What’s their age again? Probably 40‑something, seeing as it’s been almost 20 years since they sang about the angst of being 23 in the now classic “What’s My Age Again?” But this hasn’t stopped Blink 182 from staying true to their mainstream punk sound. Standouts—besides the chart topping “Bored to Death”—include “Rabbit Hole,” “No Future,” “Sober” and “Built This Pool,” a fun 16‑second ditty. Though guitarist Tom DeLonge has departed, Travis Barker remains and does an amazing job of pounding the drums throughout. The exception is the surprisingly tender “Home Is Such a Lonely Place,” a gorgeous ballad complete with acoustic chord‑changing fingertip squeaks. Despite the mildly disappointing title track, California is Blink‑182’s best album this side of the millennium.
‑ Joni Williams
Celebrating Elvin Jones
Rock drummers apparently get the best training for jazz, and graduating from Berklee College of Music can’t hurt either. Calhoun is a stranger to no genre, and has sat in with a diamond‑studded list of performers ranging from Herb Alpert to Public Enemy, as well as anchoring his own band Living Colour. Here Calhoun lays a wreath at the shrine of avant garde/free jazz drummer Jones. Among the artists joining Calhoun are Christian McBride, Antoine Roney (Wallace’s sax‑playing brother) and Mahavishnu Orchestra’s own Jan Hammer. The eight tracks range from the introverted to Avant Garde Big Band.
‑ Bruce Collier
The Fabulous Thunderbirds
Strong Like That
The Thunderbirds’ latest delivers on the title’s promise. The opening track is a bluesy lamentation cover of “I Know I’m Losing You,” Rare Earth’s lengthy funk‑theatrical masterpiece, with harmonica substituting for Lon Chaney’s organ. If harmonica solos and plenty of walking bass is your thing, then shop no further. On top of that there are whispers of B.B. King, Motown, and gospel choirs gone funky. The 30‑year‑old band boasts a lot of exes, but on this album it’s a quintet led by Kim Wilson. Anson Funderburgh, Roosevelt Collier and Wes Watkins guest on several tracks.
‑ Bruce Collier
My Brother: The Ocean
I Used to Be So Sure
Creek Mud Records
Panama City has seen many hardcore bands come and go, but My Brother: The Ocean has kept a steady tide. With vocals that capture the aggression of metal and the vibrance of punk, they don’t shy from sophisticated musical choices that run counter to what hardcore is know for. The album leaves the listener convinced that this ever‑evolving band is something mighty special.
‑ Nikki Hedrick
It’s no secret Maynard James Keenan fans have an almost disciple‑like loyalty—they may buy his latest work solely out of allegiance to his other bands, Tool and A Perfect Circle. But they shouldn’t. They should buy it because it’s good—really, really good. Though it may not be the ear crack that is 2011’s Conditions of My Parole, Money Shot delivers plenty of hooks with “The Remedy,” “The Arsonist” and “Agostina,” a love song to his baby girl that effectively captures a dad’s awestruck amore without sounding sappy. Likewise, the ethereal sound of “Grand Canyon” gives an instant sense of wide‑open space while staying true to the signature sound MJK is renowned for.
‑ Joni Williams
Pensacola band aims for a classic rock vibe and achieves it admirably. Real Eyes dishes out polished tunes from talented players—they’re a joy to spin. Hopefully the band won’t stay undiscovered for long and book some gigs in Beachcomberland.