Sound advice 

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Something for Everybody

Warner Bros.

Buy if you like: XTC, They Might Be Giants

Bands deciding to reunite have become as common as BP underestimating the amount of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. But when a group goes more than 20 years between albums, living up to expectations can be a challenge. Something for Everybody picks up where Devo left off. Sure, it's not as jarring and spastic synth-heavy as Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! came across in the early days, with songs like "Fresh," Watch Us Work It" and "Please Baby Please" ranking among the band's catchier tracks. But the quirkiness is still there, from the playful vocal approach of "What We Do" to the whacked-out synth melodies on "Sumthin'" and "Signal Ready." Whatever the demand may be for Devo 30 years after "Whip It," Something for Everybody has enough creativity and inspiration to be everything for someone. — Alan Sculley

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Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers



Buy if you like: Allman Brothers, Steely Dan

It's been eight years since Tom Petty released his music-biz diatribe, The Last DJ. Since then, he and his band have been busy rediscovering their mojo, which has manifested itself this time around in a series of jazz-blues tunes full of Allman Brothers influences ("Running Man's Bible," "First Flash of Freedom"), lots of soaring instrumental interludes — many of which come courtesy of guitarist Mike Campbell — and an all-around vibe that's more about groove than attitude. Petty's still got bones to pick, like the one about his unhappy relationship with his dad that's addressed in "Running Man's Bible." But the humidity-drenched "Lover's Touch," the back-porch blues visitations of tracks like "Takin' My Time" and "U.S. 41," and even the reggae-juiced "Don't Pull Me Over" all cast one heckuva spell. It's like "Breakdown" all over again. — Lynne Margolis

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New Inheritors

The Tom Kotter Company

Buy if you like: Midnight Oil, the Alarm

This Canadian group's debut, Welcome to the Night Sky, earned a Juno Award — the equivalent of a Grammy up that way — for best new band, and New Inheritors lives up to that promise. This sophomore effort boasts dramatic, often elegant music without sacrificing rock muscle. Songs like "Experience the Jewel," with its symphonic sweep, and the briskly anthemic "Black Camera" set a high standard that's rarely let down. The one drawback may be the lyrical content that, while often topical and cleverly written, can also get a bit cerebral and abstract. It's hard to imagine listeners singing along to repeated refrains of "stacks of government checks." But the undeniable power of Wintersleep's music more than compensates. On the whole, New Inheritors is one of 2010's more worthy albums to date, suggesting Wintersleep deserves to achieve big things. — Alan Sculley


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