Big Plans for Van Halen in 2012

It’s not quite geezer rock, but Van Halen with original front man David Lee Roth is definitely a blast from the past. But in today’s fragmented music scene, the older legends still command plenty of attention as they can attract both older fans and young kids to sell out arenas and stadiums. That’s even more true overseas.

We don’t know all their plans for 2012, but it looks like Van Halen is gearing up for a big year that will feature a new album along with a monster tour. According to Rolling Stone they are planning a sneak peak this week:

Journalists across New York have been invited to a Van Halen concert at the Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village this Thursday. Though nothing is official, word is the band are going to perform a 45-minute set. The group hasn’t played in public since the end of their 2007/’08 reunion tour with original frontman David Lee Roth, though they have been rehearsing for their upcoming world tour at the Roxy in Los Angeles for the past few months. A new album is in the works, and a new image released by the band has the date 2.7.12 on it. A new video and single is expected to hit sometime this month. The tour goes on sale January 10th.

Van Halen will definitely be one of the touring acts that gets a lot of buzz in 2012 and you can get concert tickets here and see who will be touring. Roger Waters is another classic rocker who will be jamming venues in 2012. Hopefully it will be a great year for concert fans.

  

Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses: Junky Star


RIYL: The Black Crowes, Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, Bob Dylan

Many know Bingham only from “The Weary Kind,” his deep country Oscar-winning song from “Crazy Heart” that he wrote with producer T Bone Burnett. But Bingham’s sophomore effort, 2009’s Roadhouse Sun, was a critically acclaimed rock ‘n’ roll album, and rightly so. That album – as well as his excellent 2007 debut Mescalito – was produced by ex-Black Crowes guitarist Marc Ford. It was clear that Bingham and Ford shared a taste for mixing rock and country elements into some tasty Americana sounds. Both albums were a mix of high energy rock tracks with some low-key, yet compelling country/blues tunes.

It’s therefore puzzling to see Rolling Stone’s Mark Kemp taking Bingham to task for not being more like Billy Joe Shaver, and giving Junky Star just 2.5 stars. Kemp should be immediately relieved of album review duties, because Junky Star is one of 2010’s best. It features Burnett in the producer’s chair, bringing his patented old school blues production techniques, so the sound is fab but it’s not quite as rocking as the first two albums. But this is still Bingham’s show and the album includes some of his best rock songs yet. Is he seeking to tap further into the country crossover market? Perhaps. But anyone who’s caught the live headlining show from Bingham and his Dead Horses knows this is a rock ‘n’ roll band at its core.

Album opener “The Poet” draws the listener in with a laid back vibe, with Bingham’s soulful voice backed mainly by just acoustic guitar and harmonica. It’s one of the most unique voices in music today, like a genuine cowboy (Bingham spent time on the professional rodeo circuit before moving into music) but with the soul of a hippie. The band kicks in for “The Wandering,” and a great band it is. The Dead Horses aren’t just sidemen, but a tight unit with chemistry. The uplifting, mid-tempo number features Bingham at his heartfelt best. “Strange Feelin’ in the Air” has a big bluesy Western sound, featuring slide guitar and more of those gritty vocals.

The title track delves back into “Crazy Heart” territory, with a bluesy, country-ish tune about love lost and feeling down and out. It’s on the somber side, but those heartfelt lonely vocals about “stumbling on the whiskey from the bar” remain compelling. “Yesterday’s Blues” and “Lay My Head on the Rail” delve into similar stripped-down country blues flavor.

A top highlight is song of the year candidate “Depression,” a gorgeously layered zeitgeist rocker about keeping it together after losing one’s job amidst the nation’s economic woes. “Hallelujah” is a highlight too, starting with rich textures before building into a mid-tempo blues catharsis. “Direction of the Wind” is another great zeitgeist rocker, an upbeat bluesy romp with slide guitar and politically-edged vocals that recall classic Bob Dylan. “Hard Worn Trail” features bluesy acoustic picking that recalls Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive,” before giving way to more of a Western soundtrack vibe. Bingham’s voice takes on a haunting quality that brings the song to life. “All Choked Up Again” closes the album with a slow but shimmering Western tune about a gambling man.

The last third of the album could use one more rocker, but there’s no one on the scene who is blending rock with country and western blues flavors like Bingham & the Dead Horses. Bingham has become one of modern music’s most intriguing troubadors precisely because of how his gritty soulful voice personifies the growing intersection between rock and country. Junky Star fuses the genres beautifully. (Lost Highway 2010)

Ryan Bingham MySpace page

  

Anthony Bozza: Why AC/DC Matters

Aptly priced at $16.66, Bozza’s tribute to the “greatest living rock band” is packaged like any of a million little impulse-buy, gift books that clutter the front counters of chain stores and independents alike. Unlike those books, which tend to be scant collections of unfunny jokes, sappy homilies, or sound-bite life instructions, Bozza has written a fiery, fast paced, aggressively written love cry to one of the most indestructible and eminently powerful rock bands ever.

Like AC/DC itself, Bozza’s writing is both straightforward and accessible, while challenging in its condemnation of rock criticism in general and unquestionably catchy as any good story should be. His introduction is as short and hard-hitting as the intro to Back in Black, quickly setting down the purpose behind his book and giving us a personal feel for his relationship with the band and music that has been nearly lifelong. It also provides a quick, but important critique of modern music writing that is a must read for anyone (this reviewer included) who wants to be an authentic voice in musical journalism.

The chapters are divided into small bios of the band members, crossed with succinct but erudite studies of the various musicalities. While getting the story of the “youngest Youngs” Malcolm and Angus and their rise to iconic status, we also get a fine analysis of their guitar method and idiosyncrasies. What comes across is the surprising quality of brotherly support that is not only at the heart of AC/DC’s professional success, but also their self-taught musical skill; skill that can be lost in the visceral impact of the songs themselves. When telling the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tale of Bon Scott and the transition to Brian Johnson, Bozza not only grants us an immerse sense of the musical history behind the band, but we get a physiology lesson in hard rock singing. Continuing through Mark Evans, Cliff Williams and the amazing Phil Rudd, he manages to deconstruct AC/DC’s music without killing the magic.

The book ends with a heartfelt ode to the fans who have stood by this band for 36 years, providing a sense of continuity that provides an excellent case study in AC/DC of the massive changes to the music industry; massive changes the band has navigated with an unrelenting forward momentum based on honest, blood & guts, rock & roll integrity.

Bozza loves AC/DC, and with this short, gut punch of a book, he proves you should to.

For those about to rock… read this book!

Click to buy Why AC/DC Matters from Amazon

  

Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown

With American Idiot in 2004, Green Day released one of the best rock albums of the past 20 years. I immediately went from casual fan to huge fan with that record. The music was incredibly powerful, but the lyrics were even more impressive. Green Day was willing to make a rebellious political statement at a time when most of the country was in a collective stupor, consumed by the “war on terror.” They didn’t hold back, and the result was stunning. Bullz-Eye’s David Medsker summed it up in his review of the record.

Green Day’s biggest conceit was that they were what they seemed, a group of snot nosed punks who would rather beat off in front of the TV than take a stand on anything of importance. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. No band writes tunes as sharp as “Longview,” “Geek Stink Breath” and “Hitchin’ a Ride” without some synapses firing. And with their newest, American Idiot, the cat’s out of the bag; they wrote a concept album, which actually brings the band full circle. With songs that both rocked and popped, they were more of a mod band and a punk band, and American Idiot pays heartfelt tribute to their mod forefathers the Who while eviscerating the current pop culture climate at the same time. It’s heady stuff, to be sure; they’ll certainly never get away with acting like slackers again. The world knows better now.

Many fans have been waiting for their follow-up effort, and 21st Century Breakdown arrives in stores in May. Rolling Stone scored an “early listen” to six tracks from the record. We weren’t so lucky, but we bring you their impressions.

As previously reported, the 16-track album is broken into three acts — Heroes and Cons, Charlatans and Saints, and Horseshoes and Handgrenades — and Dirnt told AP magazine that the songs “speak to each other the way the songs on [Bruce Springsteen’s] Born to Run speak to each other. I don’t know if you’d call it a ‘concept album,’ but there’s a thread that connects everything.” The songs are defiant, but also defiantly hopeful, referencing the unsettled political climate as well as more personal and generational turmoils. Its blend of claustrophobia and freedom is well illustrated by the album’s cover art, which depicts a tight shot of a young couple kissing against a graffiti-covered wall.

Defiant. I love it. Can’t wait.

  

Rolling Stone breaks down the odds for Super Bowl XLIV halftime act

It’s almost a year away, but that didn’t stop the folks at Rolling Stone from throwing out the names of a few potential acts to follow in Bruce Springsteen’s footsteps.

It’s a tall order to fill: applicants must be legendary but still active, rocking but not raucous, and as big as the game itself. So who’s left? Oddsmakers are already lining up favorites for next year’s Lombardi Trophy (The Patriots? Really? No love for your new champs, the Pittsburgh Steelers? Your loss, Vegas.), so we thought we’d set the odds for next year’s halftime show. The NFL could go country (Tim McGraw? Taylor Swift?) or pop (Kelly Clarkson will soon return to us), but you have to presume they’ll stick with what works — big rock from big names. We have, of course, completely pulled these names and numbers out of thin air, plus gambling’s illegal just about everywhere, so keep your money in your wallet.

The Who
Pros: Legendary band with a sound louder than the game itself.
Cons: None. They’re the Who.
Odds: 3/2

In addition to the magazine’s suggestions — The Who (solid), Bon Jovi (solid), AC/DC (too hard), John Mellencamp (solid), Metallica (too hard), Van Halen (maybe), Nickelback (why?), Green Day (big enough profile?), Foo Fighters (see Green Day), Jay-Z (didn’t he retire?) — I’ll throw a few out there as well: Bob Seger, Neil Diamond, Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton, the Black Crowes, the Eagles and the Steve Miller Band.

Who do you think should provide the halftime entertainment next year?

  

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