Pete Yorn

Back & Forth

(Columbia)

When a performer makes a change to his or her sound, the results can go either way. In the case of Pete Yorn, it appears that a gentler, more Americana sounding set of songs definitely works. The change is not really all that drastic, but it is a departure from Yorn's previous releases. "Don't Wanna Cry" is about as sweet as pop singles get, and yet still has an indie feel, almost as if it came from Wilco's first album. In fact the first half of the CD has a very Wilco, alt-country feel before transitioning into a California rock sound. Some of "Back & Forth's" better tunes include "Social Development Dance," "Shotgun," and especially "Last Summer," which sounds like the best song Tom Petty never put on "Damn the Torpedoes." Change is not always good, but in the case of Pete Yorn's current sound, the results are quite favorable.

Download These: "Don't Wanna Cry," "Social Development Dance," "Last Summer"

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs

Under The Covers Vol. 2

(Shout!Factory)

It has been three years since Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs last joined musical forces. The fruits of that round of labor, "Under the Covers Vol. 1," were sublime, with Hoffs and Sweet covering an impressive array of hits from the 60's. The duo now turns their attention to the 70's and the results are as good as that first attempt. Kicking off with the Grateful Dead's "Sugar Magnolia," Hoffs and Sweet tackle tunes by Todd Rundgren ("Hello It's Me," "Couldn't I Just Tell You"), Bread ("Everything I Own"), Big Star ("Back of a Car"), and Derek & The Dominos ("Bell Bottom Blues"). Dahni Harrison sits in on the cover of his father's "Beware of Darkness," Steve Howe of Yes contributes some great guitar work on "I've Seen All Good People," and Lindsey Buckingham sits in for one of his Fleetwood Mac tunes, "Second Hand News." There are few performers who can blend their voices in the way Sweet and Hoffs do here. The standout tune on the CD is "Here Comes My Girl," which is easily one of Tom Petty's most underrated songs. Sweet nails the cover, talking through the verses much like Petty does, and then putting everything behind the chorus.

Download These: "Here Comes My Girl," "Maggie May," "Second Hand News"

Amore' Rayne

Girl Like Me

(Blue Diamond)

Far too often the focus on the local music scene tends to stay on the various rock bands that perform in area clubs. Charleston also has a thriving R&B and hip-hop community, and one of its more visible members right now is Amore' Rayne. Rayne's previous release, "Journey," won a slew of indie awards, and listening to her latest effort, "Girl Like Me," it would appear that Rayne should probably be clearing off some space in her trophy case. Employing elements of Missy Elliott, Kelis and Beyonce, the local artist writes a lot of her own material and has a great voice. Standout tracks on "Girl Like Me" include "Super Star," "Soul Mate," and "Show Off." The production on the CD is professional, the music is great, and folks should definitely keep an eye on Rayne as her star continues to rise.

Download These: "Super Star," "Soul Mate," "Show Off"