[Travis], The Invisible Band ( * * * ) Arriving a week after fellow U.K. sensation Radiohead, Travis offers a soothing chaser to the bitter medicine in Amnesiac. Unlike their mercurial brethren, these Scottish lads attempt no daring cliff dives, preferring instead to amble across the melodic meadows trod in last year's breakthrough, The Man Who . . . . Singer Fran Healy's vulnerability and the band's folkish guitar pop deliver an antidote to mope-rock in the inviting textures and embraceable melodies of such languid gems as Afterglow and Flowers in the Window. At times, Travis is mellow to a fault, lapsing into listless bliss. But most of The Invisible Band exposes a talent worthy of wider exposure. -- [Edna Gundersen]
R&B: [Alicia Keys], Songs in A Minor ( * * * ) Rarely has a newcomer lived up to the hype the way Keys does. From the almost operatic piano intro to the minimalistic outro, the 19-year-old singer never ceases to surprise and delight. She taps into the blues, soul, jazz and even classical music to propel haunting melodies and hard-driving funk. The stunning first single, Fallin', a bluesy ode to self-destructive love, is only a teaser for what she has to offer. Keys already has a musical, artistic and thematic maturity that many more experienced artists never achieve. That she's only just begun makes it even more amazing. -- Steve Jones
Nothing 'Invisible' about Travis: Neil Primrose, left, Dougie Payne, Fran Healy and Andy Dunlop. [Willie Nelson]: He covers [Kermit] on Rainbow. Keys: Fuses classical, blues, jazz, R&B and hip-hop. AZ: Rapper's 9 Lives has sharp claws.
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