Sound advice 

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The King of Limbs


Buy if you like: Flaming Lips, Bjork

Even though it has only eight songs totaling 37 minutes, The King of Limbs is one of Radiohead's best albums ever, right up there with Kid A and OK Computer. It's creepy, weird and dark, and while there are more breakbeats than guitars, don't expect to be hearing it at the clubs anytime soon. Thom Yorke's vocals croon, fly and slip into an eerie falsetto on "Lotus Flower," the album's mid-point peak, which is followed by "Morning Mr. Magpie," a song of romantic loss. Things are at their funkiest on the bass-driven "Little by Little" and "Feral," the latter the danciest track on the record. Slow numbers include the sadly beautiful "Separator" and the gorgeous ballad "Codex," which washes a string section around a stately piano. As always with Radiohead, it's hard to suss everything out precisely, but that doesn't make this album any less haunting or rewarding. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Paul Pigat

Boxcar Campfire

Little Pig Records

Buy if you like: Dave Alvin, Kris Kristofferson

Listening to Paul Pigat's Boxcar Campfire, you could be excused for mistaking the Canadian singer-songwriter Paul Pigat for veteran roots rocker Dave Alvin. Like the former guitarist and songwriter for the Blasters, Pigat has a rough but expressive baritone voice and a talent for crafting memorable songs that easily draw upon Woody Guthrie-style folk, traditional country, blues and early rock 'n roll. Pigat rolls along at full speed through "Lonesome Whistle," has a few laughs on "Corn Liquor," and shows a thoughtful, gentle side on both the solo acoustic "Troubled Mind" and the exceedingly pensive "Storm Song." He also plugs in his guitar, albeit for just one track on "Tortured," which fits a slow, salty blues melody to its lonesome lyrics. With some five albums to his credit, Paul Pigat isn't nearly as well known as Alvin, but more triumphs like Boxfire Campfire could change all that. — Alan Sculley

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Collapse Into Now

Warner Bros.

Buy if you like: Patti Smith, Velvet Underground

It took R.E.M. years to regain equilibrium after drummer Bill Berry's departure, but to the credit of Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills, the band never gave up. And the payoff is this sterling new disc, which harkens back to their Automatic for the People/Out of Time era. "Überlin," in fact, sounds like an outtake from those albums. It's reminiscent of "Drive" and "Losing My Religion," but with the kind of exuberant lyrics found on "Man on the Moon." Buck even revisits his gorgeous lead mandolin work, which flows beautifully through the iridescent "Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I." Then there's the tour-de-force with Patti Smith, "Blue," on which Stipe speed-recites poetry as Smith's vocals hover like a cloud, swelling over minor piano chords until an electric guitar takes over for the "Discoverer" coda. Yup, it's quirky, underground, overhead, and very much R.E.M. the way you want them to sound. — Lynne Margolis


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