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Moonface

Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped

Jagjaguwar

Buy if you like: Sunset Rubdown, Julian Cope

It may not be Wolf Parade like you'd hoped (the Canadian indie heroes are on indefinite hiatus) but frontman Spencer Krug's one-man side project, Moonface, has its moments. This quirky, expansive and altogether accessible electro-pop album dispenses with guitars, drums and, one suspects, vibraphones. But it's Krug's vocalizing — a melodramatic hybrid of John Foxx, David Bowie and Tom Verlaine — that makes Wolf Parade and his other band, Sunset Rubdown, so immediately recognizable anyway. And unlike most electronic musicians, Krug can actually play keyboards, giving form and variety to 7½-minute synthedelica like "Shit-Hawk in the Snow" and the Casio-kitsch of "Return to the Violence of the Ocean Floor." Minimalist synth-pop fans who don't mind detours into spacier, more improvisatory terrain should find much to like here. — Bill Forman

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Robert Ellis

Photographs

New West

Buy if you like: Dwight Yoakam, Buck Owens

Like Justin Townes Earle, Robert Ellis has time-traveled from a different era when Buck Owens and the Bakersfield sound ruled country airwaves. Ellis' songs sound so vintage, you might think they're actual Owens or George Jones covers, but this Houston native's snapshots are all originals. He starts off gently, almost primitively, with "Friends Like These," "Bamboo" and the elegantly string-laden "Cemetery." Even the somewhat-happy "Two Cans of Paint" isn't exactly upbeat, the softly sung tale of relationship negotiations taking its time to sink in, accompanied by traces of honky-tonk and a suggestion of vaudeville. About halfway through, he literally takes a "Westbound Train," and then he's California-gone, with a voice that's pure and true, and a heart full of country that will grow on you. — Lynne Margolis

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Fountains of Wayne

Sky Full of Holes

Yep Roc

Buy if you like: Squeeze, The 88

In second-generation power pop, Fountains of Wayne have a track record tough to beat. But on the New York group's new album, Fountains dial back the wattage, forgoing a big part of their signature sound. Songs like "The Summer Place," "Cold Comfort Flowers" and "Acela" are awash with acoustic guitars and easygoing tempos. But while the power may be subdued, the pop is much in evidence, as are the irresistible melodies. Also present: the distinctive sense of humor and way with words that brought you past gems like "California Sex Lawyer" and "Half a Woman." There's poignancy in "A Road Song" and "Action Hero." Even if the mellower vibe disappoints a few, Sky Full of Holes proves again that Fountains of Wayne are among our most reliable sources for finely crafted pop. — Alan Sculley

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