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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: 5 Seconds of Summer, Carrie Underwood, Rod Stewart, Harry Connick Jr. and more...

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2015

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5 Seconds of Summer

"Sounds Good Feels Good"

(Capitol Records)

Grade: B

"I can't change the world/But maybe I can change your mind," 5 Seconds of Summer declares about a third of a way into its sophomore album. The Australian quartet could, in fact, be addressing the world at large, appealing for open ears and open minds -- especially from those who might normally write the Australian quartet off as just another one of pop's boy bands. 5SOS is, in fact, a bit more Green Day than One Direction and capable of kicking up as much punky fury ("San Francisco") as polished balladry. And the group even collaborates with members of forebears such as Good Charlotte, All Time Low, Goldfinger and more on this sprawling (to a fault) 17-songs set. The troupe's buoyant energy is what carries the day here as it lets the throttle ot on tracks such as "Money," "Permanent Vacation" and "Catch Fire" and lets itself get playful on the first single "She's Kinda Hot." Yes, 5SOS tugs at heartstrings, too ("Jet Black Heart," "Invisible"), but it also demonstrates some social consciousness that's more thoughtful than you might expect on the Duran Duran-sampling "Hey Everybody!" and "Waste The Night." And while the 5SOS still wears other influences such as U2, Weezer and blink-182 on its collective sleeve and misses the mark on the album-closing suite "Outer Space/Carry On," it still manages to stake a claim for an audience that goes beyond the teens and tweens who will be left disenfranchised by One Direction's upcoming hiatus.

New & Noteworthy:

Harry Connick Jr., "That Would Be Me" (Columbia): The veteran muso, actor and "American Idol" judge handed over production reins on his latest effort to contemporary hitmakers Butch Walker and Eg White.

Flint Eastwood, "Small Victories" (self-released): The Detroit rock troupe led by Jax Anderson recorded this six-song EP, the follow-up to 2013's "Late Night in Bolo Ties," at Assemble Sound in Corktown.

Dave Gahan, "Angels & Ghosts" (Columbia): The Depeche Mode frontman steps out of the band ranks for his second solo release.

Billy Gibbons & the BFGs, "Perfectamundo" (Concord): The ZZ Top guitarist goes solo and dives into the heretofore under-exposed Afro-Cuban roots of his musical makeup.

Joanna Newsom, "Divers" (Drag City): The buzz is deservedly strong for this harp-playing, trilly-voiced singer's fourth album and follow-up to the ambitious triple-album "Have One On Me."

Rod Stewart, "Another Country" (Capitol): Do ya still think he's sexy? Stewart is certainly prolific, staying on the songwriting path he rekindled for 2013's "Time" on this Celtic-flavored collection.

Walter Trout, "Battle Scars" (Provogue/Mascot): The blues-rock singer, songwriter and guitarist opens a vein for this moving and downright frightening chronicle about his battle with and ultimate triumph over liver failure.

Carrie Underwood, "Storyteller" (19/Arista Nashville): The "American Idol" champ and country star stepped up to co-write six of the 13 tracks on her fifth studio album.

Also Out: A Silent Film, "A Silent Film" (self-released); Laurie Anderson, "Heart of a Dog" (Nonesuch); Laurie Berkner Band, "Laurie Berkner's Favorite Classic Kids' Songs" (Two Tomatoes); Andrew Bocelli, "Cinema" (Verve); Tommy Castro & the Painkillers, "Method to My Madness" (Alligator); Vanessa Carlton, "Liberman" (Dine Alone); Cox Family, "Gone Like the Cotton" (Rounder); Zeke Duhon, " Zeke Duhon" (self-released); Michael Englis, "Worship" (New Day Entertainment); Fat Freddy`s Drop, "Rays" (The Drop); Fuzz, "Fuzz II" (In The Red); Jon Foreman, "The Wonderlands: Darkness & Dawn" (Word); Jean-Michel Jarre, "Electronic 1: Time Machine" (Ultra); Killing Joke, "Pylon" (Spinefarm); Mannheim Steamroller, "Live" (American Gramaphone); Billy Morrison, "God Shaped Hole" (King Mob Music); Shawn Mullins, "My Stupid Heart" (Sugar Hill);

From The Vaults: Jack Bruce, "Sunshine of Your Love: A Life in Music" (Polydor); Elvis Costello, "Unfaithful Music" (UMe); Grave Digger, "Exhumation -- The Early Years" (Napalm); Blake Shelton, "Reloaded: 20 #1's" (Warner Music Nashville)

Soundtracks: "A Chorus Line: 40th Anniversary Celebration" (Masterworks Broadway); Danny Elfman, "Goosebumps" (Sony Classical); Thomas Newman, "He Named Me Malala" (Sony Classics); Various Artists, "The Peanuts Movie" (Epic); Daniel Pemberton, "Steve Jobs" (Backlot); Alexandre Desplat, "Suffragette" (Backlot)

New Holiday Albums: Rend Collective Experiment, "Campfire Christmas (Vol. 1)" (Rend Collective); Sons of Serendip, "Christmas: Beyond the Lights" (NIA); Chris Tomlin, "Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship" (sixsteprecords); Various Artists, "Now That`s What I Call Country Christmas" (UMG Nashville)

New Music DVDs: Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Pronounced Le-nerd Skinnerd' & 'Second Helping' -- Live From Jacksonville at the Florida Theatre" (Eagle Rock)

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