With only eight tracks (seven if you subtract the cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah) and less than 30 minutes, Rockwall native and American Idol alum Castro doesn't give himself much room to impress with his major-label debut. The affable, folk-pop tunes, constructed with lots of outside help, pale in comparison to the country-leaning You Can Always Come Home. If Castro ever tires of making cougars swoon, he might have a future in Nashville.
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Mexico City outfit Maldita Vecindad returns with its first studio release in 12 years and it's just like old times. The group's ferocious blend of ska and punk spiked with jazz, hip-hop, mariachi and other Latin flavors hasn't mellowed. In fact, this may be the band's best album since 1991's landmark El Circo. From the infectious opening El Pais de No Pasa Nada to the fútbol anthem Fut Callejero, Circular Colectivo doesn't slow down.
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Raymond v. Raymond
Usher's latest disc has all the elements of his earlier albums. There's the less-than-subtle autobiographical relationship track -- in this case, it's a song about divorce ( Papers). And in the vein of 2004's Confessions, an apologetic Usher spills the beans about cheating on Foolin' Around. While it's clear he underestimates his ability to do better in the fidelity department, it seems the singer has limited himself musically as well.
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