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Cinder Road

Album: Superhuman (Caroline)

In stores: Now

Why we care: We saw this Timonium, Md., band open for Chris Daughtry, and the suburban dirtball gene in our DNA immediately kicked into overdrive. Someone fetch the AquaNet! Cinder Road can't be much older than our rippiest pair of Levis, but it plays like '80s hair metal gods, all thrusts and licks and midnight howls.

Why we like it: First of all, lead singer Mike Ruocco looks really good with his shirt off, an important detail for many of our readers. The girls-girls-girls lyrics are about as deep as our morning bowl of Cap'n Crunch, but who cares: Hirsute rock and sincere poetry never mixed anyway. This is the headbanger equivalent of comfort food.

Reminds us of: Ratt 'n' Roll!!!

Download these: I'm So Sorry and Bad Excuse

Grade: B+

Interpol

Album: Our Love to Admire (Capitol)

In stores: Now

Why we care: To these New York indie-poppers, displaying raw emotion is akin to playing footsie with a beartrap. Romantic happiness doesn't come easy for this quartet. Although they've added a cinematic sheen on this album, Interpol still prefers cold, prickly, robotic landscapes - and then, when you least expect it, they'll reveal the smallest flicker of warmth, just enough to take your breath away.

Why we like it: With the plodding drums, smileless keyboards and wiry guitars, opening song Pioneer to the Falls sounds like another gray day in Interpol Land. That is, until three minutes in, when singer Paul Banks breaks his monotone and gushes: "You fly straight into my heart / Girl I know you try." It's pure minimalistic beauty. Later, he laments "there's no 'I' in threesome," but finds comfort in being the odd man out.

Reminds us of: R.E.M., if Michael Stipe were a cyborg

Download these: Pioneer to the Falls and The Heinrich Maneuver

Grade: A

Plain White T's

Album: Every Second Counts (Hollywood/Fearless)

In stores: Now

Why we care: This Chicago quintet just went No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 thanks to acoustic hit Hey There Delilah. The unrequited love song is gentle and catchy - and something tells me singer-songwriter Tom Higgenson was listening to a lot of Fountains of Wayne when he wrote it. Delilah has been the top download on iTunes for awhile now, but here's the question: Are these guys one-hit wonders?

Why we like it: Delilah, which first appeared on a 2005 album (and is a bonus track on this disc), is the catchiest thing here. But the rest of the album is likable enough, especially if you're 15 and shop at Hot Topic. The influences are easy to pick out: Blink-182, Sum 41. This is crank-it-up mall rock, not the best of its kind, but not the worst, either.

Reminds us of: If Green Day soundtracked High School Musical

Download these: Our Time Now and Hey There Delilah

Grade: B-

SONG OF THE WEEK

Colbie Caillat

Song: Bubbly

Album: Coco (Universal Republic)

In stores: Now

Why we care: We're surprised it took so long: a female Jack Johnson. SoCal's Caillat is a surf-crunchy peace chick with a killer tan and a mellow vibe. She's hot - but she's also down-to-earth. Or so she sings.

Why we like it: " 'Cause every time I see your bubbly face / I get the tinglies in a silly place." Once autumn hits, Caillat's power to charm will probably fade like an August tan. But Bubbly is a good song for summer, wispy and goofy and as durable as a junior high romance.

Reminds us of: Jessica Biel, but with talent.

Song grade: B-

Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.

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