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Radio-Friendly: The Kooks, Carey and More

Esquire music critic Andy Langer discusses the week's new releases, including albums from The Kooks, Mariah Carey, The Black Angels, and former Pixies singer Black Francis.

The Kooks' name comes from a David Bowie song, and the new album Konk is named for the recording studio of The Kinks' Ray Davies. Langer says of the best-selling Kooks, "They write catchy pop songs, and there's nothing wrong with that."

With her 18th No. 1 single, Mariah Carey overtook Elvis Presley for second place on the list of artists with the most chart-topping songs, behind The Beatles. She returns with E=MC2, an album which Langer says brings the artist back with uncharacteristically minimal vocal gymnastics.

Pixies singer Charles Thompson — a.k.a Black Francis, a.k.a. Frank Black — also returns with the EP Svn Fngrs, a mini-album of rock songs recorded in one day. Langer says of the album, "This is sort of his (Frank) Zappa, Captain Beefheart phase, but this is for fans of the Pixies, and that's good enough."

Langer asserts that The Black Angels' motto is "Turn on, tune in, and drone out." He says the Austin band's new album, Directions to See a Ghost, is a "loud and hypnotic" throwback to the trippy, psychedelic rock bands of the '60s.

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