By Chuck Arnold Ralph Novak Lesley Messer
April 23, 2007 12:00 PM

THE ACADEMY IS … Santi: This band comes from the same school of emo rock as fellow Chicagoans and former tourmates Fall Out Boy. But they’re not quite ready to graduate to FOB’s level. Although the quintet’s second CD packs some punk-pop punch, their overall approach is fairly academic.

RICH BOY Rich Boy: The debut from this Alabama emcee is rich in Southern-style bangers such as the booming “Boy Looka Here” and the Top 10 hit “Throw Some D’s,” an ode to the big and blinged-out car rims made by Dayton Wire Wheels. And with John Legend riding shotgun, Rich Boy changes gears smoothly with the soulful street reflection of “Ghetto Rich.”

KAISER CHIEFS Yours Truly, Angry Mob: After predicting a riot on their 2005 debut, Employment, these neo-new wavers are back to incite more ’80s revelry. On zippy tracks like “Everything Is Average Nowadays,” they display uncommon catchiness while scoring a Smiths-esque triumph on the ballad “Love’s Not a Competition (But I’m Winning).”