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Artist: The Coral
Album: Magic and Medicine
Genre: Rock
Label: Columbia Records

The Coral is what would have happened if fellow Liverpudlian Paul McCartney had taken some Quaaludes and started a decent band after the Beatles. There’s nothing life-changing on the album, but damn if you aren’t humming the melodies long after the record stops playing. The band sometimes overindulges an unfortunate predilection for tired garage blues, but all is forgiven when the stunningly beautiful “Liezah” meanders in, providing respite from the world and alternately suggesting lingering infatuation and a sense of loss, but never indifference.

-Jeffrey Parker

Artist: Incubus
Album: A Crow Left of the Murder
Genre: Rock
Label: Epic Records

Incubus and the word “consistent” are gradually becoming synonymous. A Crow Left of the Murder, the band’s follow-up effort to its smash-hit album Morning View, draws you in and won’t let go. The first single off the album and lead track “Megalomaniac” is an exuberant statement that shows Incubus’ depth. Lead singer Brandon Boyd’s lyrics are combined with creative beats and hard guitar riffs. In the band members’ second decade of playing together, this album reinforces the fact that Incubus has definitely found a sound that makes it one of today’s better rock acts.

-Joshua Meredith

Artist: Phantom Planet
Album: Phantom Planet
Genre: Rock
Label: Sony

At least for now, Phantom Planet is no longer the same band that blessed “The O.C.” with its pop-infused theme song, “California.” The group has completely transformed its sound, delivering raucous, urgent rock that is embedded far more in the sensibilities of The Sex Pistols or The Velvet Underground than it is in that of The Beach Boys or The Beatles. The attitude and the intensity of this record practically bleed out of the speakers, as front man Alex Greenwald adopts a Strokes-esque vocal style that works well with all the distorted lo-fi goodness. Most of the record consists of arbitrary vocal melodies that plaster themselves onto the propulsive, adrenaline-fueled drums, blistering bass lines and sinister guitar riffs. But every once in a while, a slice of a thoughtful melody reminiscent of the band’s old pop style creeps through, providing little glimpses into what used to be the quintessential Phantom Planet sound, making the songs that much more agonizingly good. This album rocks. Play it loud.

-Sarina Penn

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