The Offspring, Days Go By. Nine albums in, you can’t blame The Offspring for making deviations from their trademark punk pop. On the other hand, you don’t come to The Offspring for rap (“Cruising California (Bumpin’ in My Trunk”) or Mariachi-meets-reggae (“OC Guns”).
That puts “Days Go By” betwixt and between. There is plenty of their trademark angst plus humor, hooks plus propulsion songs -- “Slim Pickens Does the Right Thing and Rides the Bomb to Hell” is a gem. But, beyond the big Bob Rock production, there’s not a lot of coherence to the record or much anything new that really connects. Grade: B-
Joey Ramone, “...,Ya Know?” Eleven years after his death, Joey Ramone is back with a solo album compiled by his brother Mickey Leigh and producer Ed Stasium from vocal tracks from demos and home recordings made from the 1980s through 2001.
To finish the record, Ramone friends, collaborators and admirers, including Joan Jett, Little Steven van Zandt, a couple of Dictators and Ritchie Ramone, were brought in to created music in a style that fits Joey.
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The result is a surprisingly strong disc that includes anthems, such as “Rock ‘n’ Roll is the Answer” and softer numbers like the acoustic version of “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight).” Grade: B+
Alejandro Escovedo, Big Station. Alejandro Escovedo is an Austin institution, a singer-songwriter whose compositions range from punk rock to classically influenced pieces that all, somehow, fit together.
With “Big Station,” his 11th album and third consecutive disc with producer Tony Visconti, Escovedo is at the peak of his form, writing smart personal songs and dark observational numbers, and putting them in classic, hip-shaking rock ‘n’ roll settings full of hooks, memorable choruses and just enough bite to keep things from getting mushy. Grade: B+