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4Play: The Cars, Stevie Nicks, Matthew Morrison, Jennifer Lopez

Kristi Kates - May 9th, 2011
The Cars - Move Like This - Hear Music
Back after nearly a quarter-century out of the loop as a band, ‘80s hipsters The Cars reconfigure their jittery, poppy brand of new wave into a slightly more modernized set that’s still just retro enough to bring back their old fans while most likely snagging a few new ones, as well. The synths, jagged guitars, and distinctive Ric Ocasek vocals are all present and ready to be called to order within a series of well-constructed pop songs reminiscent of Devo, Talking Heads, and, well, The Cars of yesteryear. “Sad Song” debuts first with its accompanying Rene-Magritte-meets-the-’80s video; production by Jacknife Lee adds consistancy.
 


Stevie Nicks - In Your Dreams - Reprise
Written and tracked at Nicks’ own home in L.A. with co-production by Alanis Morrisette cohort Glen Ballard and Eurythmic Dave Stewart, Nicks’ latest is notable in that her voice and songwriting are perhaps the only two consistent elements that pull all of these tracks together to make a recognizable Stevie Nicks album. It’s interesting and admirable that at this point in her career, Nicks chose to do quite a bit of sound experimenting, and it works for the most part, from the synths on “Everybody Loves You” to the wall of guitars on “Ghosts Are Gone,” the string-graced “Italian Summer,” and the Americana-seasoned “Cheaper Than Free.”
 


Matthew Morrison - Matthew Morrison - Island
Gleeksters will recognize the charismatic Morrison from his role as teacher Will on the hugely popular TV series Glee. Others, however, may not find this album compelling enough to further seek out the actor/singer (Morrison actually had a ton of Broadway experience before being cast on the television show.) While Morrison has a pleasant enough singing voice, and collaborated with the likes of producer Espionage and guest performers Gwyneth Paltrow and Elton John, his own performances are somewhat tepid; lead single “Summer Rain” sets the vanilla tone by being reminiscent of a late-night infomercial “Romantic Pop Hits” album.
 

Jennifer Lopez - Love? - Island
J-Lo may be a multi-tasking performer, with her singing, acting, producer, fashionista, and American Idol judge roles all woven together; but perhaps she’s trying to focus on too many things at once to the detriment of some. Lopez’ latest album, while sure to be a sensation at the clubs, simply doesn’t have enough weight to make much of an impression elsewhere, nor are the tracks forward enough to sit beside more modern artists, and even the heavy production can’t disguise her thin voice. “On the Floor” and “Hypnotico” are, again, at least suitable for the dance floor, but the rest are tracks that will likely be forgotten a year from now.
 
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