It’s a fun week for new releases. Green Day are hoping to remind us of their punk rock origins, while Norah Jones continues to be quietly brilliant. Meanwhile, the Rick Astley album that 100,000 British people thought was worth buying finally makes it to U.S. shores. This is gonna be a wild one, people!
Green Day – Revolution Radio
Four years ago, Green Day engaged the ambitious task of releasing three albums in a very short period of time. Those albums — Uno!, Dos!, and Tre! all had their moments, and if they had scaled it down a single album, or even a double album, it could have been something great. Unfortunately, the project as a whole was just too bloated, and it was a reminder of what can happen when a band convinces themselves that every song they write is a masterpiece. Thankfully, the band is back with Revolution Radio, which looks to be a welcome return to their punk roots.
The early returns on this one have been decidedly positive, as lead single “Bang Bang” has topped Billboard’s Mainstream Rock charts while simultaneously reminding us that even with the rock operas and triple albums, Green Day, at their core, are still a punk rock band. Twelve years ago, they released American Idiot in the midst of the Bush Administration and were able to brilliantly capture a tense national mood. Now, with the possibility of a Trump presidency looming in the background, Green Day are once again here at a time when the country is divided and angry. Whether this album will carry the same historical relevance remains to be seen, but if nothing else, it should be a stark reminder of the edge Green Day’s music can carry when they are at the top of their game.
Norah Jones – Day Breaks
There’s a bit of a connection here; the last time we heard from Norah Jones was three years ago, when she collaborated with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong on Foreverly, a collection of lesser-known Everly Brothers songs. The album wasn’t a massive hit, but it was quietly enjoyed by everyone willing to seek it out. Now, Jones is back with her first solo album since 2012’s Little Broken Hearts.
In the time since Jones swept the Grammys with Come Away With Me, she has revealed herself to be a surprisingly versatile performer. While jazz is her primary genre, she has prove herself quite adept in the folk mode, as demonstrated by 2009’s underrated The Fall. This record is a strong representative of her range, as she covers songs by both Duke Ellington and Neil Young. Over the last 15 years, Jones has shown that her debut was no fluke, and that she is one of the most talented and consistent artists working today. (Full album is streaming here on Apple Music.)
Johnny Jewel – Home
Johnny Jewel is one of the most prolific artists around, and he’s in several bands, all of whom operate on his own Italians Do It Better label. His latest work is the soundtrack to the Belgian independent film Home, which features solo work from Jewel, along with new music from Chromatics, and Symmetry, his collaboration with Chromatics member Nate Walker. Fans of Chromatics will still have to wait a bit longer for their next album, the much-anticipated Dear Tommy, but in the mean time, this intriguing album should be able to keep Jewel’s fanbase at bay.
Rick Astley – 50
This album topped the UK charts, and sold more than 100,000 copies. Maybe that was all just part of an elaborate RickRoll, but don’t act like you aren’t curious.