• Green Day / Photo via Getty

    Green Day, '¡Uno!' (Reprise)

    "Lights and action, I just can't be satisfied," Billie Joe Armstrong sings near the end of the new Green Day album, and the dude knows from whence he bitches. After blazing through the '90s as pop's No. 1 punks, Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tré Cool spent the 2000s knee-deep in the business of show, first recording a pair of Grammy-winning rock operas, then mounting an honest-to-goodness Broadway musical version of American Idiot, one in which Armstrong himself was known occasionally to take over the role of St. Jimmy. Lights, action, pancake makeup — they've been there, done that.To ring in their third decade together, then, Green Day go back to garage-band basics on ¡Uno!, kicking out a dozen (relatively) no-frills power-pop jams in less time than it takes a union pit orchestra to tune up.

  • Linkin Park

    Linkin Park, 'Living Things' (Warner Bros./WEA)

    "We're building it up to break it back down," Chester Bennington sings on the lead single from Linkin Park's fifth studio album, and God only knows what he's yowling about: I just sat here and watched the lyric video for "Burn It Down" six times in a row, which got me nowhere in trying to understand the nature of the flames rapper Mike Shinoda promises to fan "as your blazes burn." In the official "Burn It Down" video, both men spontaneously combust, so maybe they had a fight or something?

  • Garbage

    Garbage, 'Not Your Kind of People' (StunVolume)

    "We are extraordinary people," Shirley Manson sings on the first Garbage album since 2005, and in an era of ever-more-youth-obsessed pop, there's no doubt about that. Onstage earlier this month at the annual "Weenie Roast" concert hosted by Los Angeles alt-rock radio behemoth KROQ, Manson's black-clad bandmates came off like visiting professors long before she mentioned that the band had initially played the event in 1996. Unmentioned were the other acts on the bill back then — Lush, Goldfinger, and the motherfucking Verve Pipe, whose "The Freshman" basically described the bright-eyed kids patiently waiting for the Dirty Heads and Coldplay. But you know what doesn't diminish a group that started out singing about being propped up by yet another pill? Seven more years of frustration and disappointment.

  • Marilyn Manson

    Marilyn Manson, 'Born Villain' (Hell, Etc./Cooking Vinyl)

    Has the time come for a critical reassessment of Marilyn Manson? Marilyn Manson sure seems to think so. The veteran shock-rocker's new studio album — his first since the end of a decade-and-a-half Interscope deal that he told Billboard involved "trying to fit me into a hole I didn't belong in" — arrives pre-equipped with all kinds of comeback paraphernalia, including confessional interviews and a genuinely disturbing short film directed by Shia LaBeouf (who, incidentally, has also helmed music videos for Kid Cudi and Cage). As for the songs themselves, on Born Villain's crunching lead single, "No Reflection," Manson snarls, "I'm not a death-trip vacation," then adds, "You don't even want to know what I'm gonna do to you." Bogeyman boilerplate?

  • The Mars Volta

    The Mars Volta, 'Noctourniquet' (Warner Bros.)

    Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of the Mars Volta has spoken recently with atypical clarity about the reunion of his old band, At the Drive-In, which is set to play Coachella alongside the Black Keys and Swedish House Mafia. "We're not getting any younger, and there's been an offer of money every year," the guitarist told England's NME. "You can't avoid that." To the metalheads at Kerrang!, Rodriguez-Lopez went one better, batting away the notion of a new studio album thusly: "At the Drive-In is more of a nostalgia thing." Contrast those straightforward sound bites with a random lyrical sample from any of the Mars Volta's records — "Flinched the cocooned meat / Infra-recon forgets," let's say — and you might wonder if this Left Coast prog-punk ensemble might be ready to straighten out some of their kinks for this sixth album.

  • First Aid Kit, 'The Lion's Roar' (Wichita)

    First Aid Kit, 'The Lion's Roar' (Wichita)

    The Pierces. The Watson Twins. Tegan and Sara. In an international indie scene curiously awash in close-harmonizing sister-folk acts, you can understand why Sweden's First Aid Kit chose a name -- even a name as blandly utilitarian as this one -- that sets them apart from the ever-widening post-Carter family. Really, though, Klara and Johanna Söderberg could've called themselves the Only Children and there'd still be no denying the centrality of those blood-relation harmonies: Singer-guitarist Klara gets off exactly two verses on The Lion's Roar before she's joined by singer-keyboardist Johanna, whose voice sticks steadfastly to her sibling's for the remainder of this often-gorgeous sophomore album. And why shouldn't it?

  • Korn, 'The Path of Totality' (Roadrunner)

    Korn, 'The Path of Totality' (Roadrunner)

    Describing the impetus for last year's willfully stripped-down Remember Who You Are, Korn frontman Jonathan Davis told me that he'd asked himself a question after his band's surprisingly adventurous mid-2000s stretch: "What more can we add to this fucking motherfucker?" The answer, a mere 18 months later, turns out to be the wobble and squelch of arena-leaning dubstep. On The Path of Totality, their tenth studio album, these West Coast rap-rock OGs hook up with various on-the-rise producers, including Skrillex, Datsik, Kill the Noise, and 12th Planet, for the most blatant nü-metal cred grab since Limp Bizkit covered "Bittersweet Symphony." Thing is, dubstep's slithering textures actually suit Davis' demented croon, particularly in the cuts produced by Skrillex, who's known Korn since his teenaged days as Sonny Moore (in the metalcore act From First to Last).

  • James Durbin, 'Memories of a Beautiful Disaster' (Wind-Up)

    Rockers freshly graduated from American Idol could do worse than hooking up with producer Howard Benson, as Chris Daughtry proved five years ago. Now comes the debut from Season 10's fourth-place finisher James Durbin, and like the quadruple-platinum Daughtry, Memories of a Beautiful Disaster positions its headliner's voice amid a perfect swarm of polished mall-metal guitars built to flatter the finest hooks post-Idol money can buy. And though Durbin's singing lacks the strange sensuality of his predecessor, he might have slightly more interesting tastes: The glam-trashy "Love in Ruins" (co-written by Anna Waronker of That Dog) would've fit comfortably on the latest from My Chemical Romance.

  • The Decemberists, 'Long Live the King' (Capitol)

    The Decemberists, 'Long Live the King' (Capitol)

    Given how clearly they modeled this year's chart-topping The King Is Dead on the early work of R.E.M., the Decemberists could've been expected to use this six-track EP to commemorate the ones they loved. Instead, the Portland veterans doff their tweed caps to the Grateful Dead; more surprising still, singer Colin Meloy resists stripping "Row Jimmy" of its funky longshoreman's shuffle. The remaining originals on Long Live the King demonstrate why they began life as outtakes, with the exception of the harmony-dipped "E. Watson," an all-American beauty worthy of rescue.

  • Coldplay, 'Mylo Xyloto' (Capitol)

    Coldplay, 'Mylo Xyloto' (Capitol)

    It says something about Coldplay's Top 40 assimilation that the most Rihanna-ish song on Mylo Xyloto isn't the one that actually features Rihanna.

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