Picks and Pans Review: Quick Cuts

UPDATED 12/22/2008 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 12/22/2008 at 01:00 AM EST

MUSIQ SOULCHILD OnMyRadio This R&B singer still has an aversion to spaces between the words in his titles. It's a quirk that may be getting a little old on his fifth album. But the sensitive soul of tracks like "DeserveUMore" and "Until" still satisfies.

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THE FIREMAN Electric Arguments The Beatles and Wings aren't the only groups Paul McCartney's blessed. He's also paired with producer Youth in this experimental outfit. Their third disc—the first with vocals—can be a cool mood piece but never catches fire.

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RANDY HOUSER Anything Goes Houser has already had a taste of major success in Nashville, cowriting Trace Adkins's hit "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk." But he's better when going for the heart with ballads on his country debut.

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TRAVIS Ode to J. Smith It's hard to be a U.K. band when the Next Big Things just keep coming, some of them actually living up to the hype. Still, these veterans shouldn't be overlooked with the atmospheric alt-rock on their sixth studio CD.

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