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I don't think that The Ting Tings are just another British "it" pop band of the moment, but I can certainly understand those who may think they are just that. On We Started Nothing, the Manchester duo (go City!) prove that they are perfectly capable of writing and performing infectious confections that stick with you despite any of your best efforts to rid yourself of the melodies they contain. In the wrong hands, this can lead to major annoyance and a quick career. If they continue to do it like the songs on this album, bigger things await.

When we first heard the tune "Mercy" by 23-year old Welsh singer and songwriter Duffy, we were hooked.  The tune (XPN was one of the very first radio stations to play the song, by the way...) is instantly catchy, with lots and lots of cool historical flourishes.  It's her ability to wear her influences on her sleeve without sounding completely retro that makes Duffy a very interesting new voice. 

It's been interesting to watch (and listen to) the career offerings of XPN favorites Old 97's. In their 15-year existence, Rhett Miller and company have consistently given us quality rock & roll with a touch of Texas twang, and while they break no new ground, Blame It On Gravity, is a solid effort full of hooks and attitude.

Death Cab for Cutie is a band that boasts two of the very best artists in all of indie-dom: singer Ben Gibbard, who's blessed with an amazing, natural voice, and guitarist and producer Chris Walla, who has the knack of making everything he touches sound real and epic at the same time. The talent is certainly on display on this new album, Narrow Stairs, but the subject matter is much more suffocating.

Combining elements of hip-hop, punk, new wave, electronica and classic pop music, Santogold's self-titled debut album is truly a remarkable piece of work.  Philadelphia native Santi White, along with songwriter and producer John Hill – a.k.a. Johnny Rodeo – is quickly developing a reputation as one of music's best and brightest, and this album certainly shows why.

As most people probably know the only things closer to Helen Leicht's heart (other than her family and Paul McCartney) are our local musicians. Helen loves having the opportunity to share this music with you, the WXPN audience.

The bad news first: the second Gnarls Barkley album The Odd Couple does not contain any song with the hit single potential of "Crazy" from their St. Elsewhere album. The good news is – as far as consistency, soul, and overall performance is concerned,The Odd Couple is maybe even better than the debut. This mid-fi delight combines pop touchstones of the past with hip-hop beats and electronica attitude, and the result is warm and decidedly real...

On their fifth and best album to date – Attack & Release – Akron, Ohio minimalist duo The Black Keys take a step forward sonically and in songwriting. The record sounds more like a complete work than anything they've ever done, but long-time fans will not be disappointed in the results.

In what just may heralded as Peter Buck's long-anticipated R.E.M. "guitar album", Athens, Georgia's finest let it rip on Accelerate, the beloved band's 14th studio album. As the title suggests, the tunes are faster, more urgent, and sound a lot less fussed-over than a lot of the group's past catalogue.

On Adam Duritz's self-confessional tour de force Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, Counting Crows successfully remind us of all the components that went into making them one of the 90's most popular rock acts. After a six year hiatus, the band has emerged with a muscular, passionate and honest record.

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