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Joe and Mike: two guaranteed toe-tappers

So I've recently gotten two new albums, and I want to recommend them to, well, everyone. Because they're both terrific. As different as night and day, you'd think, and yet, somehow they go together.

First up is Joe Jackson's new album, Rain. Erika got this one for me for Valentine's day on - get this - vinyl. Yep. An honest-to-goodness long playing record. You know, click-click, thump, hiss... music.

And great music at that. This is not the wannabe punk Joe Jackson of the "Look Sharp!" days; this is Night and Day pared down to its essentials and aged in its cardboard sleeve about twenty years. Nothing but piano, bass, and drums here, and Joe's instantly recognizable voice, exactly the way you remember it. My favorite cut is "The Uptown Train," a light jazzy little number, Charlie Brown theme music for the new millennium. It just makes you happy. Go ahead and bop your head along to the beat; that's what the music is there for.

And at the opposite site of the technological spectrum, purchased from iTunes with a gift card from my brother, we have Mike Doughty's new album, Golden Delicious. You can pick out Mike's voice a mile off, and his odd street-poetry lyrics confirm it; this is that dude from Soul Coughing.

By now you've probably heard the first single, "27 Jennifers," with its catchy lyrics about high school and its awesome homage to Van Halen's "Jump" at the bridge. Well, the whole album is like that, only different. It's more accessible than Soul Coughing, and the basic musical foundation is piano-bass-drums, just like Joe Jackson. The only trace of Soul Coughing weirdness here is "More Bacon Than the Pan Can Handle," but don't worry, it's only a minute and a half long. This is a record of long titles, though: my two favorites are "I Just Want The Girl In the Blue Dress" and "Navigating By The Stars At Night."

Seriously. Get these two records. Listen to them whenever things seem too hectic. Before long you'll be tapping your feet, blissing out on everything that makes pop music great.