Sound Advice 

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1320 Records
Sounds like: Background music at a used CD store

Short take: STS9 can't capture live magic

You have to give STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) props for attempting to recreate its mind-bending live performances which interpolate funk, jazz and hip-hop moments with rock structures into recorded studio form. Tantamount to a skydiver jumping off a diving board hoping for the same adrenaline rush, the fourth STS9 studio effort Peaceblaster offers plenty of interesting soundscapes (the mellow "Metameme" and still mellower "The Spectacle"), but the results rarely vary. "The New Soma" gets trippy with its razor keyboard sounds, and "Squishface," which we'd swear was at times ripping off the '70s TV series Charlie's Angels theme song, comes closest to giving you a contact high, but the 15-track album never transcends background music status. Live, STS9 is rarely boring. Recorded, STS9 is rarely noticeable. John Benson
To download: STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) - Peaceblaster

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Black Kids
Partie Traumatic
Columbia Records / Release date: July 22
Sounds like: British alternative aerobics

Short take: A dance, dance revolution

It took Brazil's Cansei de Ser Sexy to revive dance pop and France's Justice to bring it back to the masses, but nobody saw a bunch of kids from Jacksonville, Fla., putting it all together. Word of this party spread after this album debuted in the U.K. and the Depeche Mode-meets-Robert Smith single "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You" leaked here. From the Cure-flavored "Hit the Heartbrakes" to guitar-driven disco showstopper "Look at Me (When I Rock Wichoo)," Black Kids make wannabes like the Bravery cringe with envy. But it's clever lyrical turns such as "Hello, this is your body / What do you want, my body / I want to feel somebody on me," from "Listen to Your Body Tonight," that keep the band from aping its influences and may well end up influencing others. Jason Notte
To download: Black Kids - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You - Single

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Dr. Dog
Fate Park
the Van Records / Release date: July 22
Sounds like: Classic rock jam band fans

Short take: Dr. Dog's bark offers memorable bite

A heavy Fab Four love has permeated (or haunted) the majority of Dr. Dog releases for nearly a decade, yet redundancy and obsequiousness have never been an issue. The Philadelphia quintet keeps the streak alive with its fifth studio offering, Fate, an 11-track effort that again steers clear of indulgent ass-kissing. Sure there are "Sgt. Pepper's"-like arrangements on "My Friend" and you can't help but hear "Hey Jude" piano chords and singer Scott "Taxi" McMicken channeling a bluesy John Lennon on "From." But the outfit succeeds in taking the music into a realm that, if not new, is decidedly creative and interesting. Notable digressions include the amazingly soulful "Army of Ancients" and Dead-heavy "Hang On." More importantly, Dr. Dog finally has brought a cohesive flavor to an album that bodes well for the band's future. John Benson
To download:Dr. Dog


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