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DeVotchKa A Mad & Faithful Telling
Anti- Records / Release date: March 18
Sounds like: At best, a Latin-influenced orchestra; at worst, carnie polka

Short take: Symphony and circus

DeVotchKa, a Denver band most widely known for its work on the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack, delivers beauties and clunkers on A Mad & Faithful Telling. The band succeeds with string-based tracks that bring to mind its well-known ballad "How It Ends." "Transliterator," the first single and strongest track, combines passionate vocals, a lively beat, strings and a bit of piano. Another standout, "Along the Way," shines with Latin-inspired guitars and horns with sparse violin accompaniment. However, the band struggles when it breaks out the tuba. "Basso Profundo," the opening track, is fit for a circus sideshow. The oom-pah-pah style used on "Blessing in Disguise" mimics carousel music. Some of the album merits a listen, but make sure the skip button on your CD player works. Meghan Loftus


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Snoop Dogg Ego Trippin'
Geffen
Sounds like: Old Doggs don't learn new tricks

Short take: More Doggy doo doo

Dear Snoop: Just so you know, we're big fans from the old haze, when "Gin & Juice" ran nonstop and the O.P. (Original Pimp) ruled the hip-hop nation. But listen, we just got done listening to Ego Trippin' and had to shed a tear. While "Been Around Tha World" has that old-school Snoop swagger, it's "Can't Say Goodbye" that's killing us. Aside from the overt attempt at credibility by adding into the mix a reverent gospel singer similar to casting Morgan Freeman as a moral compass in a Judd Apatow movie this ode to your past leaves us with a bad buzz. Also: The Johnny Cash shout-out, a rockin' country "My Medicine," has earnest intentions, but we prefer your pro-chronic anthems delivered with stoned-out vocals and smoky sounds. We know we can't go back, but you're making going forward even harder. John Benson


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Various Artists Now That's What I Call the 80s
Sony
Sounds like: Bits and pieces of a decade

Short take: Sequels, please

The American Now That's What I Call Music! people released their first compilation in October 1998. Since then, we've seen 26 additional discs more than 500 songs to represent a little less than 10 years of contemporary music. With that in mind, it seems unfair to release one 20-track compilation to represent the entire 1980s. But on Tuesday, that's what happened. Now That's What I Call the 80s includes some classics, like "Billie Jean," "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "Don't You (Forget About Me)," but it lacks many essentials. Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer," which VH1 named the greatest song of the '80s, misses the cut. Neither Prince nor Madonna appear on the disc, and it includes just one hair-metal song (Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again"). This compilation needs at least 26 follow-up discs to do justice to the decade. Meghan Loftus

  • DeVotchKa, Snoop Dogg, 1980s anthology

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