The Soundtrack of Our Lives - Origin, Vol. 1 (Universal): If someone ever staged a Broadway musical celebrating '60's rock, these Swedish retro-rockers would be the perfect pit band. They wear their influences proudly - a Who-ish windmill guitar riff here, a snarling Stones-like vocal there, a woozy, Pink Floydian synth bubbling under. The songs are all originals, with hooks big enough to fill arenas - if it were 1967, this would be exciting stuff. I can't help wishing I was listening to the band's heroes instead. By John Kehe

Deana Carter - The Story of My Life (Vanguard Records): The only thing country about Deana Carter's new CD is her Southern accent. Nine years ago, Carter burst onto the country-music scene with the multiplatinum "Did I Shave My Legs For This?" But she has shifted toward rock 'n' roll ever since. A mix of finger-picking ballads and pure pop originals, "The Story of My Life," spins witty takes on being on the outside of a relationship looking in. "The Girl You Left Me For" rocks out with a familiar "yeah, yeah, yeah" refrain; and the chorus of "She's Good For You" finishes with the mischievous line, "that makes her very bad ... for me." By Vic Roberts


Harold Arlen Centennial Celebration - Various artists (Concord Records): This year marks 100 years since the birth of one of America's greatest composers. Arlen, the onetime house songwriter at Harlem's Cotton Club, penned timeless tunes like "It's Only a Paper Moon," "Stormy Weather," "Get Happy," and "Over the Rainbow." Disc 1 of this two-CD collection features performances by vocalists such as Rosemary Clooney, Mel Tormé, and Sarah Vaughan. On Disc 2, instrumentalists such as Art Tatum, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie work their own "Old Black Magic" on Arlen's melodies. A great intro to Arlen - and jazz, for that matter. By Gregory M. Lamb

Pink Martini - Hang On Little Tomato (Heinz Records): It's hard to beat Pink Martini's description of itself: "Somewhere between a 1930s Cuban dance orchestra, a classical chamber music ensemble, a Brasilian marching street band and Japanese film noir...." With its multilingual repertoire - courtesy of vocalist China Forbes and Thomas Lauderdale, a classically trained pianist who is also the band leader - this dozen-member group (strings, brass, and percussion) is passionate, amusing, sophisticated, and altogether original. Music for the ages and for all ages. By Brad Knickerbocker

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