Sound Advice 

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Silversun Pickups



Sounds like: A sophisticated take on '90s angst

Short take: Like their songs, this band is building to something

"We are ready for the siege / and we are armed up to the teeth," warns Silversun Pickups singer Brian Aubert at the beginning of "The Royal We," as if to say: Yeah, we're shoegazers, but we'll kick your ass. Yes, they will. Like Smashing Pumpkins and Coheed and Cambria before them, SSP's second full-length album lulls listeners before hitting them with blunt force. Melancholy lyrical turns in "Growing Old is Getting Old" are assaulted by Mudhoney fuzz riffs and subtle screams, while "It's Nice to Know You Work Alone" and "There's No Secrets This Year" build into pseudo-fugues. The subtly funky bassline on "Panic Switch" is overcome by distortion and cymbal clash. It's hard to know if the band's spare '90s-style rage is a throwback or a harbinger, but Swoon makes it clear SSP will be around long enough for us to figure it out. — Jason Notte

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Sounds like: Happy Euro-synths on parade

Short take: Norwegian electronica duo takes back the dance floor

Norwegian synthesists Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge largely suppress instrumental urges on this disco-tinged electronica CD featuring no fewer than three Swedish female vocalists (Robyn, Lykke Li and the Knife's brilliantly distinctive Karin Dreijer Andersson). Fans of Air will favor atmospheric pop tracks like "You Don't Have a Clue," while the octave-bouncing synths of "The Girl and the Robot" and "This Must Be It" wouldn't sound out of place on an old Visage (or new Ladytron) album. On the whole, this is less sonically insidious than some of the duo's earlier work, but ample nuance still lurks beneath its shimmering surfaces. There's also an in-your-face lead bassline on "Vision One" that makes even the most acid-housed Roland 303 sound tame by comparison. All in all, a perfect synthetic soundtrack for summer days to come. — Bill Forman

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Condo Fucks



Sounds like: Indie rock gets down and dirty

Short take: Yo La Tengo indulges in lo-fi garage rock

Just as Facebook reconnects you with your past, Fuckbook brings music fans back to their rock and punk roots. This album from Yo La Tengo side project Condo Fucks sounds like it was recorded for $1.90 on a four-track tape recorder, but it covers a lot of ground and sound. There's the punkish "Dog Meat," the Beach Boys-meets-Chuck Berry "Shut Down" and the Teenage Fanclub-esque "With a Girl Like You." The cornerstone track is "So Easy Baby," a pure garage rock joint built around an early '60s sound the Rolling Stones could have cut their teeth on. Making it more endearing, the band screwed up the opening, but left the bad take on the album. With teen blemishes exposed for the world to see, Condo Fucks doesn't appear to give a fuck. Which is why Fuckbook swaggers like a DIY gem. — John Benson


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