Sonic Reducer

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Part hippie drum circle, part lo-fi psychedelia, The Ruby Suns have crafted an indie-pop record with a "world music" feel about it. The Ruby Suns’ singer/songwriter Ryan McPhun is clearly enamored with the sounds he’s come across while trotting the globe, but a part of him still likes the popular synth-enhanced genres from the States. Sometimes there are too many instruments in play and the banging and clanging starts to grate. Still, Sea Lion keeps you guessing and the surprises are usually pleasant. (SM)

Speakeasy All Your New Favorite Songs (Zarr Records)

Midwest groover Speakeasy delivers a solid work of punchy funk woven over and under rock ’n’ roll rhythms. It’s certainly possible to be too catchy, though, with hooks like “You never got down with the get-down until you get down with me now, baby.” Speakeasy sharpens its sound with producer Pete Matthews ( The B-52s, North Mississippi All Stars), but this album never takes any chances in regard to song structure. The best bet might be handpicking your new favorite songs off iTunes. (JH)

The Gutter Twins Saturnalia (Sub Pop)

Rogue songwriters Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, QOTSA) and Greg Dulli (The Afghan Whigs, The Twilight Singers) are The Gutter Twins. This effort harkens, lavish and unabashedly ornate, back to the days of early "alternative." Still, a mature approach puts the brakes on "throwback," a word heading down the rails due to some of these arpeggiated, effects-laden guitar riffs. Bluesy swagger tinged by an aching gothic sensibility, this is a ride worth taking. (MD)

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