Sound advice 

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David Guetta

Nothing but the Beat


Buy if you like: Black Eyed Peas, Nicki Minaj

Super-producer David Guetta had a big hand in some of the frothiest dance-pop music of the past few years, including "Boom Boom Pow" (Black Eyed Peas), "Club Can't Handle Me" (Flo Rida), "Sexy Bitch" (Akon), and "One Love" (Estelle). He's also been releasing his own albums for nearly a decade. Now, coming off 2009's worldwide hit One Love album, the new Nothing but the Beat has all the producer's trademarks: plenty of pulsing and pounding beats, big hooks and synthetic beats, generous amounts of auto-tune, shallow lyrics, and all the trappings of latter-day space-age disco. Add vocals from Chris Brown and Lil Wayne (on "I Can Only Imagine"), will.i.am ("Nothing Really Matters"), Nicki Minaj (showing a seldom heard and solid singing voice on "Turn Me On") and Usher ("Without You"), and Nothing but the Beat should keep Guetta riding his wave of platinum success. — Alan Sculley

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Guy Clark

Songs and Stories


Buy if you like: Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell

Guy Clark has always been a phenomenal songwriter, the kind others look to and learn how it's done. He's also a master storyteller, and this disc sets up most songs with anecdotes or references to co-authors like "dear friend" Rodney Crowell, who helped write "Stuff That Works." Friend and fellow player Verlon Thompson gives a four-minute preamble to "Darwettia's Mandolin," a bluegrass breakdown about his mom. He also delivers a fine ode to a horse, "Joe Walker's Mare." Other accompanists, recorded live at Nashville's Belcourt Theatre, include guitarist/mandolinist/vocalist Shawn Camp, upright bassist Bryn Davies and percussionist Kenny Malone. They provide terrific support on tunes like "L.A. Freeway," "The Cape" and a cover of "If I Needed You," by the patron saint of Texas-born songsmiths, Townes Van Zandt. Fortunately, Clark gets to wear a similar mantle while he's still alive. — Lynne Margolis

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Tommy Keene

Behind the Parade

Second Motion

Buy if you like: the Kinks, Marshall Crenshaw

Since the early 1980s, Tommy Keene has been one of the most underappreciated tunesmiths going. He's turned out one album after another filled with excellent uptempo guitar pop matched by smart lyrics. His latest creation, Behind the Parade, is up there with Keene's best work — which is no small statement. But then, only a select number of acts (like the Beatles, Kinks, Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Big Star, the Replacements) have been able to consistently match what Keene accomplishes here with "Deep Six Saturday," "Running for Your Life," "Already Made Up Your Mind" and several other tracks that sound like instant pop classics the second you hear them. If you've yet to discover Keene, Behind the Parade is a great place to start. Then block out some additional time, because chances are you'll be buying Keene's other albums after you get a taste of this one. — Alan Sculley


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