American Hi-Fi, Blood & Lemonade (Rude Records)
After four years, this Boston-via-L.A. quartet is back with an album that deviates from the sneering, pop-punk sound the band perfected on “Flavor of the Weak” and “The Art of Losing.” From the start (opener “Armageddon Days” offers cheery lyrics, Save yourself/if you can/exhausted in your faith/there is no us/there never was/just fear that medicates), Blood & Lemonade is a more serious affair, with the band affecting a dynamic, guitar-rock sound owing much to Foo Fighters—almost slavishly on the single “Allison.” But, hey, if you’re going to model your sound after another band, there are far worse choices than the Foos. ★★★✩✩
The Kooks, Listen (Astralwerks)
The Kooks appeared on the scene during the mid-2000s British indie-rock explosion with catchy but innocuous, Mod-influenced songs such as “Ooh La” and “Naive,” and right through 2011’s Junk of the Heart, they maintained that low-key, indie-pop sound. But on Listen, the Kooks have crafted a funky, soulful album full of dance floor-ready tracks. Lead singer and songwriter Luke Pritchard tapped unknown (though not for long) hip-hop producer Inflo to help charge up the Kooks’ innate pop savvy with disco beats, R&B grooves and radio-ready melodies. ★★★★✩
Immigrant Union, Anyway (MuseBox/Fontana North)
On its second album, Australian outfit Immigrant Union—led by the Dandy Warhols drummer (and American expat) Brent DeBoer—expands the scope of its sound beyond the twangy, retro-country style of its 2012 debut, producing a much richer collection that explores psychedelia, folk and mellow pop-rock. Single “Alison” sounds like Southern-fried R.E.M., while “I Can’t Return” takes a 1960s trip. And when the band does get down into its roots, it does so on cinematic tracks such as the haunting “In Time” and driving “Lake Mokoan.” ★★★✩✩
Upcoming albums on Pj’s radar …
OCT. 7: Speaking of pop-punk … New Found Glory is back with its first album in three years, Resurrection.
OCT. 14: Canadian indie-pop outfit Stars releases its latest disc, No One Is Lost.
OCT. 21: Primus reimagines the soundtrack to the 1971 film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory on the appropriately named Primus & The Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble.