by Luke Baumgarten and Ted S. McGregor Jr. & r & & r & Keane & lt;a href= & quot; & amp;offerid=78941 & amp;type=3 & amp;subid=0 & amp;tmpid=1826 & amp; & quot; & Under the Iron Sea & lt;/a & 3.5 STARS & r & Take the bombast of arena-era U2, add in the feel-good pop hooks of Coldplay, sprinkle in a little bit of Queen's operatic style, then push puree on your music blender and -- voila! -- it's Keane. If you have to borrow, you could do a lot worse. It's like music created by a team of scientists to have the best chance of hitting it big. And it's worked, as Keane is being called the best power-trio to come out of England since the Police (one band they don't sound like).

"Is It Any Wonder?" is the kind of perfect pop song that hits about once every summer. A better question might be: Is it any wonder that Keane sounds so much like U2? They've opened for them so many times, U2 probably doesn't even care that they ripped off "Zoo Station." Meanwhile, "Hamburg Song" is the record's obligatory ballad, and Tom Chaplin sounds a whole lot like Freddie Mercury.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with this record -- in fact, it's solid all the way through. Only one problem: You've probably heard it already. -- Ted S. McGregor & r & Check out: "Leaving So Soon?"

The Little Ones & lt;a href= & quot; & amp;offerid=78941 & amp;type=3 & amp;subid=0 & amp;tmpid=1826 & amp; & quot; & Sing Song & lt;/a & 3.5 STARS & r & Intuitively, putting together a project that nicks, apes and otherwise co-opts the sounds of every pop band from Granddaddy to Coldplay to the Beach Boys to the Beatles in only six songs (with artwork by the dude who did the Shins' last album no less), seems like an exercise in tedium: all the same hooks, synths and harmonies.

That's not true of the Little Ones' first EP, Sing Song, though. All those pop touchstones exist, sometimes blatantly (I'll be damned if I didn't hear the synth riff from their "High on a Hill" somewhere on the Beatle's Revolver), sometimes more subtly ("Heavy Hearts Brigade" has the merest hint of a march and reminds me of the Decemberists' "Youth and Beauty Brigade").

Granted, that broad a range of elements makes Sing Song a little scattershot -- which, in less capable hands, might translate into incoherence. The Little Ones' hands, though, are quite capable. What they've pulled off here is invigorating. -- Luke Baumgarten & r & Check out: "Cha Cha Cha"

Witness to Wartime: The Painted Diary of Takuichi Fujii @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

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