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Culture Jamming

Top Pop Culture Picks for the Week

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TOP PICK

Ben Gibbard

Former Lives

(Barsuk)

Death Cab for Cutie singer Ben Gibbard’s vocal delivery is hard to disguise. The guy practically over-enunciates every word. Not that that is a bad thing. His lyrics have a natural poeticism to them, and that’s certainly the case with the songs on this solo album, his full-length debut. The riveting duet with Aimee Mann is a particular highlight.

MUSIC

Smoke & Jackal

Smoke & Jackal

(RCA)

Though tracks such as “No Tell” and “OK, OK” still have some of that Southern rock swagger, Kings of Leon’s Jared Followill goes for something a little more Gothic and spooky (think Nick Cave) on this fine six-song collaboration with singer-guitarist Nick Brown.

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