After last year's double disc paired the Hannah Montana 2 soundtrack with Meet Miley Cyrus
, the teen phenom completely breaks out from her TV character on her new album. Peppy and punchy, the result is a pop-rock set that finds Cyrus taking the first steps away from the tween scene, while still keeping one foot in Disney world. On the best track, the punk-spiked single "7 Things," she walks the fine line between bratty and bouncy. Think Avril lite. Meanwhile the dance-rocker "Fly on the Wall," with its snarling guitar riff, sounds like something out of the Ashlee school. With eight songs cowritten by Cyrus, the lyrics are age-appropriate. And on the lone cover, she puts the 15-year-old girl into "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."
Black Kids come on like a musical crossbreed of the Cure, the B-52's and Scissor Sisters on their debut disc, one of the hottest party albums of the summer. This Jacksonville, Fla., quintet—only two of whom, lead singer Reggie Youngblood and his sister Ali, are actually black—has the cheeky humor to match the dance-rock hooks. The hip-shaking highlight is "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You," the best Cure song that the Cure never did.
If Amy Winehouse hadn't already released Back to Black last year, The Stoop—another modern spin on '60s soul with a hip-hop attitude—might have been truly groundbreaking. Still, Little Jackie—a collaboration between singer Imani Coppola and programmer Adam Pallin—has come up with something special. They pour on the sass—and the brass—on lyrically wicked girl-group throwbacks like "28 Butts," "LOL" and "Cryin for the Queen," which takes aim at La Amy: "There's a recall on all imports who behavin' all out of sorts." Ouch.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "The World Should Revolve Around Me." Ego trip meets Motown-nostalgia trip.
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The Edge himself oversaw the sa-weet reissues of U2's first three albums, which, in addition to the remastered original, each come with a bonus disc of rarities. Indeed, we will follow.
THE HOLD STEADY
Lyrically and musically rich, these indie rockers hold your attention steady. Best cuts: the Springsteen-esque single "Sequestered in Memphis" and the blues-colored ballad "Lord, I'm Discouraged."
NINE INCH NAILS
In May Trent Reznor pulled a Radiohead by making NIN's latest available for free download. Now you can buy the physical CD, and on the industrial strength of tracks such as the single "Discipline," it's a worthy one.
Around the Bend
After releasing a string of spiritual CDs this decade, Travis returns to his country roots. As warm, traditional tunes like "Dig Two Graves" and "You Didn't Have a Good Time" show, he hasn't lost his touch.
They may be from Seattle and record for the same label that gave us Nirvana, but this quintet couldn't be anything further from grunge. On their debut album, these sweet Foxes will have you blissing out with their airy dream pop.
The country singer, 35, is on tour this summer with his hit "Just Got Started Lovin' You" off his album Sunset Man.
ON HIS CHILDHOOD AVERSION TO COUNTRY
I was always into rock. But when we moved to Alabama when I was a teenager, I was exposed to rockin' country like Hank [Williams] Jr., Alabama and Charlie Daniels. I really liked it.
ON BEING A FOUNDING MEMBER OF MUZIKMAFIA
It was a group of friends with a different agenda than lots [of the music business] in Nashville, people really willing to support each other. It was like an anchor to hold you in place.
ON HIS WIFE, AMY
I met her when I was [signed to] Mercury and she was in the marketing department. We got married in 2005, and Gretchen [Wilson] was one of my groomsmen. She wore a tux and looked better than any of the [men] in it.
ON HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW, RASCAL FLATTS' JAY DEMARCUS
Amy's sister Allison and Jay got married a year before we did. Jay and I started writing together by being at these family things. I really relied on his ear for this album.