The Alrights High School

There’s little as potentially cringe-inducing as a heartfelt, well-meaning band trying to mix rock with hip-hop or soul. C’mon, the combination brings to mind all sorts of major embarrassments: funny hats, shallow political rhetoric, the Philosopher Kings. Minnesota’s the Alrights overcome this association because their hip-hop flecked rock/soul fusion is thoroughly infused with hooks and tough-to-shake grooves. High School, their debut LP, is a diverse set that benefits from its wanderlust. The Alrights move from the lilting baroque pop of "Heaven Sends Her Regards” to the off-kilter semi-rap of "Validation.” Not everything works so well — opener "Call Her Name” sounds like a Guitar Hero bonus track — but the Alrights’ willingness to take risks is a big part of their charm. (City Canyons)