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The Listening Room: Green Day, No Doubt and more...
As Green Day nears the end of the first of three new albums coming out during the next four months, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong asks "Where the hell is the old gang at?" Interestingly, Green Day IS the old gang on "Uno!" The 12-song set isn't just the San Francisco Bay Area punk band's first new album in three years but is its first non-concept album since the turn of the century, following the Grammy Award-winning operatic opuses "American Idiot" (2004) and "21st Century Breakdown" (2009). It's the sound of a band liberated, bashing away in a basement or garage with an exuberance that recalls its earliest work, and certainly the multi-platinum 1994 breakthrough "Dookie." Armstrong certainly has plenty of angst in his pants, and elsewhere, but this far along the disaffected punk of the 90s delivers it all with a sly grin and a knowing, "this too shall pass" assurance, which lets him sound more committed to the next guitar riff than to his tribulations. "Nuclear Family" kicks off "Uno!" with an "American Idiot"-like urgency, a declaration that "I just want some action!" and a bit of social commentary, while "Troublemaker" boasts a mid-60s trippiness right down to its fuzzy guitar solo and the wickedly tongue-in-cheek "Kill the DJ" brings bits of funk and ska into the mix. "Carpe Diem," "Fell For You," "Angel Blue" and "Sweet 16" are the sweetly melodic, dynamic and deceptively effortless slices of pop-punk that were once Green Day's stock in trade, and "Stay the Night" and "Rusty James" are as polished as they are propulsive. With "Dos!" (Nov. 13) and "Tre!" (Jan. 15) looming, it appears that Green Day will keep us happily moshing well into the new year.
No Doubt, "Push and Shove" (Interscope) 2.5 stars
Much has changed on the musical landscape during the 11 years since No Doubt's last album, but the group hasn't -- at least not much. "Push and Shove" finds the quartet in much the same style-hopping mode as it was on 2001's "Rock Steady," still fond of ska (the frenetic "Settle Down," the smooth "Sparkle" and the somewhat messy title track) but even more committed to pop, showing off Gwen Stefani's pipes on torchy tunes such as "Easy" and the angsty lament "Undone." "One More Summer," "Gravity," "Undercover" and "Heaven" are tuneful, full-bodies anthems and "Dreaming the Same Dream" leans to the lush side of New Wave,, while Stefani holds her own with club divas like Madonna, Lady Gaga and Robyn on the forceful, clubby thump of "Looking Hot." The new tricks are subtle, keeping "Push and Shove" fresh enough to snare new fans while still familiar enough to hang on to the old(er) crowd.
New & Noteworthy:
As I Lay Dying, "Awakened" (metal Blade): The San Diego headbangers recruited hardcore specialist Bill Stevenson of the Descendants to produce their sixth studio album at his Blasting Room studio in Colorado.
The Bad Plus, "Made Possible" (eOne): The jazz trio recorded its eighth studio album in upstate New YOrk, paying tribute to the late Paul Motian on the track "Victoria."
Joe Bonamassa, "Beacon Theatre: Live From New York" (J&R Adventures): The guitar ace's latest live set features guest appearances by John Hiatt, Paul Rodgers and Beth Hart.
Jonathan Butler, "Grace & Mercy" (Rendezvous): The South African guitarist stays topical but optimistic on this set of new compositions.
Shemekia Copeland, "33 1/3" (Telarc International): The blues and R&B songstress taps material from Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke and her father, Johnny Clyde Copeland, on her latest release.
Deadmau5, "Album Title Goes Here" (Mau5trap/Ultra): The Canadian DJ teams with Cypress Hill, My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way, Imogen Heap and more on his sixth set of original material.
Kurt Elling, "1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project" (Concord Jazz): The jazz vocalist takes on music created by New York songwriters such as Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Paul Simon and others.
Euge Groove, "House of Groove" (Shanachie): The eighth studio album from the Maryland-born saxophonist who was born Steven Eugene Grove.
Lupe Fiasco, "Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1" (1st & 15th/Atlantic): The Chicago rapper is joined by Bilal, Poo Bear, Casey Benjamin and others on his fourth studio effort.
Steve Harris, "British Lion" (UMe): The first-ever solo album from the Iron Maiden co-founder and bassist.
John Hiatt, "Mystic Pinball" (New West): The veteran singer-songwriter recruited hard rock producer Kevin "Caveman" Shirley (Aerosmith, Iron Maiden) for his 21st studio album.
Bettye LaVette, "Thankful N' Thoughtful" (Anti-): The Michigan-born singer interprets songs by Bob Dylan, the Black Keys, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Sly Stone and others to celebrate her 50th anniversary in show business.
Medeski Martin & Wood, "Free Magic" (Indirecto): The adventurous trio stretches its improvisational skills over five tracks on this in-concert set.
Mumord & Sons, "Babel" (Glassnote): The British folk quartet stays the course with a sophomore album that will certainly please fans of 2009's "Sigh No More."
Jake Owen, "Endless Summer" (RCA Nashville): Should we point out to the burgeoning country star that this four-song EP comes out a lot closer to fall than to summer?
Tristan Prettyman, "Cedar + Gold" (Capitol): The California singer-songwriter breaks a four-year recording hiatus with her fourth full-length album.
Lee Ritenour, "Rhythm Sessions" (Concord): The guitar virtuoso recruited all-stars such as Chick Corea, George Duke, Stanley Clarke and others to serve in his rhythm sections for this release.
Richie Sambora, "Aftermath of the Lowdown (Dangerbird): The Bon Jovi guitarist's third solo album includes a co-write with Elton John's partner Bernie Taupin on the track "Weathering the Storm."
Pete Seeger & Lorre Wyatt, "A More Perfect Union" (Appleseed); Pete Seeger, "Pete Remembers Woody" (Appleseed): He may be 93, but Seeger is hardly slowing down as evidenced by these two releases, which feature guest appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and more.
Ricky Skaggs, "Music To My Ears" (Skaggs Family): The bluegrass and country traditionalist pays tribute to Doc Watson with "Tennessee Stud" from this new collection.
Angie Stone, "Rich Girl" (Saguaro Road): The soul singer's sixth studio album includes 14 new songs plus an interlude featuring actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner.
Various Artists, "Re-Machined: Deep Purple Tribute" (Eagle Rock): An all-star cast -- Chickenfoot, Carlos Santana, Metallica, former member Glenn Hughes and more -- pays tribute to Deep Purple's most famous album.
From The Vaults: Emerson, Lake & Palmer, "Emerson, Lake and Palmer (Deluxe Edition)," "Tarkus (Deluxe Edition)" (Shout! Factory); Waylon Jennings, "Goin' Down Rockin: The Last Recordings" (Saguaro Road); Gary Moore, "Blues For Jimi: Live in London" (Eagle Rock); R.E.M., "Document (25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)" (Capitol/I.R.S.); Merle Saunders and Jerry Garcia, "Keystone Companions: The Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings" (Fantasy)
Soundtracks: "Carrie: The Musical (Premiere Cast Recording)" (Ghostlight); Various Artists, "Frankenweenie," "Frankenweenie Unleashed" (Disney)
Holiday Albums: Anuna, "Christmas With Anuna" (Danu); The Beach Boys, "Christmas Harmonies (Stereo Remaster)" (Capitol); Jeremy Camp, "Christmas: God With Us" (CMG/EMI); Oak Ridge Boys, "Christmas Time's A-Coming" (Spring House); The Rat Pack, "Christmas With the Rat Pack" (Capitol); Kenny Rogers, "Christmas Live!" (CMG/EMI); Various Artists, "Now That's What I Call Today's Christmas!" (EMI)
New Music DVDs: Freddie Mercury, "The Great Pretender" (Eagle Rock); Pat Metheny, "Orchestrion" (Eagle Rock); The Who, "LIve in Texas '75" (Eagle Rock)
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