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My Morning Jacket



Buy if you like: The Flaming Lips, Band of Horses

After the 2008 success of Evil Urges, Circuital returns My Morning Jacket to a warmer, more "band-like" sound. As the title implies, the aim is to take the 13-year-old Kentucky band full circle, away from more electronic sounds and back to its Southern-styled roots. But in the end, it's not that big of a change — or all that captivating. Opening with a pair of jammed-out, six-minute-plus numbers, the disc includes some experimentation, most notably on "Holdin' on to Black Metal," a Thai-pop mashup, and a great ballad "Wonderful (The Way I Feel)" that sets Jim James' high vocals amid finger-picked guitars. But the rest of the songs are sleepy and undistinguished, rarely making you curious enough to figure out what they're about — which seems to be growing up and finding a place in the world. — L. Kent Wolgamott


Thurston Moore

Demolished Thoughts


Buy if you like: Beck, Neil Young

Thurston Moore's fourth solo album is a departure from the sound of his band. There are no electric guitars; no scraping, high-volume assault; and no Kim Gordon, his wife and Sonic Youth collaborator. Instead, Moore has teamed up with Beck to make an acoustic album that is gorgeous and edgy. He still tunes his guitars in strange ways. He still writes in familiar structures —"Circulation" sounds like a lost SY tune that got unplugged. The songs, which coo, shimmer and drone, still surge with intensity, with Moore getting assists from Samara Lubelski's violin and Mary Lattimore's harp. But lyrically, Demolished Thoughts is reflective and observational — with lots of songs about love, both lost and found. All nine of them work perfectly together, creating an album that deserves to be listened to as such, over and over. — L. Kent Wolgamott


Sam Roberts Band


Rounder Records

Buy if you like: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, the Wallflowers

During a decade-long career, Sam Roberts has won six Juno awards (Canada's Grammys), including Album of the Year for 2004's We Were Born in a Flame and two wins each for Artist of the Year and Rock Album of the Year. Collider might get him some attention in the States. Working with respected indie rock producer Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Gomez), Roberts and his band have created a record filled with tuneful and just-tough-enough songs. "Without a Map" rocks gently behind a loping beat, "The Last Crusade" offers up some sass in its soulful feel and honking horns, and "I Feel You" attacks deliberately, but forcefully, behind its jagged guitar chords. Whether U.S. radio warms to the Sam Roberts Band remains to be seen, but a release this good should open some eyes. — Alan Sculley

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