Sound advice 

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Yeti Lane

Yeti Lane

Sonic Cathedral

Buy if you like: Syd Barrett, Cyann & Ben

French rock that doesn't suck — is that possible? Yeti Lane is the remaining three quarters of Cyann & Ben, a Parisian post-rock band that made no secret of its saucerful of shoegazer influences. This self-titled debut finds the surname-free trio —Charlie on drums and electronics, Ben and LoAc sharing vocal, guitar and synth duties — doing surprisingly well without frontwoman Cyann. Yeti Lane's psych-pop songs are more concise but no less dreamy than their predecessors, the hushed but passionate vocals recalling Game Theory, the Connells and Syd Barrett. Overall, the sound is consistently pleasing, although individual songs sometimes get a bit same-y. (Imagine a more jangly-guitar-centric Midnight Juggernauts.) Best to start with the most immediately accessible tracks — the perfectly poppy "Lonesome George," Brit folk-inflected "Heart's Architecture," and Morricone-tinged "Only One Look" — and then work your way from there. — Bill Forman

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Massive Attack



Buy if you like: Radiohead, Portishead, TV on the Radio

It's been a long seven years since its last full-length album, so British trip-hop production duo Massive Attack could be forgiven for being sleepy. The first half of Heligoland features guest vocals from longtime Attack players Martina Topley-Bird and Horace Andy, and while nobody would accuse them of unoriginality, this section suffers from affected lethargy and a kind of shrugging inconsequence. Heligoland regains a sense of sonic adventurousness near its end, first with the addition of Hope Sandoval to the fold — her one contribution, the cutesy, hand-clapping "Paradise Circus," provides smelling salts to the group's traditionally inventive instrumentation — and later on the Damon Albarn-guested "Saturday Come Slow," a lush and melancholy trip that stands as the album's sole home run. Closer "Atlas Air" returns Massive Attack's jutted-jaw sleaziness to the proceedings, but it comes far too late to claim victory for Heligoland. — Justin Strout

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Corinne Bailey Rae

The Sea


Buy if you like: Roberta Flack, Norah Jones

Corinne Bailey Rae's much-anticipated follow-up to her self-titled debut unfortunately fails to uphold the promise of its marvelous predecessor. Her mostly wistful delivery is rudely interrupted by the misguided "Closer," on which she goes for a pop/R&B flavor that makes her sound like so many Alicia Keyses (only not as beguiling) and only serves to detract from her distinctiveness. The fifth of 12 tracks, it also signals the album's subsequent descent into outright blandness. "The Blackest Lily" starts out promisingly enough, with its John Lennon-like guitars, but then ELO vocal effects creep in and make you wonder what Rae and her co-producer could have been thinking. Despite the monumental loss of her husband in 2008, there's little here that truly conveys the agony of that devastating experience. Although Rae does have her occasional lyrical moments, the music, sadly, is mostly forgettable — even boring. She can do better. — Lynne Margolis

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