Salve Regina.

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If Jamie Kennedy can blow up, then Regina Spektor needs to explode. The singer-songwriter had been known for her downtown performances as part of NYC's anti-folk scene, as well as for being a FOTS (Friend of the Strokes; she opened for them at the State Theatre a few years ago). But with Begin to Hope, released last June on Sire, Spektor's made a record that's as perfect for indie pop as it is for the Hot AC radio format.

Spektor sounds great on your iPod next to Feist, Psapp, and Martha Wainwright. But with the help of David Kahne's slick - but not too slick - production, singles like "On the Radio," "Better," the beautiful ballad "Samson," and her new jam "Fidelity" work wonderfully as fare totally ready for mainstream outlets like VH-1 and, locally, WDVD. (That station isn't likely to ever play anything as unique and cool as Spektor's music, but I'm just saying that they could if they wanted to.) Piano is still Spektor's main instrument, but her music box melodies are matched to subtle drum and synth programming and slight electronic effects for a sound that's so much cooler than Dido. Rock Begin to Hope in your cube and co-workers will be like woah.

Plus, as accessible as it is, Regina never loses her flair for little lyrical details. "On the Radio" references G 'n' R's "November Rain." Awesome.

Her site has music, video and tour dates. (She'll be at St. Andrew's in October.)

JTL

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