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Mike Doughty & r & & r & Golden Delicious & r & & r & 3 STARS & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & F & lt;/span & ormer frontman for avant-rockers Soul Coughing, Mike Doughty releases his latest collection of gems that offer the kind of off-kilter pop sensibilities that combine the snarky sweetness of Fountains of Wayne ("27 Jennifers") and the sagest avuncular advice ("You should be getting stoned with a prom-dress girl" on the lovely, if nostalgic, "Fort Hood"). Or at least as off-kilter as one gets after having a song soundtrack-ed by TV's Grey's Anatomy. (Remember "Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well"?)

Guitar-driven with clean, clean production, the album sounds familiar, if only because Doughty has been perfecting this sound for some time now. But his vocal presence, its staccato syncopation, stands as the high mark throughout the entirety, giving the songs an edge they otherwise would be missing. Definitely not an easy sell, Golden Delicious is crisp in all the right ways. A fine harbinger for the coming spring.


DOWNLOAD: "Fort Hood"

Los Campesinos!

Hold On Now, Youngster


& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & hese irreverent Welsh musicians bring lots of fun to the table, and lots of bright guitar sounds to the 12 songs on their most recent collection of exuberance. For those new to the band, the second release marks an extension of the frenetic blasts of pop gold and preciously pretentious precociousness, an addictively saccharine concoction made by a roomful of Ritalin candidates.

Aleksandra and Gareth Campesinos! -- all members share a surname, natch -- are the main vocal presences, and the whole remains gleeful. While the music's quixotic qualities betray the serious musicianship beneath, enough time with these songs will make true believers of the masses. "Don't Tell Me to Do the Math(s)" rocks playfully ("Maybe we'll drown in Dewey decimals); "Knee Deep at ATP" swings lovingly at the serious-rock set. If rock is supposed to be fun, more musicians should follow this band's lead. Play. Repeat. Have fun.


DOWNLOAD: "Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks"
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