Picks and Pans Review: Quick Cuts

updated 09/01/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/01/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

STAIND The Illusion of Progress

These alt-metalheads don't display much progress on their latest. What's worse, though, is that they don't rock out much either, going heavy on power ballads. At least the country-tinged "Tangled Up in You" stands out.

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With her electronica-infused pop and ethereal vocals, this singer comes off like the American answer to Dido or Jem. But despite chill grooves like "Over and Under" and "Now or Never," she never really heats up.

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This versatile trumpeter, who has played with everyone from Herbie Hancock to Erykah Badu, freshly updates the sound of '60s post-bop jazz, brilliantly blending beats in crisp originals that pop and swing.

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LOW VS. DIAMOND Low vs. Diamond

On their full-length debut, this L.A. band mines the same neo-new wave territory as the Killers; lead singer Lucas Field even evokes Brandon Flowers. But "Actions Are Actions" is one of the few real gems.

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