Sound Advice 

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Jessica Lea Mayfield
With Blasphemy So Heartfelt
Polymer Sounds / Release date: Sept. 16

Sounds like: Mazzy Star after a breakup
Short take: Black Keys' protege worth watching

Those who saw Lucero's recent opening act at the Black Sheep will recall 18-year-old Jessica Lea Mayfield strumming wildly and periodically sidling up to brother David's stand-up bass. They're apt rock-star poses for an enormously talented artist whose debut, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt, was produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach. (She also has the distinction of being the first guest vocalist ever on a Black Keys album.) As melancholic as a Billy Corgan release, WBSH is much prettier, with lyrics more haunting. Her mature songs conjure images of spurned love and the like, with lots of kissing and a bitter, passion-hungry undercurrent. "I'll kiss you like I want you to kiss me," she sings on "We've Never Lied," "and I'll talk to whoever I goddamn wanna." Other soulful tracks like "Bible Days" give the album an urgency of, well, biblical proportions. Matthew Schniper

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Metallica Death Magnetic
Warner Brothers / Release date: Sept. 12

Sounds like: An old Metallica cassette
Short take: Diehards get their apology

Back in 1996, I sat at my friend Steve's kitchen table, huddled near an old radio, waiting to hear the first track of Load. Steve's head hit the table after the first sheepish chords of "Until It Sleeps" and stayed there until it ended. For 12 years, I've been waiting for Metallica to apologize. It's happened. New producer Rick Rubin brought back the drop-D chords and double bass kick for the ... And Justice For All-inspired first single "My Apocalypse," plus seven-minute songs, the original logo on the album cover and the band's first instrumental (a Misfits-inspired one, at that) in two decades. Granted, the "Fade to Black"-ish "The Day that Never Comes" and a piano-heavy "The Unforgiven III" can get a bit tedious. But the covering-fire drums and dramatic downturn of "Blackened" clone "Cyanide" erase some of the sting of 2003's St. Anger. Justice has been served. Jason Notte

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Steve Wynn
Crossing Dragon Bridge
Rock Ridge Music

Sounds like: Unplugging for the better
Short take: Different Wynn, different dream

Cherished as a decidedly fierce indie rocker, Dream Syndicate founder Steve Wynn has taken time away from current band Miracle 3 to release Crossing Dragon Bridge. Whereas his last solo album, 2001's Here Come the Miracles, was a loud-guitar-and-crunching-chords affair, this finds Wynn in an often subdued, highly reflective, indie folk mood. The lead track, "Manhattan Fault Line," is adorned with a lush string section that instantly creates affable grandiosity and kicks off the disc in a rousing fashion. The fact Wynn recorded the 13 tracks in Slovenia can't be ignored. While its depth may or may not reflect a yearning for his Big Apple home, there's no question Wynn's musicality and sensitivity to nuance come through with newfound clarity on tracks like the roots-rocking "Annie & Me" and the exquisitely haunting "She Came." John Benson


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