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Ry Cooder

The UFO Has Landed: The Ry Cooder Anthology

Rhino Records

Sounds like: A full-force gale of history and innovation

Short take: Cooder bops till he drops

Armed with guitar and mandolin, Ry Cooder set out to explore the milieu of old Southern blues as well as the Depression-era folk and country songs that defined a nation struggling for survival. And he did it with feeling: Listen to early tracks like "Alimony" or "Billy the Kid," and there's zero distance between the music and the man. That soulfulness can be found in every single song on this completely knocked-out collection, starting with his 1970s debut album right through to the recent I, Flathead release. Ry Cooder has continually been about discovery, learning how to grow and looking for those who can teach him something new. The journey never ends, and it's taken him all over the world. And now that The UFO Has Landed, who knows? His next stop might be outer space if they'll let him take his guitar and mandolin along. Bill Bentley


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The Cure

4:13 Dream

Geffen

Sounds like: Yesterdays balanced with tomorrows

Short take: The Cure keeps the dream alive

After contemplating retirement a while back, Robert Smith and the Cure have returned with the long-awaited 4:13 Dream. Let's cut to the chase with the declaration that this 13-track effort sounds exactly like what you would expect from the influential '80s underground act. At times brooding ("Freakshow") and bubbly ("The Only One"), the album is most notable for its guitar work, which often takes fans back to the all-time greatest breakup album, Disintegration. The real gems on the Cure's 13th studio album are "Underneath the Stars" and "This. Here and Now. With You." The former track is a slow-brewing mind-fuck replete with all of the quintessential Cure flourishes and crescendos, while the latter finds the act creatively dabbling in its popish ways without losing credibility. Nothing to cry about here. John Benson


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Pink

Funhouse

LaFace

Sounds like: Rediscovered pop magic

Short take: Pink gets the party started ... again

Although "So What" has become a ubiquitous hit single, there's a feeling that the raucous, Vans Warped-looking, adult contemporary-sounding Pink has become a clich of her "Get the Party Started" self. However, this image-over-substance issue surprisingly isn't a problem on Funhouse, which features copious amounts of catchy, skilled songwriting (sans Linda Perry). While the 12-track release is basically a "fuck you" to her ex-husband, the 30-year-old examines herself on tracks such as the mid-tempo anthem "Sober" and the alt-rocking "It's All Your Fault." On her last few albums, it appeared Pink was too bogged down in creating instant sing-alongs, with flat and uninspired results. Now creatively recharged with a personal crisis, Pink has gotten a new party started instead of trying to keep the old one alive. John Benson

  • Ry Cooder, The Cure, Pink.

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