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Best picks Choice selections featuring guitar gurus

John Mayer, "Continuum" (Columbia)

With his latest effort, Mayer fuses inspired guitar playing to soulful, pop-based R&B.

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Umphrey's McGee, "The Bottom Half" (Sci Fidelity)

This just-released, double-disc collection of B-sides and outtakes displays Jake Cinninger's dazzling dexterity as a guitarist. That said, it's on the concert stage that Cinninger truly shines, so check out the band's Web site, www.umphreys.com, to hear prime Cinninger.

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Wilco, "Sky Blue Sky" (Nonesuch)

On this long-awaited album, which drops May 1, guitarist Nels Cline continues to impress with his ability to blend the melodic with the atonal, the beautiful with the brazen and bold.

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Mercury Rev, "The Essential Mercury Rev" (V2)

Grasshopper offers his own take on art-rock throughout this twin-disc set spanning Mercury Rev's career to date.

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Radiohead, "Hail to the Thief" (Capitol)

Guitarist Johnny Greenwood has taught us to expect the unexpected, and throughout Radiohead's 2003 tour de force, he plays like a great painter paints, employing colors -- both textural and melodic -- to highlight the songs.

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Wolfmother, "Wolfmother" (Interscope)

Who says hard-rock guitar playing is dead? Certainly not Andrew Stockdale, who gets his Zeppelin on all over this dense, butt-kicking record.

Viva la guitar!

-- Jeff Miers

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