Paramore, Tegan and Sara, The Strokes, and more

By EW Staff
February 01, 2013 at 05:00 AM EST


New Kids on the Block
”Remix (I Like The)”
The Kids haven’t been new since the Reagan era (and their block probably has a Pinkberry by now), but they’re still young enough at heart to release a peppy makeover jingle with such awkward, Dad-you’re-embarrassing-me lines as ”She was a transformer/Went straight from a 2/To an I-just-wanna-own-ya.” Just don’t try buying her a Zima, guys. C+Adam Markovitz

The driving buzz-saw guitars and spunky-urgent defiance of Hayley Williams’ shout are just disruptive enough to yank you out of your boring suspenders-folk coma and into an old-fashioned mosh pit. You remember those, right? If not, let the snarling lead single from Paramore’s upcoming self-titled album show you the way. A-Ray Rahman

The Strokes
”One Way Trigger”
Some way-back fans won’t like the new sound of the band’s first post-Angles single, but those people haven’t been happy since 2003’s Room on Fire anyway. Besides, the changes here are mainly cosmetic: The suspiciously upbeat synths and Julian Casablancas’ tickled falsetto are still backed by biting guitars and acerbic lyrics like ”Settle down, out of town/Find a dream, shut it down.” B+Ray Rahman


Tegan and Sarah
Canada’s preeminent lesbian sister singer-songwriter duo have gradually been stirring their girls-and-guitars campfire songs into frothier pop concoctions. And their seventh collection flips the turbo switch — the sugary surges of singles-in-waiting ”I Was a Fool” and ”Drove Me Wild” sound like audition tapes for Katy Perry producers. Beneath all that gloss, though, Heartthrob has an underlying toughness and a clear-eyed take on heartbreak. A-Kyle Anderson

Ben Harper with Carlie Musselwhite
Get Up!
The 69-year-old Musselwhite blows a mean harmonica, and his team-up with Harper vibrantly showcases his passionate, fluid style, capable of both easy sensuality and barnstorming catharsis. Harper sings and plucks out hot counter-licks but mostly stays out of the way, perhaps to a fault; his original compositions are so unfussy, they verge on virtual anonymity. BKyle Anderson

Local Natives
After releasing their 2010 debut, Gorilla Manor, which landed on EW’s Albums of the Year list, the dreamy Southern California indie-pop group toured with Arcade Fire and the National, securing their place as the Next Band Likely to Fog Up Your Buddy Holly Glasses. The follow-up sometimes feels like it’s coasting down a long but not-so-steep hill, with warm synth melodies and soaring choruses stretching out forever. Still, it’s a lovely ride. BMelissa Maerz