Sound Advice 

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The Resistance

Warner Bros.

Buy if you like: Emerson Lake & Palmer, Queen

British acts have long been known for ambitious, extravagant and sometimes over-indulgent albums. Just think of Queen, Pink Floyd and Radiohead. With The Resistance, Muse delivers on past albums' promises of future grandeur, with a wide-screen vision of epic proportions. It actually works. While the 11 tracks cover a lot of musical and thematic ground, the band's songwriting chops are equal to the scope. Songs range from the Depeche Mode-on-steroids wallop of "Uprising" to the three-part, album-closing "Exogenesis," nothing short of a symphonic suite with a full-blown orchestra augmenting what is, at its heart, a striking piano-based piece. In a year with several groups delving into rock opera (Green Day, the Decemberists), Muse has created the most lavish work — and one that will reward those willing to join the band on its expansive musical journey. — Alan Sculley

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Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson

Break Up


Buy if you like: A Fine Frenzy, the Swell Season

I haven't listened to anything but Break Up since I discovered the album a few weeks ago. Pete Yorn and actress Scarlett Johansson have made one of those kinds of albums. Just like the post-breakup emotions the songs try to convey, it's up, it's down, it's happy, it's sad. Though, perhaps more than anything, this indie rock project — recorded back in 2006 — is whimsical, quirky and catchy. Just try sitting still during the bouncy album opener, "Relator," or not swaying to the retro-tinged "I Don't Know What to Do" (think poodle skirts and the Stroll). Yorn and Johansson's voices on Break Up fit, ironically, like two lovers comfortably holding hands, even though the duets often lean more heavily on Yorn. The album's nine tracks (coming in under 30 minutes) bring to mind the rush of a love affair you don't ever want to break up. — Kirsten Akens

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The Hi–Nobles


Zaentz Records

Buy if you like: The Fleshtones, Paul Revere & the Raiders

Shake! takes the listener on a time trip back to the 1960s, an era when original frat/garage rockers like Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs and the Swingin' Medallions were cutting loose with Farfisa organs, clangy guitars and incessant dance beats. The Hi-Nobles don't really do much to update or advance the sounds on songs like "96 Tears" or "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)," but the band still has some things going for it. There's the husky voice of singer Scott Holderby, which immediately gives the Hi-Nobles an identifiable sound. The songwriting is also a cut above, as tracks like "Ain't No Sin" and "International Playboys" throw in nifty melodic and rhythmic turns. While the Hi-Nobles may seem stuck in a time warp at times, they've learned the lessons of their forefathers well, and clearly know how to raise the right kind of rock 'n roll ruckus. — Alan Sculley


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