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Weezer Weezer (Red Album)
Geffen
Sounds like: Another batch of fist-in-air Weezer rockers

Short take: Cuomo and company deliver again

The gap between Pinkerton zealots and Rivers Cuomo pop-rock fans grows wider with Weezer's sixth studio release, Weezer (Red Album). The latest 10-track offering further continues the alt band's fascination with crunchy '80s rock sounds. Lead single "Pork and Beans" has an obligatory tongue-in-cheekiness and big hooks, with other notable tracks including the acoustic-based "Thought I Knew" and the late '80s vibe (hip-hop-lite vocals with loud guitar licks) of "Everybody Get Dangerous." However, the real marrow of Cuomo and company's genius has always been the slow guitar-jam anthem. Playing the role of "Say It Ain't So" on the Red Album is the simply sublime "The Angel and the One," which combines a mesmeric mid-tempo sound that crescendos into Cuomo singing along to a wailing guitar. While some may see red, the rest of us are feeling rosy with the Red Album. John Benson


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Robert Pollard Robert Pollard is Off to Business
Guided by Voices
Sounds like: The sunny outlook of clear skies and open highway

Short take: Pollard runs up odometer; somehow there's still gas in the tank

Robert Pollard has over 1,000 songs registered to his name, so there's little question the well of his songwriting reserve goes very deep; the tougher question is whether there's anything new down there. But this most recent release is novel, for a couple reasons. No longer with Merge, Pollard christens his own label Guided By Voices Inc. Only 10 songs and 35 minutes long, one of which is a (for Pollard) colossal 5:22, Off to Business is nevertheless musically familiar warm, well wrought and catchy as hell. And like most of his recent work, it's clean of GBV's characteristic lo-fi scrapes and fuzz. Pollard is struggling with the oppression of time, trying to capture (to borrow the title from this album's opening track) "The Original Heart." In the occasional great moment, he does. Kiernan Maletsky


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Bonnie "Prince" Billy Lie Down In the Light
Drag City
Sounds like: Indie folk icon drops the somber for sun-tinged country rock

Short take: A spontaneous treat

Bonnie "Prince" Billy, the musician/actor/artist known on IMDB as Will Oldham, has always prided himself on albums that capture unplanned moments. Avoiding rehearsal for in-the-moment spontaneity, there's been a ramshackle charm to much of Billy's output. But given the ruminative nature of many of his albums, that free-wheeling approach hasn't always been apparent, which makes Lie Down in the Light a minor revelation. Avoiding the overwhelmingly somber tone of recent efforts such as The Letting Go, Lie Down in the Light is positively breezy at points, bringing to mind the effortless country-rock of the Band. This isn't to say Billy has given up his trademark moan, but he's moved in a lighter direction. Billy draws upon previously used styles such as folk, country and blues to turn out a loose summer record with an enrapturing mixture of optimism and melancholy. Paul Davis

  • Weezer, Robert Pollard, Bonnie "Prince" Billy

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