Sound advice 

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The Blakes

Art of Losses


File next to: The Libertines, the Strokes

It's been three years since we've heard from this under-appreciated indie pop group, but Bob Husak and brothers Garnet and Snow Keim haven't been slacking. Since the release of 2009's Souvenir, they've released two albums as their psychedelic side project, Beads. They've also started, and shelved, a Blakes album that was to be called Low Low. Judging from Art of Losses, all this activity hasn't depleted them of good material. Instead, we get dreamy numbers like the charming "Old Gal" and the lush "Pocket," a more raucous brand of pop-rock on the title track and "Black Carnation," and angular songs like "Sea Fishing (Slow It Down)" and "Paralysis," which echo artists ranging from the Talking Heads to the Strokes. There's nothing too complex here, but the hooks are strong, the sonic textures imaginative — all of which should be enough to grab and hold on to listeners who value smart, catchy pop-rock. — Alan Sculley

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Reel Big Fish

Candy Coated Fury

Rock Ridge Music

File next to: Goldfinger, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Yes, Reel Big Fish is back with a blast on Candy Coated Fury, an album that represents an entertaining return to the frenetic ska/punk sound that marked the band's first couple of records, back in the '90s. The title pretty much tells the story: The music here is fast moving, melodic and punchy. Aaron Barrett's lyrics provide the fury — blasts of sarcasm and resentment that come in songs with titles like "P.S. I Hate You" and "Your Girlfriend Sucks." The album's best tune is "I Know You Too Well to Like You Anymore," a jumpin' number on which Barrett is joined by Julie Stoyer of Dick and Jane. The two singers trade lines, portraying a couple who hate each other but can't bring themselves to break up. There's also a fine instrumental, as well as some reggae-tinged tracks and lots of propulsion. All in all, a fine summer record. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Elvis Presley

I Am an Elvis Fan


File next to: Roy Orbison, Chuck Berry

In May, some 250,000 people in more than 20 countries voted for songs to be included on the first fan-selected Elvis Presley record. The result of that voting is I Am an Elvis Fan, a 21-song collection that's heavy on late-period Elvis and notably lacks anything from his Sun Records period. The '50s are represented by "Don't Be Cruel," "Heartbreak Hotel," "All Shook Up" and "Jailhouse Rock." "Blue Hawaii" and "Viva Las Vegas" come from movie soundtracks. The rest of the record is made up of classics like "In the Ghetto," "Suspicious Minds," "Guitar Man" (kind of a surprise) and "Kentucky Rain." There are three live cuts and a pair of well-chosen gospel songs. This isn't the best Elvis collection, but it's obviously an indicator of what fans want to hear from the King — and their faces are digitally collaged on the cover to create a picture of Presley. — L. Kent Wolgamott


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