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Listening Room: Foxboro Hot Tubs (aka Green Day), Scarlett Johansson and more...
Foxboro Hot Tubs, “Stop Drop and Roll!!!” (Jingle Town/ Reprise) ***
With hit ballads like “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” and Grammywinning concept albums like “American Idiot,” Green Day has stepped beyond its punk roots to establish that the San Francisco Bay Area group can be anything it wants — including another band. Foxboro Hot Tubs, which features the three Green Day members and two of its touring adjuncts, is not the first time the trio has gone alter-ego on us; in 2003 it played New Wave music as The Network. Foxboro Hot Tubs seems more ambitious and fully realized, however, a sinewy mid-’60s homage that, from the cover art to the vintage film audio clips preceding some of its 12 tracks, sounds like a random weekly episode of “Little Steven’s Underground Garage.” There are plenty of direct references throughout “Stop Drop ...” the Kinks’ “Tired of Waiting For You” on “Red Tide” and “You Really Got Me” on “Alligator;” the Yardbirds’ “Heart Full of Soul” on “Dark Side of the Night;” the Who’s rendition of “Summertime Blues” on “She’s a Saint Not a Celebrity;” and a colossal collision of the Monkees’ “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” and Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints” on “Sally.” Copious doses of Farfisa organ add to the flavor of these cheerfully retro proceedings, though frontman Billie Joe Armstrong still has his punky sneer intact and, on the sharply grooving “27th Ave. Shuffle,” makes some light social commentary about the general state of the world. Mostly, though, “Stop Drop ...” is 32 minutes and change of good time rock — three-chords and the truth, as it were, except perhaps the identity of the players.
Scarlett Johansson, “Anywhere I Lay My Head” (Atco) **1/2
Considering that she’s a much more ambitious actress, it comes as no surprise that Scarlett Johansson would make a much more interesting album than the Lindsay Lohans and Jennifer Love Hewitts of the world. On “Anywhere ...” Johansson takes on 10 songs from the Tom Waits songbook, along with one original, singing with a kind of impassioned detachment well suited to Waits’ wryly nuanced lyricism. But producer David Andrew Sitek is as much the star here as Johansson, bathing Waits’ sturdy melodies in ethereal washes of keyboard and synthesizer drone, an effect that makes these 11 tracks sound like something out of the soundtrack of Johansson’s breakthrough film, “Lost in Translation.” “Anywhere...” may not make Johansson a rock star, but it certainly holds your attention.
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Yellowjackets and Mike Stern, “Lifecycle” (Heads Up): This collaboration marks the Yellowjackets first album in 15 years to feature a guitarist.
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Mike Zito, “Today” (Electro Groove): An ace band and producer David Z. help the southeast Texas singer-songwriter on his latest release.
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