Various artists cover oldies and goodies

“War Child Presents: Heroes”
Various Artists
3 stars out of 5

Plenty of cover compilations come out each year, most of them featuring totally uncalled for and preposterous undertakings (see: the Punk Goes. series).

While the need for Duffy covering Paul McCartney may not be entirely clear, “War Child Presents: Heroes” at least maintains relevance.

The theme is new artists covering old favorites, but there’s a catch: Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and the other old-timers hand-picked not only the newbies who’d do the covering, but what song would be undertaken. The result is pairings that make sense: Boss worshipers The Hold Steady covering “Atlantic City,” current New York City art-rockers TV On The Radio covering an old one (David Bowie) and Lily Allen covering The Clash (deceased frontman Joe Strummer was her godfather) along with guitarist Mick Jones.

While all the covers don’t bring something entirely new and innovative to the chosen tracks, it’s all for a good cause (benefiting children in war-torn countries), so there’s plenty of reason to just sit back and enjoy.

Key Tracks: “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat” (Beck covering Bob Dylan), “Superstition” (Estelle covering Stevie Wonder), “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” (Yeah Yeah Yeahs covering The Ramones)

U2
“No Line on the Horizon”
2.5 stars out of 5

After their last album was unjustly criticized for being safe and predictable, U2 promised that their next effort would offer something wholly new and exciting to long-time fans. More than four years later, they’ve released “No Line on the Horizon,” a disappointingly muddled album that comes up short on its promise.

On any given song, the album finds itself treading one of two different waters. The first is a rehashing of past styles in an effort to jump-start the band. Even “Magnificent,” one of the better songs on “Horizon,” is essentially a hybrid of shimmering “Joshua Tree” guitars and “War”-reminiscent drums.

The other type of songs here, the ones that attempt to dive into new territory, feel misguided. Where 1991’s “Achtung Baby” fearlessly took the band into a tight electronic-influenced style, left turns such as the single “Get on Your Boots,” come off as half-hearted and sloppy.

In the end, the album’s title is rather telling of its unfocused nature. It’s hard to say what U2’s next move should be, but if one thing is certain, they should be sure to see more than a blurry vision before committing themselves to time in the studio.

Key Tracks: “No Line on the Horizon,” “Magnificent”