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World Leader Pretend, Punches (Warner Bros.). There is a land where rock groups care more about marketing themselves and aiming for the Coldplay-listening demographic than, well, rocking. World Leader Pretend is its secretary-general. Some advice: No matter how hip you think irony is, it's never a good idea to put the word "pretend" in your band's name when you're a total fucking phony. -- JH

Can, Future Days (Mute). The grandpappies of kraut rock get the reissue/remaster treatment for three '70s studio platters and Unlimited Edition, a worthy comp. Days is a subtle head trip, Soon Over Babaluma demonstrates why this band is name-checked by loads o' progressivists, and Landed, though a lesser work, captivates anyway. Deutschland über Alles. -- MR

Iommi, Fused (Sanctuary). Imagine that Tony Iommi had a TV show instead of bandmate Ozzy Osbourne. Maybe the guitarist would tell lots of jokes equating his legendary missing fingertips with bat heads. Or, if there was any justice in the world, he'd sit in front of the camera for an hour every week, humbly apologizing for making yet another pointless, overwrought, ego-stroking record. -- JH

Stutterfly, And We Are Bled of Color (Maverick). Label execs have been releasing albums like this one -- pure corporate product smeared with a coating of faux angst in a futile attempt to fool the masses -- since the word "nevermind" first fell from Kurt Cobain's lips. It's time to stop. Right now. -- MR

Chin Up Chin Up, Chin Up Chin Up (Flameshovel). Prickling like Pinback and wrestling as playfully as American Football, this reissue of Chin Up Chin Up's debut EP proves why the Chicago quintet is one of the most sorely underrated acts in indie-dom. Expanded to include spacey remixes, a video and a stunning new semi-acoustic cut ("Falconz and Vulcanz"), it's enthralling and substantial enough to tide you over till Chin Up's next full-length masterpiece. -- JH

Paul Anka, Rock Swings (Verve). Think it'd be a hoot to hear the tuxedoed Mr. A render tunes by R.E.M. and Bon Jovi in finger-poppin' lounge fashion? Well, it is -- for about fifteen seconds. Unfortunately, the album runs another 58 minutes. By then, you'll wish you were swinging from a noose. -- MR

 
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