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Sound Advice

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Magic Slim and the Teardrops

Raising the Bar

Blind Pig

Buy if you like: Muddy Waters, Magic Sam

Magic Slim and the Teardrops come out charging on Raising the Bar, with biting guitars and Slim's gritty vocals driving the opening "Part Time Love." Ten songs later, this latest album from the Mississippi-born, 70-something Chicago bluesman winds up with the traditional slow shuffle of "Treat Me the Way You Do." In between, Slim, whose real name is Morris Holt, and his band run the gamut of blues styles and themes, from the ache of "Cummins Prison Farm" through the lascivious "Mama Talk to Your Daughter" to a killer take on Robert Nighthawk's "Gonna Move to Kansas City." Three of the songs are originals: the walkin' shake of "Do You Mean It," the edgy groove-driven "Shame" and the closer, "Treat Me the Way You Do." All are pure Chicago blues, of which Magic Slim is one of the last living masters. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Band of Horses

Infinite Arms

Fat Possum/Columbia

Buy if you like: My Morning Jacket, Rogue Wave

Band of Horses' potential was immediately apparent on its 2006 debut, Everywhere All the Time, and even more so on the 2007 follow-up, Cease to Begin. Those albums established the group's appealing signature sound: ringing vocal melodies and chiming guitars that carry on a musical tradition that dates back to the Byrds. But with Infinite Arms, Band of Horses is truly coming into its own. The opening "Factory," with its lush string-laden arrangement, has a graceful and spacious dimension, while country influences take center stage on the easygoing Jayhawks-style gem "Older." The band successfully goes for more of a delicate and spare sound on "Evening Kitchen." Meanwhile, songs like "Compliments," "Laredo" and "NW Apt." prove the Horses can still rock. So saddle up, because this band's hitting the trail for what promises to be a long and successful ride. — Alan Sculley

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The Rolling Stones

Exile on Main Street

Hip-O

Buy if you like: The Faces, the Black Crowes

The Rolling Stones' 1972 masterpiece is here, reissued in three versions: a remastered disc of the original record, a two-CD "deluxe" package that adds 10 "new" songs, and a "super deluxe" set that includes a vinyl LP, DVD and coffee table book (for just $180). The remastered album is a shade brighter and crisper than the previous vinyl and CD releases, but it doesn't lose that essential basement grime. Exile connects viscerally, which can't be said for most albums from four decades ago. Meanwhile, the 10 previously unreleased songs were outtakes for a reason. Of the lot, only "Plundered My Soul" would have been a serious threat to make the final version of Exile, a double album that has come to be considered the Stones' best album — and arguably, the top rock 'n roll disc of all time. This newest version simply confirms that fact. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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