Author

Laura Morgan

Billy Joel’s passionate, at times sappy, songs are the basis of Movin’ Out, a new Twyla Tharp- directed Broadway musical. The ”cast” album rests completely on the talents of singer/pianist/Broadway newcomer Michael Cavanaugh (the other performers are dancers), who squarely churns out the Long Island guy’s hits, from an affecting ”She’s Got a Way” to a cheesy ”Pressure.” Backup vocals and a brass-heavy 10-piece band add a show-tuney gloss to the material’s rock edges, but separated from the show, this feels like a karaoke album.

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This disc will annoy the hell out of Hives-loving hipsters and Linkin Park-obsessed nu-metallers. And that’s its genius – Loudermilk are refreshingly at odds with current trends. Despite the fact that they look like mods, they conjure the spirit of ’80s hair metal. Davey Ingersoll sings in a bratty snarl that would make Vince Neil proud. And gloriously indulgent anthems like ”Elekt” combine the pretension of Smashing Pumpkins with the go-for-broke gusto of Guns N’ Roses. Rawk is back!

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Maybe this modern soul duo should have entitled their second CD Predictable. Though sisters Tina and Erica (neither is a Mary) can sing, they work the same tired hip-hop grooves and lovestruck lyrics as homogenized R&B radio. One thing is incredible about Incredible, though – it’s G-rated. They sing about self-esteem and spiritual devotion (their last CD won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Gospel Album). That won’t earn them a spot on sex-obsessed MTV, but hey, they’ve got connections in higher places.

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Now that Britney wannabes are out of vogue, labels are falling all over themselves for ”substantive” young female singers like Michelle Branch. Even with a full band, Canadian skater-girl Lavigne doesn’t rock harder than her competition; her debut single is pretty mainstream. That’s okay. ”Complicated,” a melodic midtempo tune about the frustrations of being 17, is flawless radio-pop.

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Though the SoCal fivesome have the same catchy, simplistic choruses and jump-up-and-down energy of modern-rock counterparts like Sum 41 and blink-182, they’re not nearly as juvenile. Unabashedly sensitive ballads like ”Globes & Maps” and spunky tracks like ”Punk Rock Princess” offer an alternative to the dumb-ass horny-guy posturing.

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You’ve probably spotted Goffin in the Gap’s TV ads with her mom, legendary singer-songwriter Carole King. While Goffin’s CD proves that she’s inherited her mother’s knack for clever storytelling and singsongy melodies, well-placed trip-hoppy beats keep her basic chick-rock from sounding old-fashioned. But the modern touches don’t always set Goffin apart from any number of contemporary Sheryl Crow wannabes. Sometimes a Circle is sometimes monotonous, sometimes magical.

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To her credit, the onetime van-dwelling Alaskan is clearly not a proponent of the play-hard-to-get philosophy. On her new single, baby-voiced but bold Jewel dares to ask a lover, ”Do you need me like I need you?…Or am I standing still?” Well, if you have to ask…. But while her subject matter is thoroughly clichéd, the song, with its down-home lilt and openhearted sentiment, certainly strikes a chord. ”Standing Still” should please not only Jewel’s gooey flower-girl contingent but anyone who has ever been stuck on the romantic stationary bike.

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Despite her warm, sensuous voice, this soulful singer-songwriter’s sophomore disc is equal parts groove and snooze. Her subtly funky, love-child tunes aim for emotional immediacy, but with their uniform moods and tempos, they end up being as ho-hum as a Lifetime movie. Still, Davis has promise: ”I Want You” succeeds as a palpable expression of desire, and the salvation-seeking ballad ”I Don’t Care” will make even Davis doubters give a darn.

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While the best tracks on Bush’s fourth album (the plaintive ”The People That We Love” and the buzz-riffed ”Headful of Ghosts”) may not be as grabby as past hits ”Everything Zen” and ”Glycerine,” the blustery Brits deliver another sturdy set of radio-ready rock. And compared with the meathead nu-metal set, the band’s quasi-grunge actually sounds alternative – something that couldn’t be said while the likes of Nirvana were still kicking. Chalk it up to Gavin Rossdale’s sexily strained vocals, and lyrics that reach beyond me-against-the-world rock cliches.

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Bush

While the best tracks on Bush’s fourth album, Golden State, (the plaintive ”The People That We Love” and the buzz-riffed ”Headful of Ghosts”) may not be as grabby as past hits ”Everything Zen” and ”Glycerine,” the blustery Brits deliver another sturdy set of radio-ready rock. And compared with the meathead nü-metal set, the band’s quasi-grunge actually sounds alternative – something that couldn’t be said while the likes of Nirvana were still kicking.

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