The big finish of last year's comedy High Fidelity arrives when the snarling, hyperactive record-store clerk played by comic actor Jack Black delivers a soulful rendition of the Marvin Gaye song Let's Get it On. He can sing!, the viewer gasps. The pleasures of Tenacious D (Epic), the self-titled debut from a rock duo composed of Black and fellow actor/singer/guitarist Kyle Gass, flow from a similar revelation: Black and Gass set themselves up as buffoons with titles like Karate Schnitzel, then proceed to defy expectations with precise guitars, polished vocal harmonies and slamming backup musicians. Their tunes, informed by '80s hard rock, will get frat-boy fists pumping, and their boundless capacity for self-mockery makes most professional rockers look like solemn poseurs.
--By Benjamin Nugent