Sound advice 

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Peter Wolf

Midnight Souvenirs


Buy if you like: Chuck Prophet, J. Geils Band

Peter Wolf has three outstanding duet partners — Shelby Lynne, Neko Case and Merle Haggard — but his co-writers help give depth; in addition to longtime pal Will Jennings, names like Angelo Petraglia and Chuck Prophet show up. Wolf sounds like Prophet on "Watch Her Move" and on their collaboration, "Overnight Lows," which nods to the Chi-Lites. (You feel he could bust into that soulful falsetto from "Have You Seen Her" at any second.) "There's Still Time" is as expressive as anything the former J. Geils Band frontman has done, strings adding an epic feel. "Thick as Thieves" is thick with swampy blues; "Then It Leaves Us All Behind" is richer, deeper and far more introspective-sounding than those fast-talkin', hot-rockin' soul raps of days gone by. Wolf and Haggard sound remarkably supple on the closer, "It's Too Late for Me." Clearly, it's not. — Lynne Margolis

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Buy if you like: Teenage Fanclub, the Black Lips

Hippies has nothing to do with hippies, Harlem is actually from Austin, Texas, and the garage pop the band makes has nothing to do with the New York neighborhood, either. Bashing out 16 songs in 40 minutes, the trio digs up hooks, repeats them a few times with jangly guitar, throws in some layered harmonies against loose rock 'n roll beats, (supplied by bass and drum, not machine), then moves on to the next tune. That makes for some of the best indie garage pop you're going to hear. Among the standout tracks are a 1-2-3 punch of the 90-second riff riot "Number One," the '60s pop "Be Your Baby," and the enigmatic "Gay Human Bones," which at 3 1/2 minutes is one of the disc's longest tracks. Hippies is loose and fast-moving and works the boy-girl lyric thing with some wit. None of that is anything new, but it sure is fun. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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The White Stripes

Under Great White Northern Lights

Warner Bros.

Buy if you like: Led Zeppelin, Link Wray

There may be nothing new under either the sun or the great white Northern Lights, but that doesn't matter when it comes to this live recording. The disc shows just how the White Stripes' repertoire, from "Blue Orchid" through "Seven Nation Army," gets kicked up live. The tempos increase with Jack White's guitar buzzing, screeching and flying around, his voice reedy and breathy, while Meg White's primal beats provide the drive. Recorded in Canada in 2007, this captures the White Stripes at their thundering peak, an hour's worth of passionate intensity and brutal rawness, connecting artist with audience in gritty, bluesy rock 'n roll. It's also available on DVD, which, if you've never seen the White Stripes live, is highly recommended. But the audio alone is enough to make you hope that Jack and Meg will reunite for more. Turn it up. — L. Kent Wolgamott


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