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PROBOT Probot ****

Oh, ye holy gods: These are the times when a five-star rating system would come in handy. Foo Fighter Dave Grohl wrote and played all the songs on this album, then invited 11 of his childhood heavy-metal heroes to sing along. Imagine an album featuring a who’s-who of ’80s underground metal, including, but not limited to, Cronos (Venom), Lemmy (Motorhead) (Headbanger’s Ball video “Shake Your Blood” highly recommended), Lee Dorrian (Napalm Death), Tom G. Warrior (Celtic Frost), Snake (Voivod) and King Diamond (Mercyful Fate). Black, twisted, rotten, virile, crusty, crass and raw, this album is one of the best to be unleashed in several years. (Southern Lord)

MARY LOU LORD Baby Blue ****

The pussywillow-soft, breathy voice of Mary Lou Lord unfurls like butterfly wings, revealing bright colors and the promise of transformation. Mellow, straight-ahead indie-flavored alt-country punctuated with acoustic guitar and harmonica float like dandelion fuzz down a rural lane in southern Alabama. First signed to Kill Rock Stars in 1994, Mary Lou continues her saga with Baby Blue, an eclectic combo of Frente! charm, modern-Stevie Nicks earthiness and Carissa’s Weird warmth. (Rubric)

THE ELECTED Me First ***

Blake Sennett began The Elected, one supposes, because Rilo Kiley (of which Sennett is co-singer/songwriter) simply could not contain all the sad country bursting out of his woebegone soul. Lonely harmonica echoes through “Greetings in Braille;” banjo-picking and ripe synths interweave on “My Baby’s a Dick;” sax and whistling decorate “Don’t Get Your Hopes Up.” Lyrics on love lost, lost dreams, Sennett’s mom, and once, his dog, make for nice salad. (Sub Pop)

THE BLOODY LOVELIES Some Truth & a Little Money ***

Calling The Bloody Lovelies “the best-kept secret of rock & roll” (per Rod Underhill, music director), is definitely taking things a tid-biddly-bit too far, but they are pretty good. Some Truth sounds like a modern Beatles with unfortunate Billy Joel vocals (note especially “Great Big Fall.”) Straight, snappy, smart pop stabbed through with a touch of darkness is fluffed out with Americana, folk, blues and melancholy piano parts. (Cheap Lullaby)

LOST PROPHETS Start Something ***

Welsh band Lost Prophets kinda miss the “cool” mark, but there’s no denying this album isn’t bad. Not great, but not bad. Their dense, smooth guitar work joins seamlessly with pummeling rhythms, tuneful rock vocals and wide, spacious, catchy choruses, landing them somewhere between the anthemic sing-a-longs of P.O.D., the strong melodic choruses of A.F.I. (both without sacrificing essential punk elements), and the slanty-yet-accessible drumbeats of Incubus. (Sony)

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Rebecca Vernon

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