slave to the quiet darkness of your memories," Williams desolately sings in "Ugly Truth." But "Sweet Love" is touching, and "Born to Be Loved" is downright uplifting. There's nothing lighthearted here, no rollicking rocker (though Elvis Costello's guitar in "Black" is pretty hot), but that doesn't matter. Williams' emotional eloquence is stunning. And beautiful. — Lynne Margolis

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Corinne Bailey Rae

The Love EP

Capitol

Buy if you like: Jill Scott, Musiq

Though they are often dull rehashes, cover records can occasionally be revelatory. Such is the case with The Love EP, a wide-ranging showcase for Corinne Bailey Rae's vocal versatility. This new five-song collection proves she can sing anything with style and emotion. She delivers a soothingly soulful take on Bob Marley's "Is This Love," turns Prince's "I Wanna Be Your Lover" into a synth-funk workout, and puts a haunting touch on the dark, pulsing rock balladry of Belly's "Low Red Moon." She also strips down Paul McCartney's "My Love" to its romantic core (eliminating all the syrup), and wraps things up with a live version of "Que Sera Sera," putting her own stamp on the standard by slowing it down and getting it all bluesy. My only criticism of The Love EP is that it's an EP. I'd have loved to have heard five more covers from Rae, who is simply superb. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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