Love on the Inside

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Still as hard to resist as a triple-fudge brownie, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush kick off their third disc—and second as a duo—with the ditty-licious first single "All I Want to Do." Breezy and lightly bluesy, with the same carefree spirit as that like-named Sheryl Crow tune, it's already a hit on both the country and pop charts. Other highlights of a consistently entertaining set include "It Happens," a honky-tonkish play on "s--- happens," and the rock-edged ballad "Love," which showcases their vocal interplay. Best, though, is "Very Last Country Song," which fittingly ends the CD on a wistful note: "If we knew what we had before it was gone/If every road led back home/This would be the very last country song." Sweet stuff.

At Mount Zoomer

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Move over, Arcade Fire: Wolf Parade is ready to replace you as the coolest band out of Montreal. On At Mount Zoomer, their second disc, these quirky Canucks often reach impressive indie-rock heights. You'll find yourself getting lost—in the very best sense—in the swirling, psychedelic-tinged sounds of songs like the opener, "Soldier's Grin." Several tracks, with their winding arrangements, stretch out to more than five minutes. The epic finale "Kissing the Beehive" is almost 11 minutes. Meanwhile tunes like "An Animal in Your Care" find Wolf Parade capturing the brooding spirit of the Cure, with Spencer Krug conjuring Robert Smith with his yelpy vocal. Bonus points for rad CD packaging.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "The Grey Estates," a bouncy synth-pop trip


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After declaring that Hip Hop Is Dead in 2006, Nas announced that he would use an even more controversial title—the N-word—for his ninth studio effort. The prerelease uproar may have led the rapper to simply leave this CD untitled, but it hasn't softened the impact of this hard-hitting look at the state of black America and race relations. In fact the N-word is all over the album, with Nas getting to the root of what it really means in today's post-Imus world. On "N.I.*.*.E.R. (The Slave and the Master)," the stirring, string-laden heart of the disc, he reclaims the word from its ugly past, while on the Barack-boosting closer "Black President" he finds hope for the future. In the Year of Obama this CD—the leading candidate for best rap album of 2008—couldn't be more vital.

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This 30th-anniversary edition of the Piano Man's classic album hits all the right notes, with the remastered original and a bonus live disc. Yes, Billy, we still love you just the way you are.

On their second CD these punk-popsters—from the emo school of Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco—live up to their great band name. Songs like the first single "Practice Makes Perfect" hit the mark.

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Ace Young
Approaching this debut with less-than-lofty expectations, it's a pleasant surprise. Flavoring his pop with R&B and rock, Young—seventh in season 5 of American Idol—wins you over with confections like "The Girl That Got Away."

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This 17-year-old country singer hasn't quite lived enough to really make you believe some of the songs on her second album. But she can still kick up some feisty fun on "Trail of Lies" and "Break Yours First."

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The Hard Way
Sorry, Amy: Apparently the U.K.'s retro-soul movement isn't all about the ladies. On his latest set of good old-fashioned R&B, this British crooner continues to be possessed by the ghost of Ray Charles.

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After eight No. 1 hits in her native Australia, the 23-year-old pop singer—and cancer survivor—makes her U.S. debut with Delta.

It changed everything. I went from being an 18-year-old girl to losing my innocence. Suddenly I looked completely different. My skin was green. I lost all my hair, my eyelashes, my eyebrows. I wasn't myself anymore. I had just broken through, and then this happened. It took a year of treatment, I feel very lucky to feel strong again.

She's been a guiding light to me. We're both Australian women. We're both cancer survivors. It's a beautiful friendship.

I had just written ['Eyes on Me'] and then I got a call that they were going to record it [on Dion's Taking Chances]. Oh my God! Because I have looked up to her as a phenomenal singer, I was so overwhelmed and honored that she would sing one of my songs.

He used to be in [Irish boy band] Westlife. He heard me on the radio and went, "That's the voice" [to duet with Westlife on 'All Out of Love']. I met him; later on we became the best of friends and fell in love. He's a very funny Irishman. I learned from him how to let go.

MISSY ELLIOTT (right) shows why she's still one of the top female rappers in the game on "Best Best," a hot club banger from her seventh album, Block Party, which drops Sept. 9. At

LEE ANN WOMACK will have you busting out the hankies with the touching breakup ballad "Last Call" from the country singer's next CD, Call Me Crazy. At

JOHN LEGEND hits the dance floor with OutKast's Andre 3000 on "Green Light," a preview of the R&B loverman's third studio album, Evolver, due this fall. At