The Killers, ‘Wonderful, Wonderful’


Aidin Vaziri | With “Wonderful, Wonderful,” the Killers aim for reinvention and renewed relevance. The Las Vegas group’s fifth studio album — its first in five years — finds the band scaling back the Bruce Springsteen-scale pomposity that hampered 2012’s “Battle Born” and aiming for a dark pop vibe more in line with its breakthrough debut, 2004’s “Hot Fuss.” Sometimes it works. Songs like “The Man” and “Out of My Mind” are driven by sleek synthesizer melodies, while “Tyson vs. Douglas” swaggers forward on one of the band’s signature shout-along hooks. Sometimes, not so much. The actor Woody Harrelson reads Bible verses for the intro to “The Calling,” a Depeche Mode-lite stomper; while the closing ballad, “Have All the Songs Been Written,” finds singer Brandon Flowers contemplating life, “Send In the Clowns” style: “Has every ship gone sailing?/ Has every heart gone blue?”


Foo Fighters, ‘Concrete and Gold’


Aidin Vaziri | You can depend on the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl’s band has pretty much been there since the dawn of the dinosaurs (or the dissolution of Nirvana), cranking out meat-and-potatoes rock anthems to be played in arenas and stadiums at maximum volume. The group has a way of making peers like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Green Day sound risque, yet there’s nothing inherently wrong with its output — some of its songs you wouldn’t even mind hearing twice. For “Concrete and Gold,” the band recruited producer Greg Kurstin, who produced and co-wrote Adele’s “Hello,” as well as guests as diverse as Justin Timberlake and Paul McCartney. But the net result is the same as always: hammering riffs, crashing rhythms and Grohl howling through tracks like “Run” and “La Dee Da” not so much with angst but an interminable sense of duty.

The National, ‘Sleep Well Beast’


Aidin Vaziri | The National shakes off its perpetual 3 a.m. slumber on “Sleep Well Beast,” the group’s seventh studio recording and its most animated yet. Fueled by singer Matt Berninger’s recent enthusiasm for California’s lax marijuana laws, his involvement in the slightly funky side project El Vy and the impending doom brought on by the current political climate, the dapper quintet cuts loose and embraces its inner Radiohead. Touches of disco, brass and glitch-laden synths seep into songs like “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” and “I’ll Still Destroy You,” while the title track seems to simultaneously disintegrate as it grows louder. Not everybody will be on board with the band tearing off the cobwebs, but there’s no denying the National sounds reinvigorated.

Burger Boogaloo Serves Up Iggy Pop


Aidin Vaziri | “We’re not ugly,” John Waters, the cult film director and author, told a crowd of 7,500 or so people from a small stage in the middle of Oakland’s Mosswood Park on Saturday afternoon. “We got character — bad character!”

That was one way to sum up the audience at Burger Boogaloo, the annual Fourth of July weekend music festival that vigorously celebrates do-it-yourself music and values. Now on its eighth edition — and third with Waters serving as the oh-so-quotable master of ceremonies — the two-day event has quickly carved out its own quirky place on the congested Bay Area concert calendar.

The faithful came wearing Bettie Page bangs and beehive hairdos, retro sleeve tattoos, Doc Martin boots, and plenty of leather despite the intense midday heat.

This year saw Burger Boogaloo boasting its most popular headliners to date. The writhing, shirtless punk hero Iggy Pop topped the bill on Saturday, capping off a day that featured 10 other impressively high-volume sets: from the brutal noise of Japanese garage-rock power trio Guitar Wolf down to the surreal rockabilly of Canada’s Bloodshot Bill. (Indie icons the Buzzcocks and X were scheduled to close out the festival on Sunday.)

Introducing Pop, Waters urged the audience, “Get on your knees to worship our leader!”

The Godfather of Punk did not disappoint. Taking the stage at sunset, the 70-year-old singer threw himself wholeheartedly into the classics, thumping on his bare chest for the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and running his fingers through his blond locks during an unexpectedly sensual reading of “The Passenger.”

There was an endearing, loosely organized spirit to the whole thing that made Burger Boogaloo — the showcase event for Burger Records, a record store and indie rock label in Orange County that stubbornly specializes in cassette releases — feel like a throwback to the days before corporate sponsors and smartphones infiltrated sacred spaces.

The concert’s two stages, dubbed Butt City and Gone Shrimpn (their misspelling, not ours), were decorated with gold balloons and an assortment of inflatable space aliens and high-heeled limbs poking out into the sky. Every available surface of the park was covered with empty Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans. The merchant booths, meanwhile, sold vintage clothes and vinyl records.

For most of the day, as people lounged around the vast lawn on blankets, munching on burgers and sipping on beer, it felt like a picnic that happened to be populated by some very well-dressed people. The audience spanned generations, from toddlers wearing earmuffs to dudes with gray ponytails. At one point, everyone started throwing slices of pizza at each other.

It was truly a unique scene.

Where else could you catch a second stage headlining set by Nobunny, a man who performed something resembling rock ’n’ roll while wearing tight black briefs, a tattered bunny mask and, at least briefly, a biker jacket — backed by three other goons with furry faces?

Anyone peering down at the proceedings from the hospital across the street — those poor patients! — surely must have thought the drugs were having unintended side effects.

As night fell and the area around the stage surged with bodies, Pop delivered an anthem for the insurrectionists, “No Fun.”

With its rumbling drums and primitive guitar riffs, the mosh pit jostled harder as people started toppling over the barricades, to the sounds of Iggy thrusting his hips and singing, “Feelin’ that same old way/ No fun to hang around/ Freaked out/ For another day.”


Sleater-Kinney, ‘Live in Paris’


Aidin Vaziri | Following a decade-long hiatus, Sleater-Kinney came roaring back in 2015 with a string of live shows that left ears ringing across North America and Europe. Angry, loud and savage, it was almost as if the members of the Olympia, Wash., trio weren’t pushing 40, having only fine-tuned their righteous attack with the passing of time. “Live in Paris” documents one of those concerts, recorded at La Cigale in Paris during the group’s tour in support of its comeback album, “No Cities to Love.” While it’s impossible to capture the full-tilt S-K live experience with singer and guitarist Carrie Brownstein and rhythm guitarist Corin Tucker bouncing against each other, the music here is unrelentingly fierce. The tangled yelps remain an acquired taste, but for believers having these unhinged versions of “Dig Me Out” and “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” as souvenirs from the reunion is a rare treat.

The xx, ‘I See You’


Aidin Vaziri | The xx’s minimalist pop songs changed everything. When the members of the British trio first emerged from their bedrooms as teenagers before the turn of the decade, mixing spare electronic beats with whispery voices and drifting bass, they delivered a fresh sonic palette to follow for everyone from Drake and Beyoncé to Lorde and the Chainsmokers. As its sound has infiltrated the charts, the xx by necessity scrambles the formula with its third album, “I See You,” trading musical desolation for a fuller, more celebratory sound. “Say Something Love” floats on a ray of Beach Boys-infused sunshine, the ballad “Performance” has a sly R&B vibe, and “I Dare You” is a straight-up love song that finds newly engaged singer Romy Madley Croft breathlessly proclaiming, “I’m on a different kind of high/ A rush of blood is not enough/ I need my feelings set on fire.” At its core, as always, the album is driven by her vocal interplay with Oliver Sim and the left-of-center rhythms delivered by producer Jamie Smith — the little signatures that continue to put the band into a different realm.

Bruno Mars, ‘24K Magic’


Aidin Vaziri | Coming off the success of “Uptown Funk,” one of the biggest hits of his career — and what a career — Bruno Mars, 31, is free to stretch out creatively. With “24K Magic,” that means throwing it back to the slick, tightly wound soul and funk of his toddler years — the 1980s and ’90s. The tongue-in-cheek “Perm” sounds like an alternate version of James Brown’s rousing “Living in America,” “Versace on the Floor” revives the kind of synth sounds not heard since Jermaine Jackson last got airtime on “Night Flight,” and you’ll have to check the credits twice to make sure Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis didn’t have a hand in “Finesse.” It’s a novel exercise, if a little curious for a defining voice of his own era. At just over 33 minutes, it’s also brief — signaling that perhaps Mars knows the real gold is in the here and now.