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Tokyo Police Club Elephant Shell
Saddle Creek
Sounds like: 2008's indie newbie of note

Short take: Brit-pop for the masses

Tokyo Police Club's debut full-length, Elephant Shell, melds tuneful hooks, sassy vocals and alt rock vibes into a post-punk world of grandiosity. The Canadian act actually meets the expectations thrust upon it after its surprisingly popular 2006 EP A Lesson in Crime. What seems to have paid off for the quartet is the notion of honing its sound, which it did by playing hundreds of shows (including Coachella and Glastonbury) over the past year. Tracks such as the synth-friendly "Graves" and the off-kilter "The Harrowing Adventures of ..." are tightly constructed gems. "Tessellate" is the best example of Tokyo Police Club's presence: An orchestrated anthem of cacophonic sounds (a high hat drum drives home the beat) and melancholic melodies, it's cast with an '80s vibe that manages to not sound dated. Elephant Shell is built to last. John Benson
To Download: Tokyo Police Club

Tim Fite Fair Ain't Fair
Anti- Records / Release date: May 6
Sounds like: Modest Mouse vocals, all kinds of instrumentation

Short take: A Chinese food menu in album form

Fair Ain't Fair, is bizarre, yet coherent. Tim Fite's opening track, "Roots of a Tree," lays spoken lyrics and speech samples over a piano waltz. One of the album's upbeat standouts, "More Clothes," critiques materialism by combining whistling, an electronic bass line, and lyrics like, "Wipe that mustard off your titty / While you're at it go and buy a new jacket / Down in douche-bag city." "My Hands" resembles a country-western dirge, with plodding, twangy guitar, choral vocals and a gradual climb toward a passionate ending. The hip-hop/folk artist also succeeds with acoustic guitar and vocals on more traditional tracks, like "Big Mistake" and "Thought I Was a Gun." Fair Ain't Fair offers something for everyone, but appeals most to those who like a little of everything. Meghan Loftus
To Download: Tim Fite

Fall Out Boy Live in Phoenix
Sounds like: A tween's sleepover soundtrack

Short take: Banal, just like in concert

Fall Out Boy may have officially left behind the emo tag with its latest R&B-inspired platinum album Infinity on High, but the Chicago-based act has other pending issues. Specifically, the decision to release the CD/DVD concert album Live in Phoenix. What's truly amazing and scary is not only how the band's entire catalog seemingly runs together like a six-pack of Krispy Kremes, but how its concert skills are rudimentary at best. The Pete Wentz-led outfit blasts through "Sugar, We're Goin Down" and "Dance, Dance" with all the sincerity of a karaoke performer. Add in a studio cover of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" for youthful irreverence and kitsch, and Fall Out Boy pretty much lives up to its plastic image on Live in Phoenix. This begs the prediction that its audience's maturation will ultimately trip the band's downfall into obscurity. John Benson
To Download: Fall Out Boy

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