Picks and Pans Main: Music

updated 03/28/2011 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 03/28/2011 01:00AM

R.E.M.

Collapse into Now |

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ALT-ROCK

CRITIC'S CHOICE

"Let's sing and rhyme/ Let's give it one more time/ Let's show the kids how to do it/ Fine, fine, fine." So sings Michael Stipe on "All the Best," a crunching rocker that cranks up R.E.M.'s 15th(!) studio album. Indeed, the Athens, Ga., boys are still doing just fine, thank you very much, 28 years after making their debut with '83's college-radio classic Murmur. Collapse into Now consolidates on the rebuilding done by '08's Accelerate after the downturn of the Up/Reveal/Around the Sun era. Like Accelerate, the set is produced by Jacknife Lee, who once again provides a sonic jolt on guitar-revved tracks such as "Mine Smell Like Honey." Elsewhere, '91's Out of Time is recalled on cuts like the midtempo, mandolin-laced "It Happened Today" (featuring Eddie Vedder on harmony vocals). While there isn't really anything new-and there isn't the kind of truly transcendent moment that transforms a very good album into a great one-this will surely satisfy fans nostalgic for more of "then" than "now."

Lupe Fiasco

Lasers |

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HIP-HOP

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