The Killers are back in full force with a bigger, stronger and more diverse second album called Sam’s Town that avoids the dreaded sophomore curse. The always stylish Las Vegas quartet exhibits a fully loaded album that has raw emotion, high energy and a new rock-n-roll sound fused with their famed use of glam 1980’s music. The title track opens and immediately draws the listener in with an explosion of drum rolls and a rush of guitars and synthesizers. The album maintains this high energy and unfolds catchy sounds and alluring lyrics. The tracks “When You Were Young” and “This River Is Wild” illustrate singer Brandon Flower’s talent for lyrics. Sam’s Town is a well produced and fun album that showcases strong vocals, untraditional sounds and an infectious energetic tempo that reflect a confident band that has matured but kept their original indie pop-rock glamour sensibilities.—Paul Chi
Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live in London!!!
No Idea Records
Despite the folk-punk band’s first MTV cameo last November, Against Me!’s spunky tunes still appease longtime fans—and they can still impress onstage. Their latest album, Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live in London!!!, is drawn from a live performance at the Mean Fiddler in London. The set compiles hits from their debut album, Reinventing Axl Rose, to the recent album Searching for a Former Clarity. Frontman Tom Gabel’s lyricism and passion for an old-school punk attitude fuses fluidly into a riveting show. —Victor Oren
X-Men: The Last Stand
20th Century Fox
In what was supposed to be the grand finale to a successful trilogy and one of the best comic book adaptations to the big screen, X-Men: The Last Stand falls flat. With Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) taking over Bryan Singer’s duties as director, who left to direct Superman Returns, the film suffers from uneven storytelling and underdeveloped characters. But most of all, the film lacks the intimacy that distinguished the first two films. Picking up where the second film left off, X3 explores the effects of Jean Grey’s (Famke Janssen) uncontrollable personality as the powerful Dark Phoenix. Meanwhile, a pharmaceutical company has developed a serum that “cures” mutants of their powers, opening the door to a life as normal humans. The returning cast (Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin) simply goes through the motions. The only good extra on the DVD is the audio commentary. In the end, X-Men: The Last Stand is nowhere near entertaining as its predecessors.—Paul Chi