This week's CD reviews

Stevie Nicks (WENN.COM)

Stevie Nicks (WENN.COM)

Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:25 AM ET

Stevie dreams big, Raphael rolls on, Randy doubles back, Sloan get double crossed and J.Lo looks for love in this week's CD releases.

Stevie Nicks
In Your Dreams

Joke about the title all you want -- Nicks will have the last laugh. Fleetwood Mac's gold dust woman has hit the motherlode on her first studio disc in a decade. While Dave Stewart weaves lush California-rock tapestries and old bandmates/lovers pop in, Stevie works her smoky bray on crystal visions of angels, ghosts, vampires and hitting New Orleans in feathers and lace. Bewitching.

Download: In Your Dreams; Ghosts Are Gone

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Raphael Saadiq
Stone Rollin'

Ray Ray gathers no moss. The Tony! Toni! Toné! alum, former Prince sideman and retro revivalist cannot be contained on his fourth studio disc. R&B and funk, blues and rock, Motown and Philly soul -- Saadiq enthusiastically covers them all over the course of this eclectic 40-minute album. Even better: He pays homage to the old school without sounding like a museum guide.

Download: Heart Attack; Radio

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Randy Newman
Songbook Vol. 2

When your back catalog is as vast, varied and venerated as Newman's, why push your luck trying to top yourself? Instead, the wry tunesmith takes another nostalgic look backward, stripping down a second set of bittersweet laments and sharp-witted odes to southern men, stalkers and smug showoffs -- along with the many women in (and out of) his life. For fans and newbies alike.

Download: Dixie Flyer; My Life is Good

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Sloan
Double Cross

No, Canada's favourite power-popsters aren't feeling betrayed; their 10th CD's title nods to their 20th (XX) anniversary. Appropriately, its 12 short, sharp cuts cover a wide stylistic timespan -- from psychedlic '60s Beatle-pop and Dylanesque blues-rock to slinky '70s-rock sophistication and on to scrappy '80s post-punk and new wave. Another winner -- as if they'd ever do you wrong.

Download: It's Plain to See; I've Gotta Know

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Sixx:A.M.
This is Gonna Hurt

He's got that right. Anyone hoping for a second shot of the grim intensity of Sixx's 2007 Heroin Diaries is in for a painful letdown. The Mötley mastermind trades the glam-slam of his day job for moody modern-rock full of generic riffs from GN'R guitarist DJ Ashba and anthemic choruses from singer James Michael. Detours into overwrought balladry and sunny hip-pop don't help one bit. Download: Lies of the Beautiful People; Help is On the Way

RATING: 2.5 (out of 5)

Jennifer Lopez
Love?


Forget about Love -- it's hard enough to summon up much like for J. Lo's seventh puffball of trend-hopping dance-pop. Apparently taking a few cues from her Idol gig, Jenny from the Penthouse (plus the usual army of writers and producers) engages in some stylistic karaoke, paying homage (to be diplomatic) to M.I.A., Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas and others. What would Simon say?

Download: On the Floor; I'm Into You (feat. Lil Wayne)

RATING: 2.5 (out of 5)

Anvil
Juggernaut of Justice

Nice guys don't always finish last. Or grow up. Striking while the iron is still warm, these T.O. warhorses follow their career-reviving doc with their 14th platter of blast-from-the-past speed metal cheese. Fittingly, the mood is energized and positive, with Lips belting tales of triumph and tenacity over sawtooth riffs and Robb Reiner's frantic bashing. Unleash your inner teen headbanger.

Download: FukenEh!; On Fire

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Warren Haynes
Man in Motion

Warren a soul man? You better believe it. Aided by an all-star band and co-producer Gordie Johnson, the longtime Allmans / Gov't Mule guitar slinger finds his groove on his latest CD. Setting his rich rasp and precise picking atop a foundation of laid-back southern soul laced with keys and horns, Haynes channels the sounds of Memphis and Muscle Shoals. It goes down smooth.

Download: Man in Motion; Your Wildest Dreams

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Roy Orbison
The Momument Singles Collection (1960-1964)

Another Orbison comp? Well, yeah. But hang on; this three-disc set -- released to celebrate what would have been Roy's 75th birthday last month -- isn't just another rehash. It features original mono mixes of his early singles (including all the essential hits), along with a second disc of B-sides and a DVD featuring a nine-song gig from 1965. Just want the hits? Score the A-Sides CD.

Download: Running Scared; Mean Woman Blues

RATING: 5 (out of 5)

Okkervil River
I Am Very Far


As rocks Roky, so will rock Will. Singer-songwriter Will Sheff and his
Austin bandmates' sixth studio album takes some of its cues from last
year's Roky Erickson collaboration True Love Cast Out All Evil.
Looser, weirder, noisier and deliberately favouring mood over
musicianship, it maps out a dreamy, multi-textured musical landscape
beyond the border of Okkervil's comfort zone.
Download: The Valley; Rider

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

letlive.
Fake History

Now and then, hype gets trumped by truth. L.A.s letlive. have been likened to At the Drive-In, Glassjaw, Blood Brothers and Refused. Not only do the post-hardcore crew justify the comparisons on this career-making third CD -- they also carve out their own turf with a fierce amalgam of swaggering power, proggy intricacy, manic intensity and razor-wire songcraft. They're the real deal.

Download: The Sick, Sick 6.8 Billion; Casino Columbus

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Atmosphere
The Family Sign

Home is where the art is. Minneapolis' Slug has been using rap as therapy for years -- but his sixth CD takes it to a new level, focusing on family strife in the form of domestic abuse, broken homes and drunk dads. Producer Ant (and a new full-time keyboardist and guitar player) complements his bleak introspection with subdued grooves and stark but stylish sonics. Tough love.

Download: Became; She's Enough

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Miracle Fortress
Was I the Wave?


Try Miracle Fortress of Solitude. Montreal multi-instrumentalist Graham Van Pelt -- also Think About Life's main man -- apparently holes up in his bedroom to craft MF's lush synth-pop and sweet psychedelia. On his second CD, he also spends time dancing quietly with himself, layering soulful crooning and gently funky basslines over low-impact beats. One is the loveliest number.

Download: Tracers; Everything Works

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

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Tyler the Creator
Tron Cat

Outrageous Los Angeles rap collective OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, or just Odd Future) are inescapable these days. Since you can't beat 'em, you might as well join 'em. Though be warned: This track -- a pitch-black, seriously demented rant from leader Tyler the Creator's upcoming sophomore solo album Goblin -- is a long way from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

hypem.com

8in8
Nighty Night

Cabaret-rock singer-pianist and DIY doyenne Amanda Palmer's latest bit of musical mischief: Recording eight songs in as many hours with Ben Folds, OK Go's Damian Kulash and her hubby Neil Gaiman. They actually cut six tunes in 12 hours, but let's not quibble; the piano-rocking results speak for  themselves. And since you can download it for a buck, it's tough to complain.

music.amandapalmer.net

Frank Turner
Peggy Sang the Blues


British folk-punk troubadour Turner is massive on the other side of the Atlantic; here, not so much. Perhaps his fourth album England Keep My Bones -- out in June -- will give his profile the boost it deserves. Get on the bandwagon early with the help of this strummy, sincerly soaring ode to his  grandmother's homespun wisdom. It's one of two cuts you can sample on the site.

epitaph.com

DVDs

AC/DC
Live at River Plate

AC/DC never change. And that's the point. The rockers' half-dozenth live DVD -- filmed at three Buenos Aires gig on their Black Ice tour -- is a hearty plate of classic-rock comfort food. Angus rocks the shorts and SG; Brian rings the big bell; Phil smokes; Cliff and Malcolm play statue; and 60,000 Argentines pogo in unison as the lads crank out two hours of oldies and goodies. Enjoy.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Johnny Reid
A Place Called Love: Live in Concert

Just in time for Mother's Day, here comes that nice Johnny Reid, ready to sweep Ma off her feet with his rapsy voice, white shoes and casino-style soul revue of songs about love, family, home and hearth. The live DVD is basically an hour-long version of his latest live show, augmented with a couple of rehearsal tracks and a CD "to play in your car." Toss in brunch and you're ready.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)


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