Tag Archives: Cheap Trick

Hear the new Cheap Trick Song For The Price of Your Email Address

It seems like only yesterday that I was complaining about the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame nominees. I was 100% convinced that classic rockers Cheap Trick were going to get shut-out their first time on the ballots…but I was wrong! Not that it really matters (to quote Freddie Mercury, “nothing really matters…”) but the band was able to get into the Hall of Fame. Rather than legitimizing the band, this move only serves to legitimize the Hall. Only slightly, of course.

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Anyway, the band has a new album coming out this year titled BANG ZOOM CRAZY HELLO, which is a really awful title but I’ll give the band a pass because they’re legends. The band has released a brand new song off this forthcoming album on their website. The song, which is titled “No Direction Home,” can be downloaded for the price of your email address. I would say that the song is free but as we all know, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. So, if you don’t mind getting emails from Cheap Trick, you can hear the brand new song.

Is it worth the potential spam? I think so. While “No Direction Home” is by no means the greatest Cheap Trick song of all time, it’s a pretty catchy little diddy. It’s a very Beatle-esque piece of power pop with a few ELO-like production flourishes. I really enjoyed the sugary-sweet melodies and the lyrical hook. It’s classic Cheap Trick, through and through. There’s a guitar lick that sounds very familiar to me, almost like something from an early Clapton song. I’ve been trying to work out which one for the past few days, but it has thus far eluded me. I will say that the absence of long-time drummer Bun E. Carlos is a bit of a bummer (what the hell happened there?) but I guess we can’t have everything, can we?

Anyway, if this song is any indication of the quality of the new album then we should all be really excited. Click here to download the new song.

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2016 Rock And Roll Hall of Fame Nominees Depress Me

I’m not even sure why I’m bothering to even write about this. Let me state upfront that I think the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is 100% complete and utter bullshit. The idea of a Hall of Fame is so un-rock and roll it’s not even funny. Then when you learn who is and isn’t in the Hall of Fame it becomes clear just how meaningless it all really is. Humans like lists and categories, which I totally get, but why does this thing need to exists? I mean, really?

So once for whatever reason I went on the Hall of Fame’s Official website…and boy did it bum me out. For the first time ever, the Hall is collecting fan votes that will be tallied alongside the regular votes to help determine who will be inducted this year. The list of nominees runs the gambit between no-brainers (The Cars, Cheap Trick, Deep Purple) and real headscratchers (Chic, The JB’s, Los Lobos). That Janet Jackson and Chicago are on this ballot just goes to show you how dumb this Hall of Fame really is. Look, I get that we can broaden the definition of “rock” and include N.W.A in the Hall…but should we really do that BEFORE iconic bands like Deep Purple and Cheap Trick are inducted into the Hall? That’s a rhetorical question.

I guess, if you feel so inclined, go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s website and cast your votes. Then check out the fan vote results so far, they’re super depressing!

I'm gonna need a stiff drink...

I’m gonna need a stiff drink…

Cheap Trick is #7! Who the hell is voting? It must be all the dude’s in Yes. Should Yes be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Hell no, they’re a prog-rock band that had a few hits back in the day. They do NOT deserve to be in the Hall before CHEAP TRICK or Deep Purple. Sure, Deep Purple may be considered a one-hit wonder too…but that one-hit is a song so iconic that even I can play it on guitar! And I can’t play guitar.

Happy Friday.

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Please Stop Emailing/Commenting/Messaging Me About COUNTRYSIDE BLVD.

One of my most popular posts is an article I wrote about singer Robin Zander’s mysterious country-ish solo album.  That record, COUNTRYSIDE BLVD, is a solid effort from one of rock’s more interesting frontmen (Zander is the lead singer of Cheap Trick).  I wouldn’t call it great, but it’s pleasant enough, and yet people will not stop contacting me about this record.  So what’s so special about COUNTRYSIDE BLVD? Well, due to murky record label shenanigans, the album has never been properly released.

Dear DREAM POLICE: What is under that hat?

Dear DREAM POLICE: What is under that hat?

Well, that’s not true…the album has been released on a variety of digital music platforms (like Amazon’s music store) only to be yanked down time and again after being available for only a few hours.  Thus, 99.99% of Zander’s fans have only heard the album in pieces or through bootleg copies.   It was recently announced on Zander’s (amazingly cartoonish) website that a live album of this material is going to be released…soon.  How strange is that? A live album coming out when the proper album is not? Clearly this is case is a textbook, quintessential, case of the darkside of the record industry/music biz if there was one.

I am literally speechless.  SOURCE: RobinZanderband.com

I am literally speechless. SOURCE: RobinZanderband.com

I acquired a copy of the album (digitally, natch) through a hardcore Cheap Trick fan/podcaster who shall remain nameless.  I don’t approve to illegal downloading, after all I’m the rube who buys CD’s and pays for Spotify (well, I used to at least, till my finances took a tumble when I relocated).  That said, when something is not made available for the public to buy, I don’t have problem with file sharing.  That said, if you download this album from me and it somehow sees the light of day, please buy it. Robin Zander needs all the money he can get to hide that receding hairline.

Click here for COUNTRYSIDE BLVD.

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TSAR Returns with THE DARK STUFF Ep!

If there’s one thing that I love, it’s finding out that a band I really love has put out new music.  But what I love even more is when a band I’ve completely written off as “disbanded” returns with new music. LA rockers TSAR put out two phenomenal albums that really didn’t get the attention they deserved.

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Their self-titled debut album is more than worthy of a CLASSIC ALBUMS REVISITED post and their last record, BAND GIRLS MONEY was worthy follow-up that proved the band wasn’t a fluke.  But then something happened, I don’t know because I’m not in LA and I don’t follow that scene…but TSAR went away.  Then, a few days ago, I was prepping my iPhone for a trip and what do I see on Spotify? Brand-spanking new TSAR music.

THE DARK STUFF is an Ep of five songs; all killer, no filler power-pop perfection.  Upon first listen, I was surprised at how dark THE DARK STUFF really is.  Sure, the music is still sugary and fun; but TSAR aren’t pulling any punches–these songs have a real bite to them.  The first song, “Punctual Alcoholic” is a demented, spooky song that appropriately name-checks Stephen King.  The phrase punctual alcoholic  is one of those really good TSAR-isms that I’ve been missing over the last few years.  

Despite being really well-produced, the song was a bit of shock in that it wasn’t as hyper-produced as the songs from BAND GIRLS MONEY.  It’s a really good, really catchy song that instantly reminded me why I love this band.

The second track, “Police Station” is a more straight-forward rocker and sounded more akin to the songs from the band’s last album, but toned down and more thoughtful.  I especially like the reference’s to “Teen Wizards,” another of the band’s songs.  “Little Woman” returns to the darker, melodic quality that gives the Ep it’s name.

The best song on THE DARK STUFF is the last track, “Something Bad Happened To Me.”  Like “Punctual Alcoholic,” it’s more restrained than the band’s previous album but edgier.  It’s like a haunted-house where the music is provided by Cheap Trick by way of George Harrison, The Cars, and Steely Dan.  It’s a very cool, multi-faceted song that seamlessly morphs from acoustic noodle to electric monster.

TSAR is still a great power pop band, but with THE DARK STUFF the band seems to be moving away from the endless-partyrock sensability and more textured, mature rock.  I didn’t think it would be possible for TSAR to come back and actually be more interesting than they already were, but with THE DARK STUFF the band has proven that not only are they back but they’re better than ever.  I only hope that we don’t have to wait long for the full album.

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Robin Zander’s Secret Country Album: COUNTRYSIDE BLVD.

I’ve been on a roll with the country-themed posts, so I decided to do one more.  I’ve been meaning to reviewing COUNTRYSIDE BLVD.,  Robin Zander’s long-gestating (country) solo album with a complicated release history.  The record was supposed to come out a few years ago but has been stalled for reasons no one seems to know.  Apparently it was for sale on the Zune music service for two days before the record label spontaneously removed it. Since this is 2012, I of course have a bootleg copy of the album which I have been enjoying…

Robin Zander, a real rhinestone cowboy.

So why the delays? Well, it might have something to do with the fact that, on paper at least, a country album from the lead singer of Cheap Trick would be a train-wreck–an utter mess of twang and vanity, fit only for the most fervent Cheap Trick/Zander fan.  I adore Cheap Trick and think Zander can (almost) do no wrong, but even I was skeptical when I first heard about COUNTRYSIDE BLVD.  But after giving it a few listens I can honestly say that it’s really good.

The key to COUNTRYSIDE BLVD. not being an epic pile of shite is this: the album isn’t really hard-core country.  It’s a rock album with country overtones and twangy guitars (and some fiddling).  Robin Zander did not record a Garth Brooks record by any stretch.  Like many solo albums of those involved in major bands, there are many songs that sound as though they could have easily fit onto the next Cheap Trick record.  If like me, you’re starved for Cheap Trick, then this is a very good thing.  If Cheap Trick ain’t your bag, then you’re probably not going to find much to like on COUNTRYSIDE BLVD.

The album opens with “Every Dog,” which sounds like a weaker Traveling Wilbury’s number.  It’s not quite rock, not quite country  and right away there are Hare Krishna references.  It’s a good song and pretty representative of what lies ahead: Wilburys-esque rockers with an eccentric-lyrical bent. I’m sure Zander’s vocals have been touched up, but damn does he still sound good.  Even if it is a special effect, one can’t help but admire how great he still sounds.  I especially was impressed with his cooing on “Love Comes*.”  It might seem like a silly thing, but I don’t think it’s easy for most singers to belt it out one minute then come all the way down to a gentle coo.

Standouts on the album include the gentle ballad “Heart of Glass” and the barn-burner “Say You Will.”  The former being a countrified version of the epic tender-jams Cheap Trick are famous (notorious?) for.  “Say You Will” is a solid rave-up that finds Zander wailing á la Little Richard.

The best song, though, on COUNTRYSIDE BLVD. is “Pamela Jean.”  However, the first time I heard it I thought that my iTunes had skipped, or that the album was over, and I was hearing Cheap Trick.  “Pamela Jean” really stands out as a great song, but it doesn’t have much in common with the more countrified-songs on the record.   So here I am, saying that the best song on the record is the one that seems to fit-in the least.  I guess that’s a crappy backhanded compliment to both the song and the record, and perhaps this is the fatal flaw that’s doomed COUNTRYSIDE BLVD. from ever being properly released.

And so, while COUNTRYSIDE BLVD.  is a mind-blowing revelation,  it’s by no means the terrible album many have inferred it to be.  Hell, with all the hoop-la surrounding the album’s release (or lack thereof), the fact that it’s not an embarrassment comes as a relief.  I think this would be an awesome album to take along on a long, moonlight drive.  It’s a shame we all cant’ go to the store/iTunes and buy COUNTRYSIDE BLVD.  but in the meantime take a listen to “Pamela Jean”.  Just don’t tell the label.

Zander and his two best friends: his dog Buddha and the hat that hides his receding hairline.

*Which, all you hard-core Cheap Trick fans know is from the band’s 1985 album STANDING ON THE EDGE.

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“Silver Shifter” By TSAR

I’m a sucker for catchy-pop songs.  What I really love is when a band sneaks up from nowhere and beans me on the head with an amazingly catchy song.  A really good song will implant itself in your brain–a truly great one will feel like it’s always been there. The first time I heard “Silver Shifter” by L.A. rockers TSAR I felt like it had always been with me. The band’s 2000 self-titled album is chock-full of diabolically awesome ear-worms.  It’s the sort of record that plays in your head while you’re trying to go to sleep.  It’s no small feat to write a good song, especially one that feels so fresh but at the same time so familiar.  TSAR’s sound is reminiscent of Cheap Trick, but with a touch more punk and glam.

TSAR, these guys seem legit.

“Silver Shifter” opens with a ringing phone and quick “hello” before exploding into pop bliss.  The lyrics are twisty and rhyme in all the right places.  There’s a sweet guitar solo and cheery hand-claps, what more could you ask for in a great song?  On the surface the song seems to be about a car, but I’m 99.999% sure that the is about a nasty-injectable drug:

Seven is never enough 
Slide her into the stuff 
Slow gun and a colorful flag 
Shift her into the swag 
Silver shifter, shift it out

The slow gun is the plunger of a syringe and the “colorful flag” is a bit of blood, right?

Softer down for the counts 
Love comes in every ounce 
Silver is up for appeal 
Shifter is making me real

Blissed-out junkie poetry with a shimmering guitar hook–that’s a potent combination.  In days past, men would write very intricate poems about God or a sunset, today’s rockstars expend just as much mental energy writing about banned substances. Why are all the best songs about drugs?  Maybe it’s because like God or a sunset, drugs are a powerful artistic muse.  I guess there would be more awesome songs about D.A.R.E. posters if D.A.R.E. posters expanded the consciousness or shaded the gray world a brillant new-hue.

Regardless, “Silver Shifter” is awesome song on an awesome record. I highly recommend both TSAR albums.

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New podcast is Available!

EDIT: Sorry for the horrible audio quality.  I think I need to drink less when I do these shows…

There’s a new episode of the Rock ‘n Roll Jolly Roger available for your listening pleasure.  I bitch about Valentines Day, play some new music, and offer…well you’ll have to listen to find out.

Go to iTunes and search “Rock n Roll Jolly Roger” to download.

Click here to stream/listen.

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