Hey Hey, My My, Rock & Roll Can Never Die

It’s been a busy month in the music world, with new records having been released by rockers spanning the generations.  Here are a few of the albums you won’t want to overlook.

John Fogerty—“Revival”

Where Bruce Springsteen took special care to keep his politics obscured by storytelling in his new alb, John Fogerty uses songwriting to keep his politics at the fore.  Using the framework of a country song, Fogerty creates the landscape of a modern America under the Bush regime in the guise of an Old Western town in “Gunslinger”.  Musically, the album is a rock-tinged country/blues record, though Fogerty does channel his swamp-rockin’ Creedence Clearwater Revival days on a few tracks, most notably, “I Can’t Take It No More”.  The only gripe—Fogerty’s message is almost too transparent at times.—MR

Foo Fighters—“Echoes,Silence, Patience & Grace”

On an album of musical diversity, the Foo Fighters’ passion bursts forth.  Every track is filled with a degree of honesty and most exude a feeling of raw power and emotion, both qualities typical of the band.  However, what differentiates this album from the band’s copious discography is the variety of the tracks.  Where past records have had a tendency to become homogenous or protracted, “Echoes” keeps an appropriate pace, interspersing energetic rock and reflective acoustic songs.  Dave Grohl proves that Foo Fighters are still a no-nonsense rock band, telling the emo kids to “Cheer Up, Boys (Your Make-Up is Running)”.—MR
DEFINITIVE TRACK: “Long Road to Ruin”

Jimmy Eat World—“Chase This Light”

Though not as successful as their 2001 release, “Bleed American”, this new record from indie pop-rockers Jimmy Eat World is definitely better than their previous release, the lackluster “Futures”.  The new album is a vigorous, guitar-driven set of uplifting pop-rock songs.  The primary fault of “Chase This Light” is that, at times, it seems only as shiny as its peacock-feather cover—that is, its soaring choruses are catchy but not exactly profound.—MR
DEFINITIVE TRACK: “Electable (Give It Up)”

Neil Young—“Chrome Dreams II”

Neil Young has said “it’s better to burn out than to fade away.”  Well, I, for one, am glad this self-proclaimed “dirty old man” hasn’t burned out yet.  With a selection of songs that accurately presents a well-rounded songwriter, Young demonstrates that he’s far from faded. The many facets of Young’s personality and his diverse influences are clear on this record: “Beautiful Bluebird” is his tender, country side; “Boxcar” his bluegrass; “The Believer” presents a touch of reggae; “Spirit Road” and “Dirty Old Man” utilize the same heavy guitar riffs as his famous hits “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” and “Rockin’ in the Free World”.  Young has managed to assemble a diverse, thoughtful set of songs that showcase his range and hearken back to his previous work.  And in case you were wondering, the name of the record stems from a notorious unreleased album—“Chrome Dreams”—recorded in 1976 (although it did appear as a bootleg over a decade later, in 1993).—MR

Kid Rock— “Rock N Roll Jesus”

The title track on “Jesus” is decent, in which Rock vows to save our rock n’ roll souls. He rants about current events in “Amen,” a nevertheless upbeat and optimistic tune. Rock samples “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Werewolves in London” in “All Summer Long”, as he reminisces his teenage years. If you listen to one song, make it “Roll On”, six captivating minutes of Rock’s sensitive vocals over guitars, drums, a piano, bass and saxophone. In an otherwise strictly southern rock album, he reverts to his metal influences and American Badass persona in “So Hott” and “Half Your Age”, Recommended to fans of his earlier work or those who want a throwback to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bad Company or ZZ Top.—BL

Radiohead—“In Rainbows”

Can someone let me in on this band’s secret? It’s not fair that Radiohead has yet to release a bad or inconsequential studio album by this point in their career. In addition to being firmly established mavericks of the music industry, Thom Yorke and friends consistently challenge both their own sound and accepted musical conventions. “In Rainbows” sounds like icicles—loping, synth-heavy basslines float alongside the melancholy shimmer of Jonny Greenwood’s guitar, as Yorke sings dark lullabies to a distant listener. What makes this album striking is that it sounds so, well, dire. While the woefully under-credited drumming of Phil Selway wasn’t utilized nearly as much on “In Rainbows” as on 2003’s politically-driven “Hail to the Thief”, this record has a remarkable pulse that stands out compared to Radiohead’s previous releases. So, whereas the lion’s share of the press has gone to how the band released “In Rainbows”, let’s not forget that Radiohead’s politics aren’t what make them brilliant, but their mastery of their craft.—LT