Van Halen

A Different Kind of Truth |

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ROCK

"Told ya I was coming back/Say you missed me/Say it like you mean it." So speaketh David Lee Roth on "Blood and Fire," an anthem of resurgence and resilience. Diamond Dave certainly deserves to feel vindicated after reuniting with Van Halen for this, the first studio album to feature the band's original frontman since 1984, their blockbuster of that titular year. (You can just imagine a smirking Roth thumbing his honker at Sammy Hagar.) Forget "Tattoo," the plodding first single. Rocking like it's 1984 all over again, there's much better stuff here: the snarling "You and Your Blues," which brings out Roth's bluesiest; "The Trouble with Never," a crowd-pleaser that asks their now-middle-aged fans, "When was the last time you did something for the first time?" Elsewhere, metallic cuts like the blistering "Bullethead" feature some blazing guitar work from Eddie Van Halen, who, playing alongside 20-year-old son Wolfgang on bass, must want to show the kid who's still the boss.

Dierks Bentley

Home |

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COUNTRY

On his last outing, 2010's Up on the Ridge, Dierks Bentley got his bluegrass bona fides with Alison Krauss and Vince Gill, among others. Home returns the country star to more radio-friendly territory like the No. 1 hit "Am I the Only One," a feel-good drinking song. But standouts like "5-5-1-0," a banjo-laced barn stomper, and "Diamonds Make Babies," which slyly examines the consequences of putting a ring on it, still show plenty of respect for down-home tradition.

ROBERTA FLACK

Let It Be Roberta: Roberta Flack Sings the Beatles

On her first set since '03, Flack interprets Beatles songs with subtle touches of R&B, funk, jazz, hip-hop and Afro pop, still killing you softly.

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BAND OF SKULLS

Sweet Sour

After their smoking 2009 debut, these Brit indie rockers have cooled off a bit. Still, a killer like "The Devil Takes Care of His Own" will make you sell them your soul.

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CRAIG FINN

Clear Heart Full Eyes

Finn, frontman of the Hold Steady, makes a strong solo debut that goes from Replacements-esque alt-rock ("No Future") to Ryan Adams-like alt-country ("Not Much Left of Us").

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AMOS LEE

As the Crow Flies

Last year this singer-songwriter surprisingly hit No. 1 with Mission Bell. On this EP of outtakes, his understated style makes songs like "Simple Things" glide.

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JENNIFER HUDSON gets a double shot of testosterone from Ne-Yo and Rick Ross on the soulful "Think Like a Man," from the romantic comedy of the same name, out April 20. $1.29 at amazon.com.

THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTS make a punchy return on "Beekeeper's Daughter," the first single from Kids in the Street, out March 26. $1.29 at zune.net.

MONICA and BRANDY reunite 14 years after "The Boy Is Mine" for "It All Belongs to Me," a sister-to-sister anthem from both of their upcoming albums. $1.29 at iTunes.com.

KARMIN, fresh off of their Saturday Night Live gig, serves up "Brokenhearted," an infectious pop confection from the YouTube sensation's debut album, arriving this spring. $1.29 at rhapsody.com.

ROMEO SANTOS

ON BEING KNOWN AS THE KING OF BACHATA, A ROMANTIC FORM OF DOMINICAN MUSIC

I'm half Dominican, half Puerto Rican, so I grew up listening to bachata and felt passionate about the chords and melodies. Bachata was more for older guys, but I knew I could bring something new to the game with [my former boy band] Aventura, attracting the youth to listen.

ON HOW HE GOT HIS ROMEO NICKNAME

There's another artist who sings bachata also named Anthony Santos, so I came up with Romeo. It suits me: I'm very romantic, and the girls flow with that!

ON COLLABORATING WITH USHER ON THE NO. 1 LATIN HIT "PROMISE"

I always wanted to be like a Latin Usher, so it was incredible. I taught him some bachata moves, and now he knows how to dance bachata better than me. He might be the new king of bachata dancing!