Sound Advice 

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Modest Mouse

No One's First, and You're Next

Epic Records

Buy if you like: Built to Spill, Death Cab for Cutie

While it would be easy to view this compilation of b-sides and unreleased material as nothing more than a stopgap until Modest Mouse's next studio album, these eight tracks offer much more than throwaway material. A collection of leftover songs from the band's 2004 Good News for People Who Love Bad News and 2007's We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank albums, the set ends up feeling as cohesive as any of Modest Mouse's others. Visionary Isaac Brock's quirky, crackling, often high-pitched and slightly over-the-top vocals shine on "Autumn Beds," a gingerly banjo-driven mid-tempo track that pitters and patters with a back-porch feel. The banjo reappears along with boisterous horns and calming strings on "King Rat," while the centerpiece track is "The Whale Song," full of trippy guitar work and off-kilter sonic ingredients. All in all, this compilation is heavy on nuggets and light on duds. — John Benson

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The Hooters

Both Sides Live

Hooters Music

Buy if you like: The Jayhawks, Golden Smog

Who knew that after 25 years, the Hooters could still sound not only exciting, but relevant? Or at least not anachronistic (except for occasional forays into cloying Celtic music or trite lyrics, which won't fly in any era). Maybe a typically tracked studio album wouldn't carry the day, but on this live two-fer — one a big Electric Factory show, the other an intimate, live-in-studio acoustic recording — not even the synth flourishes sound dated, much less the melodica that gave the band its name. Rob Hyman, Eric Bazilian and company can still hit the notes, still sing the harmonies — their version of "The Boys of Summer" almost outdoes Don Henley's — and still rock out. "All You Zombies" says as much now as when they wrote it; the mandolin- and dobro-driven acoustic version is actually even more dynamic. The Hooters were quite probably the biggest rock-pop band ever to come out of Philly. It's good to hear them again. — Lynne Margolis

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Delbert McClinton

Acquired Taste

New West

Buy if you like: Jimmy Reed, Bobby "Blue" Bland

After so many years as a roadhouse romper-stomper, Texas native Delbert McClinton is channeling a jazzier, bluesier sound. It's a refreshing change. There's maturity and depth in most of these Don Was-produced tunes, many co-written with band member Kevin McKendree (whose piano is a consistent highlight) and longtime co-author Gary Nicholson. An old pro at creating a party vibe, McClinton gets right down to it with a take-off on "Shortnin' Bread" called "Mama's Little Baby." "Do It" adds some funk to the mix, while "Starting a Rumor" and "Out of My Mind" stir in some slow blues. But it's future radio and set staples like "People Just Love to Talk" and "Cherry Street" that really get the good times rolling. McClinton is almost 70, and his voice carries some of these tunes better than others. But this latest album offers proof, if any was needed, that the thrill is far from gone. — Lynne Margolis


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