Every Tuesday morning in New Releases Roundup, we’ll publish our reviews of the week’s releases as found in the pages of Entertainment Weekly. This week: Paul McCartney, Pearl Jam, Gavin DeGraw, the Avett Brothers, and Scotty McCreery.
Paul McCartney, New “McCartney earns points just for seeking out new ideas, but New hangs on the strength of the songs. He’s got formidable storytelling chops (which especially inform the dreamy ‘On My Way to Work’), but he is also smart enough to get out of the way of a bombastic hook, as on the punchy ‘I Can Bet.”’ (Click here for Kyle Anderson’s full review.)
Pearl Jam, Lightning Bolt “Eddie Vedder, now 48, hurls down a new, if unsurprising, preoccupation: mortality. Vedder wonders whether the bell tolls for him on the otherwise easygoing ‘Sirens,’ a piano-plunking ballad to rank with their classics, and human life itself seems to be ”tempting fate” on the album’s knotty, lovely centerpiece, ‘Infallible.”’ (Click here for Nick Catucci’s full review.)
Gavin DeGraw, Make a Move Admitting you’re a Gavin DeGraw fan is about as cool as professing your love for mom jeans. Too bad, because there’s true talent here. Move doesn’t stray far from his “I Don’t Want to Be” formula — it’s steeped in intricate piano hooks and his seductive, gravelly voice. But the title track is terrific, as is “Who’s Gonna Save Us.” Plus, let’s be honest: Mom jeans are really comfortable. B+ —Henry Goldblatt
The Avett Brothers, Magpie and the Dandelion On their eighth full-length, the banjo-plucking North Carolina folk-rockers manage to sing about ambivalence with engaging romanticism. The standout “Morning Song” poetically imagines a woman as a bird perched on a telephone wire, “shamelessly alive unto the low.” But when the band turns from evocative imagery to lyrics that just feel confusingly circuitous, Magpie loses its footing — especially when compared with last year’s excellent The Carpenter. B —Grady Smith
Scotty McCreery, See You Tonight If you bought the deep-voiced American Idol winner’s strong-selling but oddly stodgy debut, Clear as Day, you may be shocked (or glad) to hear that he’s crafted a truly contemporary follow-up. The first half bogs down under too much by-the-numbers rock-country, but Tonight hits its stride in the smoother second half — ending with the 1-2-3 punch of the cheeky “I Don’t Wanna Be Your Friend,” the Garth Brooks-esque lullaby “Carolina Moon,” and “Something More,” which makes a plea for Nashville to quit it with all the truck songs. Hey, we kind of like this new Scotty! B —Grady Smith