This undated publicity photo provided by EMI Music shows the soundtrack album cover of the film, "This Is 40." (AP Photo/EMI Music) Purchase photo reprints »
This undated publicity photo provided by Warner Bros. Records shows Green Day's album cover for "¡TRE!," part of a trilogy album release. (AP Photo/Warner Bros Records) Purchase photo reprints »
This undated publicity photo provided by Big Machine Records shows the soundtrack album cover for "Nashville," season 1, volume 1, the music of Nashville. (AP Photo/Big Machine Records) Purchase photo reprints »
This undated publicity photo provided by RCA Records shows the new CD cover of "Warriors," by Ke$ha. (AP Photo/RCA Records) Purchase photo reprints »
In this May 15, 2010 photo, Ke$ha is seen backstage after her performance at the 102.7 KIIS FM?s Wango Tango in Los Angeles. Ke$ha's former managers say the pop star squeezed them out of her career under pressure from hit songwriter Dr. Luke. But her lawyer said Friday she simply exercised her rights to fire the managers when they didn't perform. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas) Purchase photo reprints »
RCA Records, $13.99
Don’t hate me — but this new Ke$ha album is good. Kind of really good.
“Warrior,” the 25-year-old’s sophomore release, is entertaining from top to bottom. Ke$ha — along with hitmaker Dr. Luke — has a knack for creating carefree and upbeat electro-pop songs that make you want to have a good time. It’s pure fun.
Yes, some of her lyrics are vapid and need work, but melodically, she’s got a winner, especially on the hooks throughout “Warrior.” The will.i.am-assisted “Crazy Kids,” which kicks off with whistling, is anthemic; “C’mon” is oh-so-fun; and “Thinking of You,” about an ex, transitions pleasantly from its thumping verse to its groovy hook. The lead single, “Die Young,” is just as addictive and was co-written with Nate Ruess of fun.
While Ke$ha deserves credit for putting together a nearly-great album, she’s still Ke$ha — therefore, she has her limitations. The songwriting on “Warrior” — which includes contributions from her mother, Pebe — can be ridiculous. On “C’mon,” she rhymes “saber tooth tiger” with “warm Budweiser.” Also, Auto-tune remains her best friend: When Ke$ha hits a semi-high note, she can’t pull it off without the help of studio manipulation.
Her singing is better on “Wonderland,” a slow groove about how her life has changed since she became a pop star (it gets a great drum assist from Patrick Carney of The Black Keys). And “Warrior” is much better than Ke$ha’s other releases, including her so-so 2010 debut, “Animal,” and her terrible “Cannibal” EP. The “TiK ToK” singer has stretched her 15 minutes — and surprisingly, she’s worth the extra time.
This Is 40 Soundtrack
Capitol Records, $14.99
It doesn’t matter if you’re 40 or a fan of Judd Apatow, the soundtrack for the writer-director’s latest film, “This Is 40,” is worth checking out.
Among its 16 tracks are new and original songs from Fiona Apple, Norah Jones, Graham Parker and Lindsey Buckingham, plus new takes on old songs by Wilco and Ryan Adams.
It’s a folksy blend of indie tunes, and as the film deals with the challenges of marriage and midlife, there are some heart-wrenching ones in the mix.
Jones’ track is a standout, with a happy, dancing piano that contradicts its stark refrain: “Always judging, never loving.” Another highlight is among three new songs Buckingham contributes: “Sick of You” is a showcase for his signature guitar melodies.
There’s bright love on the album, too, most cheerfully on Wilco’s “I Got You,” a new version of the band’s 1996 song with Jones on backing vocals, and Yoko Ono’s fairytale love song, “Yes, I’m Your Angel.”
Songs by composer-producer Jon Brion, Paul McCartney, Loudon Wainwright III, the Avett Brothers and Paul Simon round out the album.
Reprise Records, $9.99
As record sales continue to wane, one has to wonder the logic behind separately releasing a trilogy of albums over the course of three months. Maybe when you’re a punk band coming off a pair of hugely successful concept albums turned into a Broadway smash, you do things a little differently. Still, it’s an unusual way to release your ninth, tenth and eleventh studio albums.
“Tre,” the final installment of the trilogy, out this week, is a bit more diverse than the others, with a slightly mellower and more mature sound that embraces a variety of styles. Imagine 1997’s “Nimrod,” but with more songs like “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” Look no further than the opening and closing tracks to sum it up. There’s the country blues-inspired “Brutal Love” to start, and the piano ballad “The Forgotten” to end.
While a common thread runs through the trilogy, each record is distinctly different.
The first, “Uno,” returns the band to their pre-”American Idiot” sound with a dozen rocking songs that are melodic and highly energetic. The songs are also more mature, with themes like married men on the brink of infidelity. Standout tracks on this riffy guitar assault include “Fell For You” and “Oh Love.”
“Dos” attempts to capture the no-frills sound of a garage rock band, but feels like a drop-off after “Uno.” Some of the tracks work well, namely, “Stray Heart” and “Lady Cobra,” but others don’t fire on all cylinders.
Overall, this last installment of the trilogy shows another direction of the band’s evolution.
The Music Of Nashville: Original Soundtrack
Big Machine, $9.99
Among the characteristics the network TV drama “Nashville” gets right about its namesake city is the music. Guided by musical director T Bone Burnett, the new series presents a passable and often entertaining facsimile of country radio hits as well as samples of the less commercial side of the city’s music scene.
The hourlong evening soap features vocals by several of its main characters. The most convincing work comes from an upstart acoustic duo played by Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio, best represented on the album by “If I Didn’t Know Better,” and a rising starlet portrayed with convincing fierceness by Hayden Panettiere, who has received radio airplay for her pop-country dance tune, “Telescope.”
Actors Connie Britton and Charles Esten, as a veteran country star and her longtime guitarist, don’t have the vocal chops of the top singers in Music City. But they perform well enough onstage (especially on the ballad “No One Will Ever Love You”) while displaying their dramatic talents when the microphones are off.
The biggest musical disappointment is the shaggy rocker Jonathan Jackson, who lacks the charisma of the others. On the soundtrack, he fails to sharpen the edge of “Twist of Barbwire,” an Elvis Costello composition.
Still, most of the recordings on the “Nashville” soundtrack rate with what Music City regularly produces — thereby achieving the show’s goal.