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New From: Jason Aldean, Weezer

Allen J. Schaben

Allen J. Schaben

Glenn Gamboa

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Luis Sinco
Newsday

(MCT)

JASON ALDEAN, “Old Boots, New Dirt” THE GRADE B

BOTTOM LINE Well-crafted modern-country comfort food

It’s a thin line between simple and plain and Jason Aldean walks it with his new album, “Old Boots, New Dirt” (Broken Bow).

Unlike his previous albums, there’s no flirting with hip-hop here. There’s no flashy duet with Kelly Clarkson. This is straight-up country, with only tinges of the “bro-country” that Aldean is credited with helping create. There’s none of the pop or rock flourishes that his Nashville contemporaries have been using.

Instead, the “New Dirt” he offers is built on the familiar — love songs and tales about boots and trucks. As much as Aldean likes a party, he’s at his best with the country ballads. “Tryin’ to Love Me” is a smash-in-waiting, mining the same area as “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” both in tone and in substance. The same goes for “Miss That Girl,” an immediately recognizable dramatic ballad that hooks you from the first listen.

That may help Aldean with country radio. However, there are times — especially in “Don’t Change Gone” and “Too Fast” — when the simplicity of the lyrics and his delivery make the rest of the song seem too ordinary.

Luckily, he does keep the crazy “If My Truck Could Talk,” an ode to his pickup that quickly turns murderous, with a refrain of, “It’s been good to me. But it knows too much. It’s seen it all. I’d have to find a riverbank and roll it off, if my truck could talk.” It’s a sign he’s not taking everything quite as seriously as “Old Boots, New Dirt” seems.

WEEZER, “Everything Will Be Alright in the End” THE GRADE B+

BOTTOM LINE Greatness from across rock’s spectrum

Weezer fans, this one is for you. After experimenting with pop — working with Britney Spears collaborators on “Raditude” — and the weird indie-rock reaction “Hurley,” Weezer internalizes its recent experiments on “Everything Will Be Alright in the End” (Republic). There’s a little bit of everything here, all well done. In “I’ve Had It Up to Here,” they move from a funk-and-falsetto opening to Queen prog rock to the classic Weezer sound of “Buddy Holly.” In the single “Back to the Shack,” Rivers Cuomo apologizes for the confusion, deadpanning, “I forgot that disco sucks. … I know where we need to go.” And he does.

HOT SONG

It takes a lot of confidence to think you can improve Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” Luckily, Aretha Franklin has all the confidence that comes with being the Queen of Soul. And her version of “Rolling in the Deep” (RCA) is filled with all the power and majesty you would expect from her, and she gives it a clever twist by throwing in a bit of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” It’s always great to hear a master at work.

NEW IN STORES

Doug Seegers’ “Going Down to the River” (Rounder) Stevie Nicks’ “24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault” (Reprise)

Hozier’s “Hozier” (Columbia)

Alex & Sierra’s “It’s About Us” (Columbia)

Jackson Browne’s “Standing in the Breach” (Inside)

Made in America festival

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©2014 Newsday

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New From: Jason Aldean, Weezer