While August has been fairly lacklustre in terms of solid new album releases, there’s a ton of great material on the horizon for Fall 2012. Many artists have released singles from their forthcoming releases and here’s a look at the hits and misses so far.
Green Day, “Oh Love” – If you’d have told me in 1994 that Green Day would be one of the most consistent bands over the next 20 years, releasing hit singles, critically acclaimed concept albums and inspiring a successful Broadway production, I would have suggested that perhaps you took one too many shots of mud to the head during their Woodstock ’94 performance. 65 million albums and multiple Grammy awards later, the San Francisco, California power-trio continues to deliver radio-friendly tracks while somehow maintaining their punk rock credibility. “Oh Love” is the first single from their upcoming trilogy of albums ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, and ¡Tré! to be released between September and January. The track finds lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong in strong voice delivering a catchy, power-pop anthem that works as both a sing-a-long and arena rocker.
Matchbox 20, “She’s So Mean” – It’s hard to believe it’s been almost ten years since Matchbox 20 released a full album of new material. Between compilations of hits, EPs and of course, lead singer Rob Thomas’ solo work and high profile collaborations, it’s like the band never went on hiatus. They certainly haven’t been absent from mainstream/adult-contemporary rock radio, as their early hits are still in high rotation. “She’s So Mean” is the debut single from the band’s upcoming North album. The track picks up right where earlier hits like “3 AM”, “Real World”, and “If You’re Gone” left off. It’s a terribly catchy song that I can’t help but enjoy. It’s not going to change the world, but “She’s So Mean” has a great riff, solid groove and Thomas’ lyrics land somewhere between the Stones’ “She Was Hot” and Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl”.
Bob Dylan, “Duquesne Whistle“ – There`s really no point in reviewing or critiquing the work of Bob Dylan. He does what he does. For most of his career, fans have looked to his lyrics for his take on life, love and religion, but on recent releases his music does most of the talking. “Duquesne Whistle” is the first we`ve heard from Dylan`s 35th studio album, entitled Tempest. Early reports are that the album is dark and bluesy so it makes perfect sense for the lead single to be light and bouncy, right? The opening moments of the track sound like they could have been lifted from a 1930’s Western. Then the voice kicks in (think Tom Waits) and the band is humming along as they keep up the Dixieland shuffle behind Dylan’s growl. The playing by Dylan’s long-time backing band is loose and jangly, which perfectly fits another one of his train-inspired rides. You can almost picture the band and Bob riding as stowaways in an old boxcar performing the track.
The Killers, “Runaways” – Sometimes bands just try too hard to capture their former greatness or sound or live up to some unattainable expectations. The Killers had some great moments on their first two studio albums (“Mr. Brightside”, “All These Things That I’ve Done”, and “When We Were Young”) but since then they’ve struggled to find their sound. Too often I feel like they’re trying to sound like Born To Run-era Springsteen without the material to support the vision. “Runaways” sounds like another attempt to create an epic track that falls short. Hopefully the rest of Battle Born finds The Killers back in their sweet spot.
No Doubt, “Settle Down” – No Doubt is another band trying to get their groove back. It’s been 11 years since their last release and their forthcoming Push and Shove album took close to four years to make. Did it take them that long to come up with new material or was the magic gone? Some accounts of the process indicate that perhaps lead singer Gwen Stefani’s heart wasn’t in the project and she may be back in the band more out of obligation to her old band mates and not due to a desire to be back in No Doubt. “Settle Down” is a decent reggae/ska-inspired No Doubt track and there are flashes of the playfulness that put the band on the map. We’ll see if the energy is still there when the band gets on the road, which is truly where No Doubt were at their best in the early 2000’s.
Aerosmith – Despite the fact that Music From Another Dimension doesn’t hit this dimension until November, Aerosmith have already leaked and/or released three singles from their first album of all original material since 2001. Pledging a back-to-basics approach, the first three tracks sound, well, like Aerosmith. There’s a power-ballad (“What Could Have Been Love”), a bluesy, riff rocker (“Lover Lost”), and an 80’s hairband throwback (“Legendary Child”). The results aren’t spectacular, but anytime you get Steven Tyler and Joe Perry focused on working together to create the Aerosmith sound, it can’t be all bad. Time will tell if the toxic twins can keep it together and bring the material to life on tour in 2012/2013.