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Green Day and "Dos!"

Green Day



File next to: Blink-182, Bad Religion

The second album in Green Day's 2012 trilogy, ¡Dos! not only equals ¡Uno!, it's actually better. The album opens the one-minute-long Everly Brothers-inspired "See You Tonight," on which Billie Joe Armstrong sings harmonies with himself accompanied by a hard-strummed acoustic guitar. It ends with "Amy," another acoustic, '50s-tinged number, this one aiming toward Dion-style street balladry. In between are 11 pure rock 'n rollers. There's the raunchy garage rocker "Fuck Time," while the fine hook-filled pop of "Ashley" nods to early Who and late Beatles. Also great are the swinging bouncy "Stray Heart," the '50s-meets-glam revved-up shuffle of "Lady Cobra," and "Nightlife," which manages to incorporate a sexy rap from Lady Cobra without a sound out of place. ¡Dos! doesn't have any overarching themes. It's just Green Day being what it is: a fine rock 'n roll band. — L. Kent Wolgamott

Lana Del Rey and "Paradise"

Lana Del Rey



File next to: Adele, Emili Sandé

The eight new songs on Paradise cover the same emotional territory as those on Lana Del Rey's debut album Born to Die, as she surveys the travails of love in a glamorous '60s-pop style. This new work is filled with pop-culture references, as Del Rey essays how "Springsteen is the king/ Don't you think? / I was like hell yeah/ That guy can sing." She claims that "Elvis is my daddy, Marilyn's my mother" on "American," and gets raunchy with her Pepsi on the shimmering, string-drenched "Cola." Del Rey's lower-register vocals are dusky and seductive (especially on a perfectly arranged cover of "Blue Velvet"), while they become more vulnerable as her voice moves higher. A couple songs don't fully engage, but Paradise is still a satisfying sophomore album from an artist who may outlive her overnight sensation status. — L. Kent Wolgamott

Elvis Presley and "Prince From Another Planet"

Elvis Presley

Prince From Another Planet


File next to: Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry

This 40th anniversary reissue chronicles Elvis Presley's first concerts in New York City, which took place in 1972 at Madison Square Garden. The two CDs and accompanying DVD showcase a mature Elvis at his very best. He makes songs like the Righteous Brother's "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and John Fogerty's "Proud Mary" sound entirely his own, while smartly reworking signature songs from the debut single "That's All Right" on through to the then-recent "Suspicious Minds." There's also a 20-minute mini-documentary, 20 minutes of fan-shot 8mm film (synched with newly mixed audio), and 12 minutes of a hilarious press conference in which the musician jokes with reporters and deflects personal questions until cowboy-hatted manager Col. Tom Parker pulls the plug. All in all, this is a true glimpse into another time, one which captures the magic of one of our greatest performers ever. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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