Sound advice 

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Lana Del Rey

Born to Die


Buy if you like: Cults, Amy Winehouse

There's a reason Lana Del Rey had a YouTube hit and generated big Internet buzz with "Video Games." It's a gorgeous "sadcore" song showcasing everything good about the neo-torch singer: a rich, smoky voice singing lyrics with a little more edge than standard diva fare. Then came her wooden performance on Saturday Night Live, followed by a nasty backlash, and her debut was declared dead on arrival, at least by some. Sure enough, the Madonna-esque "National Anthem" is a dud, several songs sound too much alike with too little to say, and the mid-tempo, string-washed numbers get old. But they're offset by plenty of good tracks, including "This Is What Makes Us Girls," the title cut, and, from the deluxe edition, "Lucky Ones." Born to Die isn't the disaster it's made out to be. In fact, given a little more development, Del Rey could turn out to be great. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Foxy Shazam

The Church of Rock and Roll


Buy if you like: Cheap Trick, Panic! at the Disco

The Church of Rock and Roll, Foxy Shazam's propulsive fourth album, dredges up a motley crew of styles from rock's past and recycles them with unapologetic verve. There are vestiges of Sunset Strip-era hair metal, Queen-style bombast, and enough vocals and guitar excess to suggest a reheated Meat Loaf. Still, the Cincinnati band is capable of kicking out the jams, reaching a glam peak on "Holy Touch," with Eric Nally launching into full wail. The group ventures into Cheap Trick power-pop turf ("Last Chance at Love), Slade sing-along terrain ("Too Late Baby") and nicely nailed hard rock ("The Temple"). Lyrically, the disc tends to go beyond standard rock fare, from the rocker dad missing family on "Forever Together" to the closing "Freedom," an ode to the Statue of Liberty's forgotten meaning. Ultimately, there's nothing particularly new, but it all works well enough. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Elvis Presley

Elvis Country (Legacy Edition)


Buy if you like: Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash

This double-CD Legacy edition unites two 40-year-old records: Elvis Country (I'm 10,000 Years Old) and Love Letters From Elvis, plus a half-dozen bonus tracks. The first disc includes Elvis' take on Anne Murray's "Snowbird," a little rock 'n roll via "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," and classic country ballads "Funny How Time Slips Away," "Make the World Go Away" and a killer Memphis version of "Faded Love." Disc two is more typical Elvis fare with a bunch of originals punctuated by a hymn, "Only Believe." Muddy Waters' "Got My Mojo Working" and a take on Ricky Nelson's "Cindy, Cindy" let guitarist James Burton cut loose. The most notable part isn't the musicianship, the arrangements, or the song selection; it's Presley's vocals. This was one of the King's prime periods and he's really singing throughout. When Elvis tried, there was never anyone better. — L. Kent Wolgamott


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