Green Day, No Doubt top CD reviews

Green Day and Gwen Stefani from No Doubt (AFP, WENN.COM)

Green Day and Gwen Stefani from No Doubt (AFP, WENN.COM)

Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

And the hits just keep on coming: This weekís lineup includes new fare from Green Day, Carly Rae, No Doubt, Nelly, Killers, Kanye, Mika, Michael and many more. The play-by-play:

Green Day

¡Uno!

Pop-Punk

3.5 stars out of 5

Do good things really come in threes? We’re about to find out: ¡Uno! kicks off a trilogy of discs from these Bay Area pop-punks over the coming months. And they’re off to a good start — this back-to-basics entry ditches the high-concept rock operatics in favour of crisp, punchy punk nuggets flecked with classic rock, power-pop, Clashy funk and more. Salud! ¡Dos! is due Nov. 13.

Download: Nuclear Family; Let Yourself Go

No Doubt

Push & Shove

Pop

2 stars out of 5

Settle down, kids. Nothing to get excited about here. The first disc from Gwen Stefani and co. in nearly 11 years is nowhere near as energetic and aggressive as its title. Instead, itís mostly a disappointingly tepid affair, forsaking their signature ska-punk, dancehall and pop-rock for track after track of shimmering midtempo fluff and keyboard-laden balladry. Too little, too late. Too bad.

Download: Settle Down; One More Summer

Carly Rae Jepsen

Kiss

Dance-Pop

3 stars out of 5

Call her savvy. And no maybes about it. Overnight sensation Jepsen shows she’s a cut above the typical teen-popster with her surprisingly enjoyable sophomore album. Setting bubblegum tales of young love and heartache atop sharp sonics that draw on classic new wave and modern dance-pop, Carly Rae creates infectious singles that parents will secretly enjoy as much as their kids.

Download: Guitar String / Wedding Ring; I Know You Have a Girlfriend

Dragonette

Bodyparts

Pop-Rock

3 stars out of 5

“I don’t want to work,” claims Martina Sorbara on Dragonette’s third album. Nice try. From the first shimmering synth tone to the final glammy guitar chord, it’s obvious the former folkie and her mates have laboured long and hard over these meticulously assembled slices of synth-pop and dance-rock. Sometimes the style outweighs the substance, but either way, it gets the job done.

Download: Live in This City; My Work is Done

G.O.O.D. Music

Cruel Summer

Hip-Hop

3.5 stars out of 5

Good things in small packages? Not Kanye West’s style. This comp from his label is a typically outsized outing, as the polarizing rapper pitches a massive bash for Jay-Z, R. Kelly, 2 Chainz, Ghostface Killah and umpteen more VIPs. He may be the host with the most, but the revolving-door roster — and poor quality control on some cuts — prevent West from achieving greatness.

Download: To the World; Cold

The Killers

Battle Born

Heartland Rock

3.5 stars out of 5

Worlds are colliding. Finally. After debuting in 2004 as retro-new wavers — and then taking a left turn into heartland rock — these Las Vegans get it together for album No. 4. Brandon Flowers’ Springsteenish tales of doomed lovers and runaways fuel lush, ’80s-inspired epics constructed from a glistening amalgam of U2ish arena-rock grandeur and synth-pop keyboards. It’s a win-win.

Download: Runaways; A Matter of Time

Nelly Furtado

The Spirit Indestructible

Pop

3.5 stars out of 5

There’s more to life than sex, you know. Six years after the provocative fare of her last English album Loose, Nelly Furtado aims a little higher with her fifth disc. Working with producer Rodney (Darkchild) Jerkins, the songbird looks back to childhood, weighs fame and ponders her bucket list over warmly mellow pop grooves and electronics. The Spirit moves Nelly in the right direction.

Download: Big Hoops (Bigger the Better); Parking Lot

Michael Jackson

Bad 25

R&B

4 stars out of 5

Bad gets better. Or at least bigger. The 25th anniversary edition of Jackson’s 1987 Thriller followup comes in a variety of configurations: A two-disc set that expands the high-tech original with an hour of interesting if inessential demos, foreign-language versions and remixes; a deluxe version with a concert CD / DVD; and pricier versions with souvenirs. Don’t stop till you get enough.

Download: Song Groove (aka Abortion Papers); Price of Fame

Mika

The Origin of Love

Pop

3 stars out of 5

Love means never having to say anything new. Inspired by a blossoming relationship, piano-popster Mika’s third album focuses on romance: New, old, unrequited, obsessive, even intoxicated. Not exactly uncharted waters, admittedly. But Mika’s expanded musical vocabulary — his candy-coloured falsetto pop is augmented by R&B, hip-hop and electronica — helps seal the deal.

Download: Lola; Love You When I’m Drunk

John Hiatt

Mystic Pinball

Roots-Rock

4 stars out of 5

Hiatt can make a great song out of a grocery list. That’s not hype; he literally does it on his 21st album. There’s plenty more where that came from. The singer-songwriter is firing on all cylinders here, tendering a consistently strong set of twisted roots-rock, gnarly blues and heart-piercing Americana balladry with an arched eyebrow and a hickory twang. Pinball deserves multiple replays.

Download: Wood Chipper; My Business

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Jason Collett

Reckon

Indie-Folk

4 stars out of 5

The personal is political. And vice versa. It’s never been truer than on singer-songwriter (and Broken Social Scenester) Collett’s fifth disc, a sombre examination of loss and desperation set in a candlelit land of spare Can-roots and gentle pop-rock. But even when the music is downsized and the mood downbeat, the simple, open-hearted beauty of Collett’s work remains undiminished.

Download: I Wanna Rob a Bank; Black Diamond Girl

Waylon Jennings

Goin’ Down Rockin’: The Last Recordings

Country

3 stars out of 5

Rocking might be a bit of an overstatement. This posthumous album from country outlaw Jennings — featuring bare-bones performances recorded shortly before his 2002 death and fleshed out recently — is quieter than its title implies. But thanks to the 64-year-old icon’s reflective lyrics (“I been wasting time that I can’t spare”) and darkly rich vocals, it still delivers a decent punch.

Download: If My Harley Was Running; I Do Believe

Dave Stewart

The Ringmaster General

Rock

3 stars out of 5

The world might be waiting for a Eurythmics reunion, but not Stewart. The musical multi-tasker and recent Nashville convert continues to keep busy with his second solo disc in as many years. Vocals may not be his forte — so he wisely enlists Joss Stone, Diane Birch, Alison Krauss and others for this assortment of country, Stonesy rock, blues and Southern soul. Loose but likeable.

Download: Girl in a Catsuit; Story of Success

Bettye LaVette

Thankful N' Thoughtful

Soul

3.5 stars out of 5

What a difference half a century makes. In her 50-year career, vocal powerhouse LaVette has covered the waterfront from Armatrading to Zeppelin. And made them her own. On this eclectic document, she adds Tom Waits, Sly Stone, Savoy Brown, Black Keys and more to that list, casually and confidently converting their cuts into superb slices of Southern soul and rock. Solid.

Download: I’m Tired; Everything is Broken

Alt-J

An Awesome Wave

Folk-Step

4 stars out of 5

Yes, they’re named after a computer keyboard command (or the symbol it produces: ∆). And yes, they refer to their fusion of pastoral acoustic and edgy electronic elements as folk-step. If they seem a tad pretentious, well, maybe so. But they’re also daring and distinctive, producing a musical hybrid that recently earned the brainiac Brits a Mercury Prize nomination. Catch the wave.

Download: Breezeblocks; Fitzpleasure

Grizzly Bear

Shields

Indie-Rock

4 stars out of 5

Evolution: Theory or fact? With the Bear, evidence points to the latter. The Brooklyn quartet continue to grow on their fourth disc, honing their artful balance between strong melodies and chorale harmonies, noisy textures and psychedelic squiggles, orchestral beauty and muscular indie-rock. In the process, they achieve the near-impossible: They top their 2009 masterwork Veckatimest.

Download: Speak in Rounds; Gun-Shy

Kreayshawn

Somethin ’Bout Kreay

Hip-Hop

2 stars out of 5

“I got the swag and it’s pumping out my ovaries,” boasts Bay Area rap phenom Kreayshawn on her debut disc. If only that were true. What she really has are a bunch of schoolyard-level rhymes full of stereotypical arrogance, pop culture references and shock value, delivered with a bratty, amateurish voice and underpinned by standard whomping G-rap tracks. It’s a shame about Kreay.

Download: Gucci Gucci; Left Eye

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DVDs

Charlie Daniels Band

Live at Rockpalast

Southern-Rock

3 stars out of 5

The Devil went down to Georgia — and big-hatted, barrel-chested Southern man Daniels went to Germany with his band (including two drummers) in 1980 to tape this 75-minute showcase of slide-guitar boogie, Skynyrd-style rock, fiddle-fired country, bluegrass and more. The sound and video quality are dodgy and there’s no bonus fare, but the muscular performance makes up for it.

George Martin

Produced by George Martin

Documentary

3.5 stars out of 5

For millions, producer George Martin’s story begins and ends with The Beatles. The reality, of course, is different. This 86-minute BBC doc fills the gaps, rewinding Martin’s life and career, from his wartime service and his early work producing comedy records to his later endeavours. But fear not, Beatlemaniacs; there’s still plenty of Fab footage, including chats with Ringo and Paul.

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GARAGE BAND

Mighty Oaks

Toronto, Ont.

www.myspace.com/therealmightyoaks

Well, I guess we know what kind of tree Toronto singer-guitarist Owen Keenan would be. When it comes to what sort of music he makes, the answer is equally straightforward: Sweetly tender pop that’s firmly rooted in the late ’60s and early ’70s, dusted with folk and psychedelia (not to mention a few whistling synthesizers), topped with delicate vocals and performed with unhurried, tasteful understatement. It won’t top the pop charts, but it’s worth a listen.

VERDICT: “Mighty fine.”

3 stars out of 5

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UPCOMING

Oct. 2

Fanatic

Heart

Glad Rag Doll

Diana Krall

good kid, m.A.A.d city

Kendrick Lamar

Born to Sing: No Plan B

Van Morrison

The 2nd Law

Muse

The Connection

Papa Roach

Cheer It's Christmas

Blake Shelton

Transit of Venus

Three Days Grace

Now For Plan A

The Tragically Hip

Glad All Over

Wallflowers

 

 


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