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click to enlarge Paul Weller  - Hit Parade  -  -  - Yep Roc / Release date: Jan. 23 -  -  - Sounds like: The best mix tape you'll ever own -  - Short take: New-wave innovator grows R&B - wings -  - While a massive music celebrity in the U.K., Paul Weller - suffers a stateside love relegated mostly to fans of the - early punk and new wave scene of the late '70s. - However, for the casual or unsuspecting music fan, this - engaging visionary's career mirrors that of Elvis Costello: - punky rabblerouser early, R&B and jazz sound explorer - later. It's this unique arc that makes Weller's new - retrospective Hit Parade an easy sell. Beginning - with the archetypical alt-rock "Come On/Let's Go" to the - more contemporary-sounding but no less fiery "Out of - the Sinking," there are plenty of past gems waiting to be - cherished once again. Don't miss out on the genius of - Weller.  John Benson
  • Paul Weller

    Hit Parade

    Yep Roc / Release date: Jan. 23

    Sounds like: The best mix tape you'll ever own

    Short take: New-wave innovator grows R&B wings

    While a massive music celebrity in the U.K., Paul Weller suffers a stateside love relegated mostly to fans of the early punk and new wave scene of the late '70s. However, for the casual or unsuspecting music fan, this engaging visionary's career mirrors that of Elvis Costello: punky rabblerouser early, R&B and jazz sound explorer later. It's this unique arc that makes Weller's new retrospective Hit Parade an easy sell. Beginning with the archetypical alt-rock "Come On/Let's Go" to the more contemporary-sounding but no less fiery "Out of the Sinking," there are plenty of past gems waiting to be cherished once again. Don't miss out on the genius of Weller. John Benson

click to enlarge Josh Groban  - With You  -  -  - Hallmark  -  - Sounds like: An intoxicating cocktail of - Spanish fly -  - Short take: Groban's broken heart will go on -  - Gentlemen, it's all about the booty call. Whether you're - laying the groundwork for a late-night visit to an - acquaintance or an early night soire with your - significant other, Josh Groban has the hook-up for you: - the Valentine's Day-only release With You. The - eight-song EP includes two new tracks, the heart- - drenched "My Heart was Home Again" and the title track. - Plus, the album is only available in Hallmark stores, so - there are plenty of reminders to pick up a card while - you're there. While often sappy, Groban's style does - possess a certain classiness missing from pop radio. - More importantly, remember that Oprah loves him, - women swoon for him and his watered-down mix of pop - and classical music could be worse (see: Michael Bolton). -  John Benson
  • Josh Groban

    With You

    Hallmark

    Sounds like: An intoxicating cocktail of Spanish fly

    Short take: Groban's broken heart will go on

    Gentlemen, it's all about the booty call. Whether you're laying the groundwork for a late-night visit to an acquaintance or an early night soire with your significant other, Josh Groban has the hook-up for you: the Valentine's Day-only release With You. The eight-song EP includes two new tracks, the heart- drenched "My Heart was Home Again" and the title track. Plus, the album is only available in Hallmark stores, so there are plenty of reminders to pick up a card while you're there. While often sappy, Groban's style does possess a certain classiness missing from pop radio. More importantly, remember that Oprah loves him, women swoon for him and his watered-down mix of pop and classical music could be worse (see: Michael Bolton). John Benson

click to enlarge Lily Allen  - Alright, Still  -  -  - Capitol / Release date: Jan. 30 -  -  - Sounds like: Happier versions of other songs -  - Short take: It's goofy, but is the joke on us? -  - The "Queen of MySpace," Lily Allen, turned her Web page - into a record deal. But unlike the like-minded failures - before her, Allen's got the voice to back her stargazing - dreams. Her U.S. debut, Alright, Still, is a - joyous, bouncy romp through her day-to-day life. It's a - fun listen  don't get me wrong  but there's a - disturbing undercurrent here: "Everything's Just - Wonderful" has a backtrack eerily similar to Outkast's - "Hey Ya," and "Littlest Things" is a clear ripoff of - Radiohead's "Karma Police." Shocked? Wait until Allen - throws you another curveball, openly admitting that "Nan - You're a Window Shopper" is a tribute to 50 Cent's - "Window Shopper." So now she's being honest? - Is this all a joke? It's so tough to tell with the Brits! -  Pete Freedman
  • Lily Allen

    Alright, Still

    Capitol / Release date: Jan. 30

    Sounds like: Happier versions of other songs

    Short take: It's goofy, but is the joke on us?

    The "Queen of MySpace," Lily Allen, turned her Web page into a record deal. But unlike the like-minded failures before her, Allen's got the voice to back her stargazing dreams. Her U.S. debut, Alright, Still, is a joyous, bouncy romp through her day-to-day life. It's a fun listen don't get me wrong but there's a disturbing undercurrent here: "Everything's Just Wonderful" has a backtrack eerily similar to Outkast's "Hey Ya," and "Littlest Things" is a clear ripoff of Radiohead's "Karma Police." Shocked? Wait until Allen throws you another curveball, openly admitting that "Nan You're a Window Shopper" is a tribute to 50 Cent's "Window Shopper." So now she's being honest? Is this all a joke? It's so tough to tell with the Brits! Pete Freedman

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