Bruce Springsteen's discography is so full of highly conceptualized and carefully sequenced albums that it's hard to know what to make of “High Hopes” — at least initially. A quixotic collection of odds 'n' sods, it finds him mostly diving into his prodigious vaults to revisit (and in some cases re-create) years-old material that mostly merits more than leftover status. The title track, for instance, is a cover of a Havalinas song Springsteen first recorded in 1995 and has now turned into a brassy showcase for the current incarnation of the E Street Band, while “American Skin” gets a powerful new studio makeover. “Harry's Place,” which features the late E Street Band members Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici, has a foreboding, ambient street vibe that makes it as richly evocative as other tracks, such as the gospel-tinged “Heaven's Wall,” the folk-styled “Hunter of Invisible Game” and “The Wall,” and the Celtic-flavored “This is Your Sword.” He also covers the Saints' “Just Like Fire Would” and Suicide's “Dream Baby Dream,” while the soulful rocker “Frankie Fell in Love” sounds like something Springsteen and company played in Jersey shore clubs during the early '70s.
Jennifer Nettles, “That Girl” (Mercury Nashville), ***
Taking a momentary step away from Sugarland, Jennifer Nettles does exactly what a successful band artist is supposed to do on a solo album — anything BUT what he or she does with the group. Nettles nods a bit to country here on tracks such as the uptempo “Moneyball” and the rockin' honky tonk of “Know You Wanna Know,” but working with producer Rick Rubin and songwriting collaborators such as Richard Marx, Butch Walker, Sara Bareilles and Little Big Town's Phillip Sweet, she mostly delves into gentle melodic paeans such as “Falling,” “Me Without You” and “Thank You” and shows real passion and acumen as a soul belter on the powerhouse closing couplet of her own “Good Time to Cry” and a cover of Bob Seger's “Like a Rock.” We certainly don't want to see Nettles abandon Sugarland, but here's hoping that she's not done exploring these other musical terrains, either.New & Noteworthy:
The American Professionals, “We Make It Our Business” (Charlie in the Box): The second full-length album from the San Francisco power pop trio led by former Actionslacks member Chuck Lindo.
Bastille, “All This Bad Blood” (Virgin/EMI): The British electro pop group expands its debut release, “Bad Blood,” with two new songs plus B-sides, mixtape tracks and other rarities.
Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, “South” (File Under Music): The latest outing from the all-star Canadian country-rock group whose Colin Linden is part of ABC's “Nashville” team.
David Broza, “East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem” (S-Curve): The Israeli singer-songwriter recorded his latest set with both Israelis and Palestinians, with guest appearances by Wyclef Jean and co-producer Steve Earle, who duets on Broza's cover of his “Jerusalem.”
Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Songs From the Movie” (Zoe/Rounder): Carpenter offers up new orchestral arrangements of 10 of her older songs, arranged and conducted by Grammy Award winner Vince Mendoza.
Rosanne Cash, “The River & the Thread” (Blue Note): Another characteristically exceptional set from Cash, this time exploring her Southern roots with an all-star cast of musical helpers.
Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound, “Fine Rude Thing” (Groovesbur Joys): The Milwaukee troupe blends Midwest heart with New Orleans and Caribbean grooves on this 11-song set.
The Crystal Method, “The Crystal Method” (Tiny e): The electronic duo's fifth studio album includes guest vocals by LeAnn Rimes, Franky Perez and “The Voice's” Dia Frampton.
De La Tierra, “De La Tierra” (Roadrunner): The debut outing by the Latin heavy metal all-star group featuring members of Sepultura, Mana and other bands.
Devour the Day, “Time & Pressure” (Fat Lady Music): The debut outing from the Memphis hard rock duo formed by ex-Egypt Central members Joey “Chicago” Walser and Blake Allison.
Tinsley Ellis, “Midnight Blue” (Heartfixer): The Georgia-born blues guitarist's latest album includes a version of his “A Quitter Never Wins,” which was previously recorded by Jonny Lang.
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, “Give the People What They Want” (Dap-Tone): The soul singer returns in good form after a successful cancer battle that kept her off the road for the better part of two years.
Luna, “Luna” (Domo): The esoteric Korean musician takes on songs by Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Mike Oldfield and more on this covers set.
Mindless Self Indulgence, “F— Machine” (Metropolis): A decidedly unsubtle remix album that includes contributions from KMFDM, Combichrist, Black Lipstick, Chantal Claret and others.
Jon Pardi, “Write You a Song” (Capitol Nashville): The upstart California country singer shows what he's got beyond the breakthrough hits (“Missin' You Crazy” and “Up All Night”) that preceded this set.
Railroad Earth, “Last of the Outlaws” (Black Bear): More pickin' and grinnin' from the New Jersey Newgrass group.
Supersuckers, “Get the Hell” (MVD): Eddie Spaghetti and company are still punky and proud of it as they celebrate their 25th anniversary with their first new album in five years.
Switchfoot, “Fading West” (lowercase people/Atlantic): The San Diego modern rockers' ninth studio album is a companion to the surf documentary of the same name, featuring songs both in and inspired by the film.From The Vaults
Lynda Carter, “Portrait” (Epic/Legacy); Crazy Horse, “Scratchy: The Complete Reprise Recordings” (Wounded Bird); Deep Purple, “Live in Stuttgart 1993” (Cherry Red); Mark Lanegan, “Has God Seen My Shadow: An Anthology 1989-2011 (Light in the Attic);” Lone Justice, “This is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes 1983” (Omnivore); Alan White, “Ramshackled” (Wounded Bird); Lucinda Williams, “Lucinda Williams” (Thirty Tigers)Soundtracks
Roque Banos, “Oldboy” (Varese); Tangerine Dream, “Thief” (Perseverance)