Making a list? Checking it twice? Here are some guidelines to keep befuddled spouses, parents of teenagers and others on the right track.

** 1/2 COUNTING CROWS, "Recovering the Satellites," DGC. The band continues to wear its diverse influences on its sleeve, but there are precious few of the killer hooks that made parts of its debut irresistible despite a lack of originality.

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Albums and other items in the Gift Guide are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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