Noteworthy new music

We review releases by Paul McCartney, Maroon 5, and Bruce Springsteen.

The Beach Boys – The Warmth of the Sun (Capitol/EMI): Perhaps this troubled world could use a lot of things before another Beach Boys compilation, but who among us wouldn't appreciate "The Warmth of the Sun" and a taste of "Cool, Cool Water"? Presented as a companion set to 2004's "Sounds of Summer" (which contained familiar hits), its 28 tracks are a combination of shoulda-been hits and worthy tunes culled from latter-day BB albums, when the spotlight had long since moved on. True believers in Brian Wilson's genius probably own most of these tunes already. But pre-"Pet Sounds" gems such as "Please Let Me Wonder," "Kiss Me, Baby," and the irresistible "Breakaway" might just lure skeptics in from the cold. "Surf's Up," people – I say, go with the flow. Grade: A
– John Kehe

Maroon 5 – It Won't Be Before Long (A&M Records/Octone): Maroon 5's second album captures that acid moment of clarity just before a breakup – and all the bitterness that follows. Singer Adam Levine continues to corner the market on radio-friendly sexual details, but this time without the playful wink. There's cynicism in the music, too, which is so suffocatingly overproduced that neither the delicate moments nor the rock riffs stand out. While the band capably mimics its influences, ranging from The Police ("Won't Go Home Without You") to Justin Timberlake ("Makes Me Wonder"), it has yet to improve upon them. Bedroom eyes lead to blurry vision. Grade: C+
– Judy Coleman

Paul McCartney – Memory Almost Full (Hear Music): On his 21st solo record, available only at Starbucks, the songwriter grows Wings again by harking back to the lush, rockestra pop of his first post-Beatles endeavors. McCartney also looks to the past with wistful lyrics such as, "That was me playing conkers at the bus stop/On a blanket in the bluebells/That was me." There are somber notes – the chugga-chugga rock of "Only Mama Knows" – but they pass by like errant storm clouds on a July day. The bright melodies of "Memory Almost Full" are the very definition of jaunty. Grade: B
– Stephen Humphries

Bruce Springsteen with the sessions band – Live in Dublin (Columbia): There comes a time when you just do what feels right. Thirty years ago, nothing felt as right for Bruce Springsteen as playing marathon concerts. Last year, Springsteen took the 17-piece Sessions band – featuring horns and strings and a Celtic/folk-rock flavor – on the road, and found another, more muted, joy. This DVD/2-CD set is split between traditional songs and Springsteen's own. His compositions are (a) not the big hits, and (b) radically rearranged. No flag waving. A theme emerges of persevering through hard times. The pleasure here comes not with big guitar bursts, but in extended Dixieland horn lines, a nimble Celtic storm, and massed harmony vocals. In tapping so much from the past, Springsteen makes the connection between that era and today's, of the unchanging nature and struggle of the human condition. Grade: A
– Jim Sullivan

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