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Music

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‘10’ New Kids on the Block

“10,” the sixth album from New Kids on the Block, offers up the boy band brand of catchy pop adapted to modern tastes – easy, swaying hooks melded with unexpected Euro beats, sensitive lyrics and vague echoes of retro sounds.

But make no mistake, these guys are here to conquer your heart all over again, even going as far as to issue an Enrique Iglesias-doppelganger sounding tune, “The Whisper.”

In a world where true pop romance is dead, this 12-track album separates the men from the boys in the musical arena. They sing with confidence on the touching ballad “Back to Life” (a wink to their phoenix-like rebirth?), issue a playful, energetic party invitation on the first single “Remix (I Like The)” and let emotion pour in “Miss You More.”

Their swagger in “We Own the Night” puts to shame their contemporary counterparts who sing in only one direction. They may not set teenage hearts aflutter anymore, but they’ve got the rest of the market covered.

– Cristina Jaleru, Associated Press

‘Pioneer’ The Band Perry

Like film director Tim Burton, The Band Perry puts an entertaining spin on the darker aspects of life and love. With their second album “Pioneer,” singer Kimberly Perry and her brothers Neil and Reid continue to blend sinister and innocent in deliciously fresh ways.

The trio’s new work highlights just how well-developed they’ve become as songwriters – they’re responsible for nine of the 12 songs – and how inventive they can be with arrangements. They bring out the best in veteran producer Dann Huff, who does his best work here since helping Keith Urban create his distinctive sound.

Like Urban, The Band Perry use banjos and other string instruments to create a down-to-earth foundation on songs like the No. 1 country hit “Better Dig Two.” They also like juxtaposing acoustic and electric elements, which adds texture to catchy tunes like the anthemic “I’m a Keeper” and the Cheap Trick-like “Night Gone Wasted” – both co-written with another family group, The Henningsens.

Throughout, Kimberly Perry wields her smoky voice like a skilled actress, inhabiting each song to bring the lyrics alive. “Pioneer” is an artistic tour de force that furthers the potential shown on group’s award-winning 2010 debut.

– Michael McCall, Associated Press

‘Victim of Love’ Charles Bradley

Charles Bradley is preoccupied with love on his latest album, but it’s something of a stylistic leap on a handful of songs that makes his latest album stand out.

Buried at the center of the album is a small run of fuzzy songs that push Bradley into rockin’ psychedelic territory and add a different dimension to the 64-year-old soul shouter’s sound. More important, they should fit right in onstage, where “The Screaming Eagle of Soul” truly shines.

Bradley’s Menahan Street Band opens “Love Bug Blues” with a vibrato horn solo meant to mimic the sound of a buzzing bee, then launches into a vibrant funk line that fits the former James Brown impersonator’s aged voice perfectly. The band extends the run through the intermission instrumental “Dusty Blue,” with its shimmery keys and breathy woodwinds.

Then Bradley and band really crank things up with “Confusion,” laying down a fuzztone bass line with echoey vocals and a staccato horn line, back to back with the towering “Where Do We Go From Here” – both among their best work together.

“Victim of Love” is added proof Bradley is more than a soul revivalist. He’s something special.

– Chris Talbott, Associated Press

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