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New Music July 7 2009

What to Download: New Music Today

Tuesdays are big in entertainmentville: not only do all the new DVD releases hit Netflix, but new music also pours into stores. So I take a spin through each week's music releases and pick out some albums and tracks worthy of a download.

Stripped down: To coincide with Michael Jackson's memorial service today, Motown Records has released a new collection of Jackson (and Jackson 5) tracks, remixed to put the vocals front and center. The Stripped Mixes features 11 of Jackson's early recordings (at least one of which was already being remixed before his death), and hearing tracks like "Got to Be There" and "I Want You Back" today is fascinating — and a little eerie.

Comeback kid: R&B artist Maxwell hasn't been heard from for the better part of a decade, but today he's back with his first album in eight years, BLACKsummers'night. And he's not stopping there: This album is the first of a planned trilogy that will be released over the next couple of years. The songs on this album — also available in a deluxe version — are pure and simple, with the emphasis on tracks like "Pretty Wings" and "Stop the World" falling squarely on his voice.

I've got two more releases worth a listen if you read more.

Wilco's contemporaries: Son Volt shares its roots with Wilco — both Son Volt's Jay Farrar and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy played in Uncle Tupelo — and there's something familiar about Son Volt's American Central Dust. Farrar's voice is maybe more countrified than Tweedy's, and Son Volt's music and lyrics sound like sitting on a porch sipping lemonade on a warm Summer's night or driving through the desert southwest. "Down to the Wire" and "Strength and Doubt" have caught my attention so far.

All systems go: OK, so We Were Promised Jetpacks hooked me with their quirky name — but I stayed for the rocking rhythms of These Four Walls. We Were Promised Jetpacks is part of a burgeoning Scottish indie scene (along with other well-named bands like Frightened Rabbit), and at times this group reminds me a little of The Smiths, especially on tracks like "Roll Up Your Sleeves" and "Quiet Little Voices."

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