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He's back. But does Justin Timberlake's new single live up to the hype?

Justin Timberlake

Reuters

R&B/POP: Suit & Tie
Justin Timberlake, featuring Jay-Z; streaming here

You ready, J.T.?" Just in time for the flashbulb season, actor and former pop star Justin Timberlake returns to the latter status with a breezy multipart pop boogie about partners and red-carpet apparel. "It's so fly, it's all mine," the SexyBack singer croons high and light on his first new music in more than six years, likely proud of his presentable wife, actress Jessica Biel. "Hey baby, we don't mind all the watching, 'cause if they study close, real close, they might learn something."

Timberlake teased his audience last week with a tweeted message about a Timbaland-produced single that swirls, clanks and hustles smoothly, with a designer-label-dropping verse from Jay-Z thrown in for good measure ("All Saints for my angel/ Alexander Wang, too"). According to an open letter on his website, Timberlake began working quietly on his "next journey" in June of 2012, with the album to come (The 20/20 Experience) being "full of inspiration that I grew up listening to and some new-found muses that I've discovered along the way." Hindsight being 20/20, Suit & Tie seems to come from the vintage closet of R. Kelly, worn impeccably by a fancy-free Timberlake.

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ROCK: Somewhere
By Jimi Hendrix, from the forthcoming People, Hell and Angels (Sony); streaming here

Buddy Miles is on drums and Stephen Stills is on bass, but it is unmistakably Jimi who takes over on a Milky Way blues jam featuring stratospheric lyrical imagery and sky-kissed soloing.

BLUES: Wake Up
By The Harpoonist & The Ax Murderer, from Checkered Past; streaming here

The Vancouver duo struts and jukes to the hip-hugging swagger of the Black Keys, all sweaty and swampy. The new thang on the Canadian blue scene looks to make a killing at this year's Maple Blues Awards at Toronto's Koerner Hall on Jan. 21.

ELECTRO-POP: Kids Gets Away
By Jamaican Queens; streaming here

Emerging from the post-industrial rubble of Detroit comes a sort of post-Bowie mash and slash of tripping beats, bleeps, synths and acoustic strums. Lyrics are about children taking knives to tires and faces, but don't worry – the kids of Motown are doing alright.

ROCK: People of The Sticks
By The Besnard Lakes, from the forthcoming Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO (Jagjaguwar); streaming here

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The Montreal space rockers set sail in pop directions, with a psychedelic shimmer and jangle replacing the troupe's trademark Beach Boys infatuation.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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