Pete Yorn

In 2009, Los Angeles singer-songwriter Pete Yorn released a collaboration with Omaha tunesmith Mike Mogis and a disc of duets with Scarlett Johansson. His latest, a team-up with Pixies leader Frank Black recorded in just five days, is the most appealing of the three: a stripped-raw set of guitar-driven stompers sung in a direct, desperate yowl. "Paradise Cove I" and "Always" chug along with a Nineties alt-rock flair, though Yorn saves room for gentler tunes like the lovelorn, acoustic-strummed "Stronger Than." But while Black may have brought out Yorn's inner rocker, he hasn't transformed him into a poet: "Rock crowd, throw your arms around me," he sings earnestly on "Rock Crowd." "I feel glad when y'all surround me."

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