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It would be understandable if Marcus Mumford had approached the prospect of Mumford & Sons’ second album with some trepidation. Many bands which have experienced a similar meteoric rise into the public consciousness over a short period of time have faltered with their sophomore effort. Babel almost sidesteps this issue by re-treading old ground and,

Let’s get it clear from the outset, Taylor Swift’s fourth studio album Red is about as steeped in the Nashville sound as Beethoven’s fifth symphony, though she’s become less of a country music singer with every album since her eponymous debut record in 2006. The pop crossover was essentially complete when Big Machine Records brought

After more than nine years (and counting) of continuous stage performances, the musical Mamma Mia!, featuring songs from the ABBA catalog awkwardly stitched into a romantic comedy plot, was adapted for the big screen by the same producer/director/writer team that had taken it to the theater. (That would be Judy Craymer, Phyllida Lloyd, and Catherine

Of Monsters and Men is an Icelandic collective with a hushed indie-folk tone, not to be confused with ‘Of Mice and Men’, the Californian ‘metalcore’ act, though the animals in the names would fit better to their genres if they were swapped around so there’d be timid mice for the folk act and heavyweight monsters

Night Visions found success out of the gate. It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, selling over 83,000 copies in its first week. The band utilizes an arena rock sound, while dipping into the electro genre. Through a couple previous EP’s, some of the songs off of Night Visions made their way out

Formed by Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriguez from the ashes of their previous band At the Drive-In, the Mars Volta takes a dizzying journey to hell and back on this colorfully titled album, traveling inside the mind of a man who attempted suicide but went into a week-long coma before ultimately choosing death. As one

Having helped generate the first wave of ’90s pop-punk, Face to Face was due to profit from the mainstream success of artists like Lit and Blink 182 who had taken their melodic approach to punk songcrafting to new commercial heights. With so much punk credibility to be had, the last thing anyone expected these famous

From Olympia, Washington comes Sleater-Kinney, a hard-rocking, stripped-down, punk trio. No, this ain’t 1979, but lead singer Corin Tucker does count punk godmother Patti Smith among her major influences, and it shows in this band’s often-savage sound. Tucker also claims a debt to Aretha Franklin, and that too comes through in her full-throated vocal attack.

For their third major label release, Fall Out Boy return as twice-minted multi-platinum celebrities and deftly deliver what they came to: a huge rock album by a huge rock band. Having already lost any shred of punkdom that the ’00s strand of emo ever had, the Illinois quartet seems unfettered by their chosen genre’s boundaries

IN FLIGHT, the shimmering debut by the former lead singer for San Francisco’s 4 Non Blondes, conveys the hazy feeling of an afternoon drive through the California desert. Linda Perry’s ballads exude warmth, with acoustic-guitar, slide-guitar, string and organ arrangements reminiscent of the understated roots-rock of the Cowboy Junkies and the mild psychedelia of Mazzy

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