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Buy if you like: Cam'ron, Asher Roth

Played out. That's the best way to describe Eminem and his new album, Relapse. He's still spewing venom, sex and violence on his first release in nearly five years. Then he turns around and whines for sympathy after his prescription drug habit (which is explained in detail) sent him into rehab. The offensive stuff is either designed to shock or to entertain, cartoon style, but it doesn't work anymore. Neither do his disses of passé celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Mariah Carey, nor continuing attacks on his mother. Eminem remains among the most talented rappers ever, with a sharp vocabulary and multi-faceted delivery set up by Dr. Dre's minimal but strong beats. That means things flow just fine. But the duo has failed to come up with a single great song on Relapse, which, in the end, is simply kind of boring. — L. Kent Wolgamott

Download the CD: Eminem - Relapse (Deluxe Version)


The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart


Buy if you like: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Silversun Pickups

The song "A Teenager in Love" sounds pretty much like what one would expect from its title: a pleasant, jangly pop tune framed by chiming bits of guitar and synthesizer and driven by a bouncy beat. But that's about the only such twee pop moment on this 10-song disc. Most of the time, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart cover their hooky songs in washes of grainy guitar (think the Jesus and Mary Chain, only with a bit less distortion) and pounding beats. The combination of noise and rhythm works well, giving songs like "Everything With You," "Come Saturday" and "Contender" a brittle edge that provides an appealing counterpoint to the bright pop melodies that consistently anchor the material. As for the more noiseless tracks, such as "Young Adult Friction" and "The Tenure Itch," they turn out to be every bit as addictive. — Alan Sculley

Purchase the CD: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Pains of Being Pure At Heart


The Black Crowes

Warpaint Live

Silver Arrow/Eagle Rock

Buy if you like: Faces, Rolling Stones

The Black Crowes' last studio CD, Warpaint, marked the band's return after a 2002 breakup (or hiatus, as the musicians themselves put it). The Crowes' new lineup, with only brothers Chris and Rich Robinson and drummer Steve Gorman returning, went out on tour playing the entire Warpaint CD, as if announcing a new era, a time to focus on the here and now, not the band's past work. True, the Crowes were asking crowds to indulge them by celebrating a relatively unfamiliar new CD, but at least Warpaint was one of their better albums. And the double-disc Warpaint Live goes a long way toward proving it, with crisp performances on which the band sounds truly engaged with the new material. The second disc's pairing of extra originals and some well-chosen covers, along with the classic "Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye," makes for a nice bonus. — Alan Sculley

Purchase the CD: The Black Crowes - Warpaint Live

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