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Sean Daly's CD picks: John Mellencamp, the Offspring, U2, Thomas Newman

John Mellencamp

Album: Life Death Love and Freedom (Hear)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Much like the mystic juju he conjured up for Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' Raising Sand, voodoo priest/super-producer T Bone Burnett slathers Mellencamp's new album in the same Southern Gothic swamp stank.

Why we like it: The 14-tracker grooves with resonator geetars, rattling bones and things that go bump in the subconscious. Mellencamp sings about kids getting stabbed at county fairs, politicians spiking the Kool-Aid, old men praying for death. But Burnett often saves John from himself, summoning a dead man's party to go with the so-serious words.

Reminds us of: Jack and Diane as groom and corpse bride.

Download this: My Sweet Love

Grade: A-

The Offspring

Album: Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace (Columbia)

In stores: Now

Why we care: I have a complex CD filing system at my desk — it just looks like I throw stuff everywhere. I found this new one from the L.A. punk trio at the bottom of a teetering pile. I've always liked these pranksters, especially singer Dexter Holland. So after locating my stereo under a bunch of gordita wrappers, I gave it a listen.

Why we like it: If you're expecting silly anthems a la Pretty Fly (For a White Guy), well, don't. Holland, bassist Greg K and guitarist Noodles cut the kidding and rage forth with antiwar anthems and political beatdowns. It's frequently stirring, eventually tiring. Is it too much to ask for a little bathroom humor?

Reminds us of: Jim Carrey's "serious" movies

Download this: You're Gonna Go Far, Kid

Grade: C+

U2

Album: Boy: Deluxe Edition (Island)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Island has remastered U2's first three albums — 1980's Boy, 1981's October, 1983's War — tacking on as many as 17 bonus tracks to each reissue. The liners feature commentary from the Edge ("I think we invited the entire audience back to the hotel for a drink afterwards . . ."), and the packaging will make diehards rejoice with a shout.

Why we like it: Each album is revelatory in its own right, but there's something special (and rather voyeuristic) about Boy. From the opening assault of I Will Follow to the raucous Out of Control, it's thrilling to hear the genesis of U2, to hear those prickly guitar parts, to hear humble Paul Hewson become . . . the one and only Bono.

Reminds us of: "I was on the outside . . ."

Download these: Twilight and An Cat Dubh

Grade: A

SONG OF THE WEEK

Thomas Newman

Song: Eve

Album: WALL-E: Original Score (Walt Disney)

In stores: Now

Why we care: So I have this playlist on my iPod called "The Chill-Out," compiled solely for those mellow, sleepy-time moments when I need to zone out. It's not that hip, but it's essential. Film composer Thomas Newman (Randy's cousin) is featured heavily on my mix, especially his scores for The Shawshank Redemption and Finding Nemo. Here, Newman again hooks up with his pals at Pixar, creating the perfect music for getting lost, and found, in space.

Why we like it: Borrowing the vaguely ominous string plucks from his American Beauty and Six Feet Under soundtracks, Newman layers the titular robot's traveling music with rolling waves of gravity-free aural gauzzzzz . . .

Reminds us of: Five more minutes, please?

Grade: B

Sean Daly's CD picks: John Mellencamp, the Offspring, U2, Thomas Newman 07/26/08 [Last modified: Saturday, July 26, 2008 4:30am]

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