Sound Advice 

click to enlarge Green Day

Green Day



File next to: Bad Religion, blink-182

¡Tré! is the most "rock" record of Green Day's 2012 trilogy, as it pushes aside the punkish leanings of ¡Uno! and the garage brashness of ¡Dos! for more straight-ahead arena/radio-friendly fare. The opening tracks make that shift immediately clear. The opening power ballad "Brutal Love" is followed by "Missing You," which adds a little punk drive to the big guitars and choruses, as well as the larger-than-life "8th Avenue Serenade." ¡Tré! contains some strong material — the self-referential "X-Kid," the hook-filled "Sex, Drugs & Violence," and the anthemic "Dirty Rotten Bastards"— but there's some filler here as well. Ultimately, it's ¡Dos! that stands out as the best of the trilogy, followed by ¡Uno!, with ¡Tré! trailing behind. That doesn't mean ¡Tré! is awful; more just OK. — L. Kent Wolgamott

click to enlarge Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys

Girl on Fire


File next to: Diana Ross, Beyoncé

Now married and a mother, Alicia Keys sings optimistically about a "Brand New Me" and a "New Day" on Girl on Fire. But the better news is that Keys' fifth album isn't really all that new. Once again, she plays to her strengths — beautifully sung ballads and uplifting anthems done with class, maturity and assurance. Among the highlights of this satisfying effort are the Motown sound of the Bruno Mars collaboration "Tears Always Win," the tender gospel of "Not Even the King," and the guest appearances by Maxwell and Gary Clark on "Fire We Make." While there was really no need to bring Nicki Minaj along on the title cut, Keys pairs well with most of her guests, right down to her little boy, Egypt, who turns up on the end of "When It's All Over." — L. Kent Wolgamott

click to enlarge The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones

GRRR! Greatest Hits


File next to: Faces, Muddy Waters

The Stones are no strangers to greatest hits packages, having already released about two dozen, as well as four separate box sets. What GRRR! does is to put 48 of the best Rolling Stones songs, plus two new tracks, into a 50-year anniversary collection that covers the band's catalog with more depth than most greatest hits albums. There are early covers like "Little Red Rooster" and "Not Fade Away," as well as choice album cuts like "She's A Rainbow," "Street Fighting Man" and "Waiting on a Friend." Plus it doesn't hurt to have the two new songs — "Doom and Gloom" and "One More Shot" — which are both solid, if rather stereotypical, Stones tunes. As for the rest of the songs, it's pretty much one classic after another from one of rock's truly iconic bands. — Alan Sculley


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