Sound advice 

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Arcade Fire

The Suburbs


Buy if you like: U2, David Bowie

Arcade Fire has largely put away the anthemic bombast that in the past earned the Montreal indie pop collective comparisons to Bruce Springsteen and U2. True, there are still nods to David Bowie, swings toward Neil Young and touches of the Cure. But there are no real anthems this time around, only a couple fast, punkish numbers and a tendency toward mid-tempo songs that might be fairly samey if they weren't so smartly written. Régine Chassagne, Win Butler's wife, handles lead vocals on a few songs, including the stripped-down, violin-laden "Empty Room," which is among the record's most gripping. (Her voice tends to connect more immediately than Win's.) Ultimately, The Suburbs is an album meant to be listened to as an album, not just as a collection of songs. Arcade Fire wants an hour of your time, and it's well worth it. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Esperanza Spalding

Chamber Music Society

Heads Up

Buy if you like: Nancy Wilson, Flora Purim

Esperanza Spalding is an amazing vocalist, bassist and songwriter. She's stunning and charming, a joy to watch live, exactly the kind of young talent that gives jazz a secure future. As for her own future, it seems limitless. Which is why it's odd she chose to follow her American debut, Esperanza, with an album that concentrates so heavily on scatting that it takes a while to truly connect. (That's no problem on "Apple Blossom," her sublime duet with Milton Nascimento, or on "Winter Sun," which also contains lovely lyrics and marvelous piano work from Leo Genovese.) As strong a wordsmith as she is, Spalding should incorporate more of them — in English, Portuguese or whatever other languages she's been known to adopt. The multi-lingual vocal interplay with Gretchen Parlato — as Spalding's bass weaves elegantly between their notes — on the song "Inútil Paisagem" is thoroughly charming. More of this, please. — Lynne Margolis

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All Night Long

Eleven Seven Music

Buy if you like: Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith

Buckcherry parties like it's 1989 on All Night Long, beginning with the swaggering title tune, a song that revisits the heyday of L.A. glam rock. Next comes the thundering "It's a Party," which is at least a little bit Aerosmith; "Recovery," which recalls Mötley Crüe; and "Liberty," which dives into Guns N' Roses territory, complete with Josh Todd's vocals verging on Axl Rose's whine. Just to make sure all the '80s rock cliches are in place, "These Things" and "I Want You" come close to power ballad status, albeit a little more revved-up than standard for the formula. If you get the two-disc package, the second seven-song set is all acoustic, exactly what Guns N' Roses did a couple decades ago. In other words, there's really nothing close to new on All Night Long, only competent recycling of songs that had their day decades ago. — L. Kent Wolgamott


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