Sound advice 

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Cee-Lo Green

The Lady Killer


Buy if you like: John Legend, Smokey Robinson

Green, one half of Gnarls Barkley, has already shown he's one of the more creative and unpredictable artists in a career that's so far shifted through hip-hop, pop, R&B and beyond. He's up to his usual eclectic tricks on The Lady Killer, once again proving he can navigate pretty much any style he chooses. "Bright Lights, Bigger City" goes for a sleek blend of pop and R&B that is indeed cosmopolitan. He evokes James Bond on "The Lady Killer Theme," while sounding more like "Shaft" on "Bodies." And then, of course, there's the cheerfully profane "Fuck You," which updates classic uptempo soul (as does the beautifully sung "It's OK"). While the roots here are definitely old school, the production and arrangements consistently sound sharp and timeless, making this a killer album for just about any genre or gender. — Alan Sculley

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Kings of Leon

Come Around Sundown


Buy if you like: Marah, U2

On Come Around Sundown, the guys in Kings of Leon decide they want to be U2. High on atmospherics and chiming guitars, rock's favorite pigeon-dodging purveyors of $100 bandanas are back in action with the exciting follow-up to 2008's smash, Only By the Night. Problem is, it's rarely exciting, and the lyrics are dumber than ever. But Caleb Followill's vocals do sound better than ever, and there are even a couple of noteworthy songs: "Mary," which is essentially '60s girl group gone Southern rock, and the slow, semi-raunchy "Mi Amigo." And there's enough country here to raise hopes that the band may yet move back to the rootsier sound that first won over its fanbase. As it is, Come Around Sundown is uninspired arena rock from about the only young band that's filling arenas. That's not exactly unexpected, but it's also not very interesting. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Quincy Jones

Q: Soul Bossa Nostra


Buy if you like: Michael Jackson, T.I.

The idea behind Q: Soul Bossa Nostra is to survey legendary producer Quincy Jones' career, redoing some of his most familiar songs with today's pop and hip-hop stars. It kicks off with Talib Kweli rapping over the original instrumental bed of the "Ironside" theme, and rambles on through 15 songs, ending with the "Sanford and Son" theme featuring, among others, T.I. Everything isn't necessarily beautiful: Jennifer Hudson can still over-sing with the best of them as she American Idolizes "You Put a Move on My Heart," while Amy Winehouse's contribution — a reworking of Leslie Gore's "It's My Party" — dramatically changes the feel of the '60s pop hit (not necessarily a bad thing). But guests like Snoop Dogg revel in paying tribute to Jones and, on the whole, the blend of classic Q with modern sounds and vocalists works just fine. — L. Kent Wolgamott


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