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Julian Casablancas

Phrazes for the Young

RCA

Buy if you like: The Strokes, the Libertines

There are only eight songs on this solo turn from the Strokes singer Julian Casablancas, but they manage to surprise and connect. The opening "Out of the Blue" has plenty of Strokes-like, droning, driving guitar as Casablancas moans, "I know I'm going to hell in a leather jacket." But there's a whole lot of synth on the track, and that instrument becomes the prime soundmaker for the rest of the record. Not that it turns away from garage rock; instead, it dresses it up in '80s dance-rock clothes, especially on the bubbling, irresistible single "11th Dimension," the rock 'n soul "4 Chords of the Apocalypse" and dark, clattering "River of Brakelights." ("Ludlow St." veers in a much different direction, a careening country drinking song complete with banjo.) Through it all, Casablancas' Iggy-style croon floats across the tracks, cool as ever. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Weezer

Raditude

DGC/Interscope

Buy if you like: Fountains of Wayne, Nada Surf

Weezer's latest is an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink affair that moves from sitar-tinged, Eastern-flavored rock on "Love is the Answer" to a club anthem called "Can't Stop Partying" that comes complete with its own rap break. Yet this seventh album — from a group that was singing about sweaters before Vampire Weekend wore their first knit pullovers — somehow more than holds up. Consistently catchy and entertaining, Raditude employs the same kind of adolescent themes the band has been indulging in for some 17 years now. True, main man Rivers Cuomo may be a bit old to still be exploring those kinds of subjects, but with the danceable beats and pop hooks that Weezer and special guests (including Jermaine Dupri, Lil Wayne and the All-American Rejects) have cooked up here, that really doesn't matter. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Bad Lieutenant

Never Cry Another Tear

Bad Lieutenant Music LLC

Buy if you like: R.E.M., Matthew Sweet

As a principal member of Joy Division and New Order, Bernard Sumner is famous for moody, downbeat synth-pop. But his new band, Bad Lieutenant, takes a different tack. This debut album from Sumner and cohorts Phil Cunningham and Jake Evans features rocking, guitar-based pop more similar to that of R.E.M. Turns out Sumner's been hiding a serious talent for accessible pop all along. "Twist of Fate" and "This Is Home" are brisk, packed with hooks, and dare it be said, upbeat-sounding, while "Dynamo" combines the expansiveness of U2 with a hint of The Who. On "Summer Days," the group shifts from jangling guitars to piano, but maintains the sharp melodic quality that defines the entire album. Bad Lieutenant will have to go a long way to even approach the status of Sumner's other bands, but this is a really promising start. — Alan Sculley

  • Julian Casablancas, Weezer, Bad Lieutenant

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