Sound advice 

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A Minor Bird

Red Velvet

File next to: Eisley, Mutemath

Stacy DuPree and Darren King built up considerable indie rock credibility with their respective bands, Eisley and Mutemath. Now they've teamed up as Sucré for a different sort of release. A Minor Bird finds sweeping, lush orchestration accompanying DuPree's airy vocals, as King embraces a variety of engaging percussive rhythms and sounds for this alternately euphoric and languid album. On the echoing bridge of the ethereal stomper "Chemical Reaction," DuPree is as entrancing as ever, her angelic siren song rising above the ruckus. "No Return" effectively juxtaposes fantasy and reality, with fanciful accordion and talk of easygoing soirees failing to mask an imploding romance. "Hiding Out" offers further evidence of their writing prowess with thoughtful lines like: "Nobody wants anything, unless you give it to them like it's worth something." All in all, a sublime debut. — Brian Palmer

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Bonnie Raitt


Redwing Records

File next to: John Hiatt, Tracy Nelson

Bonnie Raitt's first record since 2005 is a somewhat schizophrenic affair. The majority of tracks here were cut with her road band and veer toward the mix of R&B and blues she's performed live for four decades. There's also a reggae-pop cover of Gerry Rafferty's "Right Down the Line" that serves as a fitting homage to the talented artist who passed away last year. And then there are four striking tracks produced by Joe Henry, which include covers of Bob Dylan's "Million Miles" and "Standing in the Doorway." These find Henry selecting the musicians and placing Raitt's vocals and guitar into more spare settings that really connect. Raitt has said she plans to release a full album of material from the Henry-produced sessions, and it's easy to hear why. Until then, Slipstream will satisfy her fans and confirm the fact that, at 62, Raitt's still got it. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Time Capsules II


File next to: Squeeze, Crowded House

The first sign that Oberhofer's debut album is worthy of your attention is the involvement of Steve Lillywhite, who famously produced the first three U2 albums as well as artists ranging from Morrissey to the Rolling Stones. And Time Capsules II doesn't disappoint. Bandleader Brad Oberhofer, who readily cites Brian Wilson as an influence, has created a hookfest of a pop album, with riffy anthems like "I Could Go" and "Away Frm U" bouncing along like summer beach balls. Toy piano tones add a shiny touch to several songs, including "oOoO" and "Homebro," while "Cruisin' FDR" goes for a new wave feel that reminds us why that sound was so addictive. For a change of pace, there's "Yr Face," a moody ballad that adds a bit of diversity to a debut album that's genuinely upbeat and irresistible. — Alan Sculley


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