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CD Reviews:
Listening Room: Foxboro Hot Tubs (aka Green Day), Scarlett Johansson and more...

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, May 18, 2008

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Foxboro Hot Tubs, “Stop Drop and Roll!!!” (Jingle Town/ Reprise) ***

With hit ballads like “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” and Grammywinning concept albums like “American Idiot,” Green Day has stepped beyond its punk roots to establish that the San Francisco Bay Area group can be anything it wants — including another band. Foxboro Hot Tubs, which features the three Green Day members and two of its touring adjuncts, is not the first time the trio has gone alter-ego on us; in 2003 it played New Wave music as The Network. Foxboro Hot Tubs seems more ambitious and fully realized, however, a sinewy mid-’60s homage that, from the cover art to the vintage film audio clips preceding some of its 12 tracks, sounds like a random weekly episode of “Little Steven’s Underground Garage.” There are plenty of direct references throughout “Stop Drop ...” the Kinks’ “Tired of Waiting For You” on “Red Tide” and “You Really Got Me” on “Alligator;” the Yardbirds’ “Heart Full of Soul” on “Dark Side of the Night;” the Who’s rendition of “Summertime Blues” on “She’s a Saint Not a Celebrity;” and a colossal collision of the Monkees’ “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” and Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints” on “Sally.” Copious doses of Farfisa organ add to the flavor of these cheerfully retro proceedings, though frontman Billie Joe Armstrong still has his punky sneer intact and, on the sharply grooving “27th Ave. Shuffle,” makes some light social commentary about the general state of the world. Mostly, though, “Stop Drop ...” is 32 minutes and change of good time rock — three-chords and the truth, as it were, except perhaps the identity of the players.


Scarlett Johansson, “Anywhere I Lay My Head” (Atco) **1/2

Considering that she’s a much more ambitious actress, it comes as no surprise that Scarlett Johansson would make a much more interesting album than the Lindsay Lohans and Jennifer Love Hewitts of the world. On “Anywhere ...” Johansson takes on 10 songs from the Tom Waits songbook, along with one original, singing with a kind of impassioned detachment well suited to Waits’ wryly nuanced lyricism. But producer David Andrew Sitek is as much the star here as Johansson, bathing Waits’ sturdy melodies in ethereal washes of keyboard and synthesizer drone, an effect that makes these 11 tracks sound like something out of the soundtrack of Johansson’s breakthrough film, “Lost in Translation.” “Anywhere...” may not make Johansson a rock star, but it certainly holds your attention.


James Carter, “Present Tense” (Emarcy): The Detroitborn saxophonist pays tribute to the late Eric Dolphy and records tunes by Dave Burns and Stanley Turrentine on his latest album.

Bun B, “II Trill” (Rap-ALot/Asylum): The second solo album from the former UGK member has a full guest list that includes Lupe Fiasco, Lil Wayne, David Banner, Rick

Ross, Mya, Lyfe Jennings, Chamillionaire and his late bandmate Pimp C.

The Dresden Dolls, “No, Virginia” (Roadrunner): The intense Boston duo continues to make a two-person noise on its sequel to 2006’s “Yes, Virginia.”

D12, “Mixtape: The Return of the Dozen” (Shady): This stop-gap while the Detroit rap troupe readies its third album features performances by Eminem and the late Proof, as well as guest appearances by Royce Da 5’9”,

King Gordy, Monica Blaire and more.

Flobots, “Fight With Tools” (Universal Republic): The six-member hip-hop troupe from Denver brings a fulllength after stoking the world with its hit, “Handlebars.”

French Kicks, “Swimming” (Vagrant): The New York indie rock outfit’s fourth album hits stores after a seven-week digital download run.

Greta Gaines, “Whiskey Thoughts” (Justice): She’s been a pro snowboarder and an Oxygen network TV host — and, oh yeah, she makes music, too, with friends such as Willie Nelson and Raul Malo.

Eric Hutchinson, “Sounds Like This” (Warner Bros): The New York singersongwriter gives his debut a major label ride after a successful independent run on iTunes.

Islands, “Arm’s Way” (Anti-): After a guest-laden debut, the Canadian rockers keep things self-contained on their sophomore set.

Mason Jennings, “In the Ever” (Brushfire): The Minneapolis-based singersongwriter moves to Jack Johnson’s label for his sixth album.

Mates of State, “Re-Arrange Us” (Barsuk): The indie rock duo from Lawrence, Kan., designed a package for its latest album that can morph into eight different configurations.

Mudhoney, “The Lucky Ones” (Sub Pop): The ninth studio album from the Seattle veterans.

Curt Smith, “Halfway, pleased” (KOOK Media): The former half of Tears For Fears releases his first solo outing in 10 years.

Esperanza Spalding, “Esperanza” (Heads Up): The debut from the acoustic bass prodigy who sings in three languages and is the youngest professor in the history of the Berklee College of Music.

Donna Summer, “Crayons” (Burgundy/ SonyBMG): The disco queen’s first collection of new material in 17 years includes collaborations with writers and producers who have delivered hits for Rihanna, Pink, Lilly Allen, Natasha Bedingfield and others.

The Ting Tings, “We Started Nothing” (Columbia): The buzzed-about British duo brings its debut album as a digital-only release.

3 Doors Down, “3 Doors Down” (Universal): The Mississippi rock quintet’s fifth studio album follows a highprofile “Citizen/Soldier” campaign for the National Guard.

Yellowjackets and Mike Stern, “Lifecycle” (Heads Up): This collaboration marks the Yellowjackets first album in 15 years to feature a guitarist.

Your Vegas, “A Town and Two Cities” (Universal Republic): Debut set from the British quintet that’s current on the road opening for Duran Duran.

Mike Zito, “Today” (Electro Groove): An ace band and producer David Z. help the southeast Texas singer-songwriter on his latest release.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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