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I spent the summer of 1989 with Lloyd Cole. He wasn’t traveling with me by rail across Europe, but it felt as if he were cooling in coach, because his Mainstream cassette rarely left my Walkman. I kept trying to hang with Cole in the ’90s, but, due to record-company problems, the funny, erudite singer-songwriter with the deep croon didn’t get out much. That’s changed now, with a fresh record label and a backlog of King Cole hitting all at once: the lost album, Etc.; the ambient record, Plastic Wood; and the new Music in a Foreign Language, which ranks among his best. Get reacquainted when Cole plays with Dave Derby at 7:30 p.m. at the Birchmere, 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $19.50. (202) 432-7328. (Christopher Porter)