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Sound Bites

Though I've been buying music at an alarming clip this year, lately I just haven't encountered any discs that are screaming for a full length review. BUT, here are some brief thoughts on what's been spinning in my head.

80. Teenage Fanclub - Man-Made
The Scottish rockers' 7th album is not as immediately satisfying as their previous two (1997's Songs From Northern Britain and 2001's Howdy), but give it time and you'll find their gifts for gentle melody and harmony are just as sparkling as ever. This band is a real treasure.

Grade: A
Fave Song: Flowing



81. Michael Penn - Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947
Mr.Aimee Mann is not prolific or flashy, but he is a craftsman. His first album since 2000 (only the fifth in his 19 year career) is another solid effort. Unfortunately it's also just as unexciting as the rest of his catalog. This one attempts a theme around events that happened in the title year. I can't really follow it, and I'm puzzled as to why there are two tracks of white noise (The Transistor and 18 September).

Grade: B-
Fave Song: On Automatic

82. Fall Out Boy - From Under The Cork Tree
You can never have enough emo. These guys love a long, funny song title (e.g. A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More "Touch Me"), but thankfully they keep the songs mostly serious. The album bops along singable and irresistible until it loses just a tiny bit of momentum on the thirteenth and final song.

Grade: B+
Fave Song: I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy And All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me

83. M.I.A. - Arular
Sometimes I wonder if critics will ever get tired of collectively going completely apeshit over a certain artist. For the music fan, hearing the actual album usually ends up feeling a empty after the avalanche of glowing reviews. But M.I.A. isn't your usual indie collective with oblique songs and an oboe player. Instead she's a British-by-way-of-Sri Lanka kitchen sink mix of dance, international, and hip-hop. It's definitely something new and arresting. U.R.A.Q.T. even appears to sample the Sanford and Son theme!

Grade: B
Fave Song: Bucky Done Gun

84. The Wallflowers - Rebel, Sweetheart
This album solidifies The Wallflowers as a trusty rock 'n' roll unit who can be counted on to produce quality albums. That's a rarity. While nothing is as thrilling as the best songs from Red Letter Days, it's a stronger album as a whole. The melodies are insinuating, and Jakob Dylan consistently shows a gift for clever turns of phrase ("who will ignore me when you're gone?"). Wonder where he got that?

Grade: A-
Fave Song: The Beautiful Side Of Somewhere

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