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Album reviews: Smith Westerns, Kanye West, Mavis Staples and more


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Amon Amarth, "Deceiver of the Gods" (Metal Blade) » Former Candlemass singer Messiah Marcolin guests on the ninth studio album by the Swedish death metal group.

August Burns Red, "Rescue & Restore" (Solid State) » The Pennsylvania headbangers ramp up the aggression on their sixth album.

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Big Star, "Nothing Can Hurt Me" (Omnivore) » This 21-track companion to the documentary of the same name features previously unreleased versions of some of the Memphis group’s classic songs.

Bosnian Rainbows, "Bosnian Rainbows" (Sargent House/RLP) » The full-length debut by the new band founded by At the Drive-In/Mars Volta alumnus Omar Rodriguez-Lopez.

Chthonic, "Bu-Tik" (Spinefarm) » The Taiwanese metal band return to Swedish producer Rickard Bengtsson, who also helmed 2011’s "Takasago Army."

Natalie Cole, "En Espanol" (Verve/Universal) » Cole taps into the bi-lingual heritage of her father, Nat King Cole, and duets with Andrea Bocelli on the classic "Besame Mucho."

Forever The Sickest Kids, "J.A.C.K." (Fearless) » The Dallas punk rockers move to a new label and debut a couple of new members on their third studio album.

Havok, "Unnatural Selection" (Candlelight) » The third album by the Denver thrash metal quartet features new bassist Matt Leon.

India.Arie, "Songversation" (Soulbird/Motown) » The earthy singer-songwriter co-produced her first new album in four years, recording the 16-track set in Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Jane’s Addiction, "Live in NYC" (UMe) » The iconic group’s new concert CD and DVD captures the quartet in the Big Apple during 2011, accompanied by airborne dancers and trapeze artists.


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Alicia Keys, "VH1 Storytellers" (RCA) » The R&B/pop diva talks about some of her favorites — including "No One," "Fallin’" and "Girl on Fire" on CD, DVD and Blu-ray.

Bob Marley, "Legend Remixed" (Island/UMe) » The reggae great’s greatest songs are overhauled here by sons Ziggy and Stephen as well as Z-Trip, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and others.

Bret Michaels, "Jammin’ With Friends" (Poor Boy) » The Poison frontman loads his latest solo effort with pals such as Jimmy Buffett, Mark McGrath, Miley Cyrus, Loretta Lynn and members of Aerosmith, Kiss, Def Leppard and, of course, Poison.

Willie Nile, "American Ride" (Loud & Proud) » The American songwriting treasure funded his latest release through PledgeMusic.com.

Palms, "Palms" (Ipecac) » The debut outing by the new group formed by deftones frontman Cino Moreno and three members of the fellow metal group Isis.

Royksopp, "Late Night Tales" (Late Night Tales) » The Swedish electronic duo is the latest act to take part in this adventurous mix series, stirring together songs by XTC, Thomas Dolby, the Little River Band and more and including its cover of Depeche Mode’s "Ice Machine."

Scorpion Child, "Scorpion Child" (Nuclear Blast) » The debut outing from the headbanging Austin, Texas, quintet that will be part of this summer’s Rock Star Energy Drink Mayhem Festival lineup.

Skillet, "Rise" (Word/Atlantic) » The Christian hard rockers from Memphis experiment with a few new styles and flavors on their ninth album.

Slum Village, "Evolution" (Ne’Astra) » The Detroit rap troupe gets help from pals Jazzy Jeff, Big Pooh, Blu and Mobb Deep’s Havoc on this 12-song set overseen by co-founder T3.

Transplants, "In a War Zone" (Epitaph) » The third studio set from the all-star punk group featuring blink-182’s Travis Barker, Rancid’s Tim Armstrong and Death March’s Rob Aston.

Various Artists, "Sing Me the Songs: Celebrating the Works of Kate McGarrigle" (Nonesuch) » Rufus and Martha Wainwright lead this tribute to their late mother, which also features Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones and others, with proceeds going to the Kate McGarrigle Foundation.

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