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Music reviews: Neon Trees, Jason Mraz, Train (AUDIO)

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Here is a look at new music out this week.

Neon Trees “Picture Show”

The follow-up to Neon Trees’ breakthrough album, “Habits,” just isn’t as fun. It wants to be, but it’s not. “Picture Show” fails to deliver the fun factor, and instead feels like cheap pop rock from the late-’80s/early ’90s. The first single, “Everybody Talks,” is one of the only tracks here that fits the mold of what was established on the previous album. It’s a bouncy song that dials down the keyboards and turns up the guitars. The song, along with members of Neon Trees, has even been featured in a car commercial. Too bad the Provo, Utah, band didn’t stick to the formula for the rest of “Picture Show.”

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“Trust” is pure ’80s kitsch. There’s nothing wrong with being influenced by an era of music, but it works better when a band finds a different way to steer the sound. Instead of Neon Trees making the sound its own, they buy into tired methods established 25 years ago. The pseudo-ballad “Still Young” isn’t a bad song. It gives Tyler Glenn a chance to showcase his voice. Glenn, who is an ideal frontman for this group, has a unique delivery on his vocals. He really shines when given the right song. The album wraps up with “I Am The DJ.” The song has heart and has some of the album’s catchiest lyrics. If more songs on this release were like “I Am The DJ” and “Everybody Talks,” this would be a much better album.

Jason Mraz “Love Is A Four Letter Word”

Jason Mraz’s latest album, “Love Is A Four Letter Word,” is 12 tracks of wedding reception dinner music. But hey, at least it’s 12 tracks of nicely crafted wedding reception dinner music. As the title suggests, this is a compilation of love songs. Some are very similar to his hit, “I’m Yours.” And why not? The track was the all-time longest running song on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. “Living In the Moment” is one of a handful of songs on “Love ...” that will remind you of that successful single. “Everything Is Sound,” while still a heartfelt love song, is one of the disc’s more lively tracks. But the rest of the songs mostly have Mraz kicking up his feet as he relaxes with his guitar near the beach.

Train “California 37”

By now, you may think you know what to expect from a Train album. But the band manages to throw predictability out the car window on “California 37.” Pat Monahan manages to pull off a nifty little trick with his lyrics on the opening track, “This’ll Be My Year.” Monahan sounds as though he’s reading a timeline out of a fifth-grade U.S. history book. But between the notable dates in U.S. history, Monahan adds his own meaningful time periods including when the band left San Francisco for the first time in a $1,000 van; and when he met his wife. It’s a nice, unexpected lyrical twist that keeps the song sounding like a 2012 version of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire.” On “Bruises,” Train goes country with the help of Ashley Monroe of Pistol Annies. On “50 Ways To Say Goodbye,” the band hints at mariachi before shifting back to the rock. With “California 37,” Train tries to refresh their stale radio-friendly rock sound. The result is disjointed, but the album probably still will yield a couple successful singles for the band.

Also out this week: Lurrie Bell, “The Devil Ain’t Got No Music”; Jon Cleary, “Occapella”; DragonForce, “The Power Within”; Dry the River, “Shallow Bed”; Marvin Etzioni, “Marvin Country!”; The High Strung, “?Posible o’ Imposible?”; Eric Hutchinson, “Moving Up Living Down”; Peter Karp & Sue Foley, “Beyond the Crossroads”; Maps & Atlases, “Beware and Be Grateful”; Bob Marley & The Wailers, “Marley: The Original Soundtrack [Film soundtrack]”; Jason Mraz, “Love Is a Four Letter Word”; Neon Trees, “Picture Show”; Our Lady Peace, “Curve”; Sea of Bees, “Orangefarben”; Spiritualized, “Sweet Heart Sweet Light”; SWV, “I Missed Us”; John Tesh, “Big Band”; Thousand Foot Krutch, “The End Is Where We Begin”; Train, “California 37”; The Wave Pictures, “Long Black Cars”; Dar Williams, “In the Time of Gods”; Hank Williams III, “Long Gone Daddy.”

Out April 23: Theresa Andersson, “Street Parade”; Anathema, “Weather Systems”; Bad Veins, “The Mess We’ve Made”; Brendan Benson, “What Kind of World”; Bereft, “Leichenhaus”; BRAD, “United We Stand”; Jeff Bradshaw, “Bon Appétit, Vol. 1 – Main Course”; Lee Brice, “Hard 2 Love”; BT, “Laptop Symphony”; Busy Signal, “Reggae Music Again”; Dandy Warhols, “This Machine”; Deuce, “Nine Lives”; Diamond Rugs, “Diamond Rugs”; Disfiguring the Goddess, “Sleeper”; Electric Guest, “Mondo”; Eve 6, “Speak in Code”; Morten Harket, “Out of My Hands”; The Hudson Branch, “World Kid”; LP, “Into the Wild: Live At EastWest Studios”; Magic Wands, “Aloha Moon”; Leigh Marble, “Where the Knives Meet Between the Rows”; Kip Moore, “Up All Night”; Nothing But Noise, “Not Bleeding Red”; Peasant, “Bound for Glory”; Public Image Ltd., “One Drop”; Joe Satriani, “Satchurated: Live in Montreal”; Curtis Stigers, “Let’s Go Out Tonight”; Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, “Nashville, Volume 1: Tear the Woodpile Down”; Suckers, “Candy Salad”; Trixter, “New Audio Machine”; Walter Trout, “Blues For the Modern Daze”; The Wanted, “The EP”; Jack White, “Blunderbuss”; and Yuna “Yuna.”

• Rob Carroll writes about pop culture and entertainment for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached at rcarroll@shawmedia.com. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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