Big beats, beautiful music in new releases

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imageProfessional fraternity man by day and roving entertainment reporter by night, Buck Cooke moved to Atlanta in 2000. Armed with a passion for pop culture and rabid appetite for music, Buck scours the entertainment landscape for treasures in music, TV and cinema.

A host of new releases includes home-grown talent, from Keri Hilson to the Indigo Girls and Michelle Malone, who performs at Eddie’s Attic Saturday. There’s also country and a taste of dance, too, in this fresh crop of CDs.

imageARTIST: Keri Hilson
TITLE: “In a Perfect World”

Atlanta-native Hilson is mainly known as the go-to girl for Timbaland (“The Way I Are”), but she also is a successful songwriter, penning hits for Mary J. Blige, the Pussycat Dolls and Britney Spears. Hilson finally releases her debut album, which features club-thumping tracks and sexy soft moments. Hilson’s vocals are gorgeous and the album is sure to spawn more hits, like “Turnin’ Me On.”

imageARTIST: Indigo Girls
TITLE: “Poseidon and the Bitter Bug”

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers have been making beautiful music together for over 20 years and their latest album is no exception. “Poseidon” is delightfully consistent and features plenty of examples of the artistry the Girls’ legion of devoted fans expect. Because the Girls sound great with a full band backing them or as an acoustic duo, there are two versions of the album available to satisfy your craving.

imageARTIST: Michelle Malone
TITLE: “Debris”

Blend Bonnie Raitt with Melissa Etheridge and stir in some Jennifer Nettles for good measure. What you get is the perfect description of Malone’s latest album. “Weed and Wine” is obviously a good-time track, as is “Chattahooche Boogaloo,” which calls for a wild girls’ night on the town. Malone wields a rocking guitar lick just as easily as she does a quiet moment (“Candle for the Lonely,” “14th Street and Mars”), making her one of the most under-rated artists around.

imageARTIST: Martina McBride
TITLE: “Shine”

Upbeat country accompanies McBride’s clear vocals on this album, which is packed with 11 tracks. Lead single “Ride” kicked off the hits sure to come from this album, which will no doubt include the midtempo “I Just Call You Mine” and the epic “What Do I Have to Do.” McBride wisely includes music that compliments her vocal strengths on “Shine.”

imageARTIST: Stevie Nicks
CD TITLE: “Soundstage”
DVD TITLE: “Live in Chicago”

In 2007, Nicks recorded a live CD and DVD that are finally out. It’s been worth the wait. “Rhiannon,” “Landslide” and “Stand Back” are included, along with Nicks’ kick-ass cover of “Crash” by Dave Matthews Band. The CD includes 10 tracks and the DVD contains the entire set of 17 tracks. Both are essential for hard-core fans of Nicks. For customers of iTunes, you can purchase a deluxe version of the CD with “Edge of Seventeen” and “Gold Dust Woman.”

imageARTIST: Keith Urban
TITLE: “Defying Gravity”

Urban follows McBride’s lead and serves up a healthy serving of accessible country music on his fifth studio album. Wildly successful single “Sweet Thing” is a perfect example of the exuberant feel of “Defying Gravity,” which is packed with love songs. From the endearing country/pop of album opener “Kiss the Girl” to the heartfelt “Thank You,” Urban delivers one of his strongest albums to date.

imageARTIST: Junior Vasquez
TITLE: “Generation Next”

Vasquez delivers big beats, wicked synths, and killer vocals on his latest compilation album, once again showing why he’s one of the biggest names in dance music. Highlights include the anthem “Body Rock” by Oceana and the slick “Freeze” by Bimbo Jones. While the physical CD won’t be in wide-release until April 7, iTunes features two versions: a continuous mix of all 14 tracks and an unmixed version.

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