Although they may have money, fame, and hordes of adoring fans, it must be tough to be an iconic rock and roll band. Every time they release a new batch of material, they run the risk of sounding either too much like their previous selves, or not enough. Worse still is being confronted with the dreaded “return to form” cliché.
For a band like Cheap Trick, it’s even dicier. To which “form” should they return? The sardonic hard rock of their debut? The bubblegum power pop of “Dream Police”? The AOR of “The Flame”? After over four decades in the biz, they’ve covered a lot of ground, so deciding which direction to take presents an ongoing quandary that I don’t envy.
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Best known as the bassist and guitarist of A Place To Bury Strangers for the last few years, Dion Lunadon was recently struck with a “neurotic impulse” to record a solo album. The result is a self-titled collection of 11 tracks.
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If you had the opportunity to catch Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on their triumphant Wrecking Ball Tour in 2012/2013, you’ll recall that one of the show’s highlights was the reworking of the 2002 The Rising track “My City Of Ruins”. Springsteen turned the track – originally written about the deterioration and abandonment of his home town in Asbury Park, NJ and later adopted as a song of hope and faith following the 911 attacks – into a moving gospel performance where he introduced the band on stage as well as the ‘ghosts’ who were missing from the stage. Fallen members of the E Street band no longer with us were remembered and the audience was asked to think about their own missing ghosts.
In a way, Bruce Springsteen is revisiting some of these old ghosts with the release of his latest studio album, High Hopes. The album features performances by deceased E Street Band members Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici on tracks dating as far back as the mid-1990’s. It must be nice to have a tickle-trunk of idle music to mine from as deep as the material Springsteen had to work through in putting together his 18th album. The album features a collection of tracks culled from outtakes, covers and do-overs of songs written over the past decade. Whether these songs didn’t fit thematically or sonically with the vibe Springsteen was going for on recent standout albums like The Rising (2002), Magic (2007) or Wrecking Ball (2012), The Boss felt he had the makings of a meaningful album with these once orphaned tracks.
I’ve been hunting down records for years now and am stunned at the endless supply of amazing and sometimes forgotten music that’s still out there. You need to hear this stuff!
So allow me to share with you some old and new gems from my milk crates. The only thing that I ask from you is that you leave your musical prejudices behind and read on with an open ear.
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Last year, my album of the summer belong to The Beach Boys’ and their reunion album, That’s Why God Made The Radio. It was this great mix of upbeat surfin’ and party songs, matched with the melancholy that only Brian Wilson could create.
While it may be too early to tell, I would wager that at least one of the albums I’ll be listening to a lot this summer is the second album from Fitz and the Tantrums, out today.
More Than Just A Dream is the second studio album from the band, and their first on Elektra Records. Full of upbeat and catchy tracks, the album definitely makes good on all the hype and buzz that surrounded the group two years ago, when their debut album Pick Up The Pieces was all the rage.
There are lots of fun, catchy tracks throughout More Than Just A Dream, but for me, the standouts were the opening song, Out Of My League, and The Walker, which is sure to remind folks of Peter, Bjorn and John and the New Pornographers. Take a listen and I’m sure you’ll agree.
More Than Just A Dream could have been maybe two songs shorter, but this is really a fun, poppy record that keeps the energy high and the melodies memorable. Check it out – you might just find your summer album comes from Fitz and the Tantrums.
My first introduction to The Flaming Lips, like a lot of folks, was their critically acclaimed 1999 album The Soft Parade. Problem was, while everybody else loved it, I didn’t. I mean, it was beautiful in many places,with its layered vocals and production, but I couldn’t get into Wayne Coyne’s voice. I tried, believe you me. When Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots came out, I tried even harder. At War With The Mystics I got into, though. It wasn’t as twee as the previous albums. And then came Embryonic in 2009. That’s when I got it. The Flaming Lips had gone from orchestral pop back to avant-garde, Pink Floydish noise. Beautiful noise, like a psychedelic trip that had no boundaries. This was music I could get into.
It should come as no surprise then, that the band’s new release The Terror, is just what the doctor ordered for this particular listener.
9 out of 10 dentists and rock fans agree, the greatest, most influential guitarist of all time was the one and only Jimi Hendrix. And who are we to argue. In the forty plus years sinc ehis death, Hendrix’s legend and legacy has only grown, while his music has most certainly stood the test of time. Fans have embraced his classic studio albums, but more than that, they’ve lapped up anything and everything that have come out of the Hendix vaults since his death. Case in point – People, Hell & Angels.
Who would have thought a skinny white kid would become the Marvin Gaye of the 2010’s? As strange as it may seem, that’s exactly who Justin Timberlake embodies with his latest album, The 20/20 Experience. Check out his singly Suit and Tie below and then read our review after the jump!
For Christmas/Hanukah this year, my Dad and Stepmom were kind enough to get me a record player. Yes, a record player. Believe it or not, vinyl has been making a huge comeback over the last few years, and most high profile new releases are being released in the format, often including cds and download codes to get either the high-rez or the mp3 version of the album. It’s very smart marketing done by the artist and the record labels.
There’s little question that when it comes to album art, bigger is better, which is part of the reason we’re starting this column. Along with commentary about the music contained in the grooves, each edition of Drop The Needle will have photos so you can get a sense of what the art looks like.
Kicking things off is album more than two decades in the making. Check out a track or two from the new release from My Bloody Valentine, and then I’ll let you in on my vinyl experience after the jump!
There have been a ton of solid new releases over the past few weeks. Green Day, Grizzly Bear, Band Of Horses, The Killers and Mumford & Sons all have new albums out there definitely worth checking out. But there are two new releases that I keep coming back to for repeat listens.
When I listen to music most of the time I’m looking for great songs or melodies, interesting or meaningful lyrics, and great performances either vocally or from the musicianship on the tracks. The latest releases from Pink and Bon Jovi guitar player Richie Sambora have all of the above on display.