August Rocks

Posted: July 27, 2014 in Uncategorized



webSmack dab in the middle of summer, and here we are – dripping with sweat, anxious for the kids to get back to school and actually looking forward to the cooler temperatures the next couple of months promise to deliver. In the midst of the summer heat, summer music is sizzling as well. Walk in to your record store this week and just take a look at the names that are being featured as the soundtrack to the summer. Among all the newcomers and one hit wonders, some pretty impressive names are owning the end-caps and chart positions (hell, even Weird Al Yankovic just scored his first number one album on the Billboard charts), proving that great musicians and great music will always be around – and may just be appreciated now more than ever.  Here’s a few you won’t want to miss.




Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye (July 29)

Outside of such icons as maybe Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen, no one has a louder voice in Americana rock more than Tom Petty. With over 80 million records sold over the course of his career, Petty has established himself as one of music’s greatest names and truly defines the blues-induced midwestern rock he’s been known for since the late 70s. His latest album, Hypnotic Eye, sticks to the formula that brought him to the dance – with no frills, no tricks, and no excuses.

Right off the bat, the opener “American Dream Plan B” sets the tone for the disc. It immediately feels a little heavier than you might be expecting – but that’s not a bad thing. After countless albums and a long, historic career one wouldn’t blame Petty for maybe dialing-one-in and resting on his laurels, but instead it feels like he truly has something to say. Something with a little more message than in the past.

While I’ve never considered Petty to be political and opinionated in a lot of his lyrics, this album is filled with strong sentiment and messages – both straightforward and subliminal – throughout. Tracks like “Power Drunk” and “Shadow People” should – and will – rattle your social conscience while “Sins of My Youth” is an outpouring of introspection that you can’t help but parallel to your own existence – and that’s not the kind of stuff I’m used to dealing with on a Tom Petty album. Fortunately, though, the lyrical overload doesn’t take anything away from the loose, free-flowing music along the way. After all, it’s still a Heartbreakers record, and that pretty much guarantees a lot of toe-tapping and air-guitar strummimg.

In an era when electronic gadgetry and studio magic tricks are all the rage, it’s nice to have a no-nonsense rock record that feels genuine and grounded. It’s what Tom Petty has always been, and exactly what Hypnotic Eye is – which is exactly why you should cherish it.




Godsmack – 1000 HP (August 5th)

Sully Erna and Godsmack have been quite the enigma since breaking through on to the scene in the late 1990s. After firing off album after album of critically praised releases throughout the early 200s, the band seemed to run out of gas a bit, releasing only two studio albums (IV, The Oracle) since 2006. Rumors of the bands demise have swirled over the last few years, and after a completely lackluster performance as headliners of 2011’s Rock Jam (a performance that I admittedly walked out on), the question is now out there – would anyone care about a new Godsmack album in 2014, and would it kick ass or suck ass?

Godsmack returns with 1000 HP, and as much as I wanted to hate this album, I don’t. In fact, it feels like Erna and company have absolutely refilled the tanks and placed the proverbial pedal to the metal once again. The record is filled with the adrenaline rush and voodoo creep that made such tracks as “Keep Away” and “I Stand Alone” hard rock anthems. Even the band knew they needed to get back to the roots, as Erna quips “Time to rewind/back to 1995” in the album-opening title track.

More heaviness ensues with chest pounders like “FML”, Generation Day”, and “Locked and Loaded” – laying waste to any thoughts that the band had grown soft or simply quit caring about their music. These, along with most of the rest of the album, prove that Godsmack was merely playing the role of the snake in the grass, laying quietly for the perfect opportunity to strike.

While the venom aims for the kill, the album isn’t completely filled with balls-to-the-wall fury. “Nothing Comes Easy” is a slower paced, haunting affair that sounds more like gothic rock than heavy metal, and “Something Different” is exactly that – an experimental piece with key changes and cello solos that while not necessarily a “fit” amongst the rest of the rockers shows that the band is still invested in defining a sound all their own that defies most genre-labeling.

A mere four-year absence doesn’t necessarily qualify for a “comeback”, but if you’ve been waiting as long as I have for Godsmack to start being Godsmack again, what seemed like an eternity is finally over, as 1000 HP is the album you (and I) have been waiting for.




Ted Nugent – Shut Up and Jam! (July 15)

Chances are, the most recent thing you’ve heard from Uncle Ted hasn’t had anything to do with music.  The “Motor City Madman” has spent much of his public appearances the last few years bashing the Obama administration, calling out the LGBT movement, chastising Native Americans – and pretty much alienating everyone possible with his pro-gun/pro-conservative opinions every chance possible. This year, petitions and protesters have made his concert appearances more of a circus than the music ever did, but you can’t really blame the guy.

Nugent’s no-holds-barred approach is all he knows. Even from the early stages of his career with the Amboy Dukes, Ted’s reckless and relentless style and personality is what allowed him to carve his name in to the music industry – whether you liked it or not. Amidst all the chatter and controversy, though, it appears that Ted Nugent just may be extending the olive branch a bit with his latest effort, Shut Up and Jam!  I’m not sure if the album title is a message to his detractors, or a tongue-in-cheek reminder to himself to let the music do the talking – either way, the record is a great bi-partisan reminder of what rock and roll records should sound like.

The 12-song assault on your speakers is bonafide Nugent. Ripping guitars, wailing vocals, and proof positive that the Nuge is still one of the best in the business in delivering great rock and roll.  The riotous title track, as well as the blues-heavy “Everything Matters” rank right up there with some of Ted’s best songs, while Sammy Hagar drops in for “She’s Gone”, another great jam. Innocent rockers like “I Love My BBQ” and “I Still Believe” carry an almost-cheesy “can’t-we-all-get-along” attitude, but actually shows that Nugent is tired of being the spokesman-cum-crazy, and just wants to get back to doing what he does best – delivering repeated kicks in the ass of good old rock and roll.

Proof that sometimes the best advice comes from within.



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