Tag Archives: Wolfgang is fucking Fat and not part of Van Halen no matter what his daddy says

Van Halen Announce 2015 North American Tour–They’re Playing Where You Live

I’ve been out of it lately and I’ve been meaning to do some writing…well today Van Halen announced a pretty big North American tour and shook me from my malaise. I missed the band the last time they reunited and toured–so this news has me pretty stoked. Sure, Michael Anthony is still out of the band and he-who-shall-not-named is still playing bass (and fat), but this announcement has me reaching for my Visa card.

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Sure, I’m still trying to recover financially from buying a pair of Replacements tickets, but this is Van Halen. Van fucking Halen. One of THE last truly great, truly massive rock bands. I’m sure this won’t be their last tour, but this will probably be the last chance I’ll ever get to see them.

And look at all the chances Van Halen is giving me (and you) to see them this summer:

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And the dates keeps going! Too many dates for one screen grab!!!

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That’s pretty much every American city worth a damn, and then some. Hell, the band is even playing my hometown of Kansas City, Missouri and they only have one horse! Since moving to Denver a year ago, I’ve yearned for seeing a concert at Red Rocks (Morrison, Colorado) and this might be my chance to finally pull the trigger and visit that epic outdoor venue. But who will accompany me? Mrs. Defending Axl Rose ain’t the biggest Van Halen fan, and these tickets are gonna be expensive. I hate dragging her to stuff, but I really hate dragging her to concerts that cost $100 a pop. My fantasy list of people I’d like to see this show with would be: my Dad, Robin Renee, Gandhi, and maybe my 8th Grade Science lab partner who liked to scribble “Van Halen” on his trapper keeper (sorry dude, I have forgotten your name).

Alas, I’m broke as hell but I’m gonna fill out a home equity loan application tomorrow so I can buy tickets for this tour. I’ll keep you all posted. In the meantime, how about a little mood music?

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I Made Jack White’s Guacamole Because…Rock ‘n Roll!!!

When I first heard “Fell In Love With A Girl” way back in 2002, I had no idea that people would still be talking about Jack White in 2015. I liked the song well enough, but I wrongly predicted that White’s career (and impact on the music industry) would be as lengthy as The White Stripes breakthrough hit. I was thoroughly puzzled by White initially. I remember seeing White creepily perform “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” on Saturday Night Live and writing The White Stripes off completely. Look, we at Defending Axl Rose can’t all be right 100% of the time. Sometimes things slip by me. And don’t forget, when The White Stripes came on the scene there was a lot of strange rumors about Meg being Jack’s wife-sister…so you can’t blame me for dismissing them.

I quickly corrected my view of The White Stripes when the band released ELEPHANT in 2003. When  Mojo magazine declared it the band’s “British” album, I quickly went out and bought it on CD and red-and-white colored vinyl. That’s right, I dropped $45 on the album before I’d even heard “Seven Nation Army.” ELEPHANT was rousing, epic rock album that blew me away and immediately made me a fan and follower of White. I still think he’s weird (sometimes a little too much for his own good), but he’s the closest thing my generation has to a true rock god.

Oh my God, do a Google image search for "Jack White Guac."

Oh my God, stop reading and go do a Google image search for “Jack White Guac.” Seriously.

I’m still heartbroken that The White Stripes are no more, if you want to know the truth. I like The Raconteurs and love The Dead Weather, but I miss those glory days of red-and-white albums. White’s solo records haven’t really done much for me, but to tell the truth I’ve never really given them much of listen. White has given me so much over the years, I really owe it to him to sit down someday and study both BLUNDERBUSS and LAZARETTO in depth before writing them completely off.

Anyway, like the rest of you, I have been breathlessly following Guacamole-Gate, the dip-themed scandal that has embroiled Jack White these past few weeks. For those of you living under a rock, here are the basics: Jack White played a concert at the University of Oklahoma earlier this month. The school’s newspaper used the Freedom of Information Act to acquire the contracts involved with the concert. These documents were published in the school paper and revealed the amount of money the school paid to have White perform, as well as White’s tour rider. While I was a bit surprised it only cost the school $80,000 to have Jack White perform, the press (small and large) have jumped on the tour rider which included a recipe for Jack’s guacamole.

Ah, tour riders. Do these things ever not make an artist look crazier than a bag of cats? The purpose of tour riders is to ensure that bands and their staff are comfortable while setting up and waiting to perform  a gig. Let’s face it: being a traveling musician is not fun and glamorous. Can you imagine sharing one bathroom with everyone in Metallica? Or splitting a meal with Wolfgang Van Halen*?  Then there’s the small army needed to setup and tear down even the most modest of stages. Tour riders ensure that these hardworking folks get all the brown M&M’s they so desperately need.

Speaking of brown M&M’s, the most famous rider in all of rock history is the Van Halen rider that specified that the band have a large dish of only the brown colored candies. This demand made the band  poster children for rock excess, but over the years Eddie Van Halen has claimed that his odd request was made out of safety! According to Eddie, the band used this request to judge how compliant venues were with all of their requests. If the brown M&M’s weren’t done right, the band reasoned, then maybe the super dangerous lighting rigs weren’t done correctly either. I hate to side with Eddie (because agreeing with him stokes his ego) but the dude has a point.

Jack White’s rider requested that the venue make a bowl of homemade guacamole and included details instructions on how to make it. These instructions are Van Halen-specific, going so far as to tell venues what sort of knife to use on the avocados (a butter knife, presumably to avoid smooshing the soft fruit). The recipe even includes instructs venues to use the avocado pits and lime juice to prevent the guacamole from browning.

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“Subject to budget and advance” naturally…

When the rider hit the interWebz, the music world was shaken to the core. So much ink was spilled over this non-story that earlier this week, Jack White issued a long, semi-rambling statement about this rider. Essentially, he was sick of being asked about the whole affair and chastised the student reports for making something out of nothing. White’s management group issued a statement saying that White and their other artists would be boycotting the University of Oklahoma because of this incident. Of course, White had nothing to do with that particular decision. He even went so far as to say that he’d forgiven the student reporters and holds no ill will towards Oklahoma.

For such a strange guy, White’s response to the so-called scandal was surprisingly down-to-earth. The only disappointing part of White’s statement, in my opinion, was the revelation that the guacamole recipe wasn’t actually Jack’s:

“Anything on the rider is for the band and the crew. This “guacamole recipe” is my hilarious tour managers inside joke with the local promoters, it’s his recipe, not mine. It’s just something to break up the boredom, seeing who can make it best. Though I wouldn’t know because I’ve never had it. I can’t even make kool aid let alone cook any real food enough to have a “recipe.” sorry, I don’t have that talent.”

Great. So first The White Stripes break up forever, and then I find out Jack White can’t even make the most basic of party dips. What’s next, Bono will never be able to play guitar again? I know I’ll never be a musical genius like Jack White, but if I realized that if I could make this guacamole then there would be one area where I’d have him beat! Thus, I decided to use the recipe to make his manager’s dip. I went to the store and acquired the ingredients necessary for this magical rock ‘n roll creation. Then I rolled up my sleeves, put on some White Stripes, and got to work.

When you follow the recipe, this what you end up with:

So how was it? Well, if you follow the directions to the letter, you end up with something less like a dip and more like avocado salad.

Sorry, Jack. That isn't how I like my guacamole.

Sorry, Jack. That isn’t how I like my guacamole.

I’ll be honest, I fully intended on following the recipe to the letter, but I couldn’t abide such hippy-dippy gauc. Also, I’m really lazy. It was so much easier to just shove everything into my food processor.So that’s what I did. The results, while not 100% Jack White approved, was still pretty stellar.

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The serrano peppers added just the right amount of heat. I love spicy foods and this dip didn’t let me down. I would like to add that if you plan on making this dip, be sure to have a hungry crew of guitar techs coming over–the recipe yielded a ton of guacamole.

Delicious!

Delicious!

 

*I bet you thought I’d gotten over making fun of Wolfgang. You thought wrong.

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My Top 10 Albums of 2012

Why have end of year lists have grown in popularity over the past 10 years? What does it say about us as a species that we clamor for and around arbitrary lists created by people we don’t know? My own personal theory is that the popularity of end of year lists serves two functions:

1. Validation. Obviously we like having someone tell us that our opinions are the right ones, and seeing our favorite things on someone else’s end of year list does that. It’s comforting to know that we agree with others but it’s even more comforting when that other is a critic of stature like David Wild or Roger Ebert.

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2. Facilitating our laziness. Why go out into the world looking for the best music, books, films, or art when someone in a black turtleneck can do all the heavy lifting for us? End of year lists distill a year’s worth of media into an easy to consume morsel. I’ve met people who base all their film watching on top critics end of year lists.

I’m guilty of both: I like looking at end of year lists to see my own personal tastes validated AND I like to use them to discover things I was too lazy to find on my own. I don’t think there’s anything evil or wrong about end of year lists, but they do tend to get out of hand this time of year. I think reading end of year lists are an okay use of your time…but I think making one of your own is a far better way to kill a few hours.

Why? Well, I think a great end of year list functions as a kind of yearbook. When I sat down to write my Top 10 Albums of 2012 list I started to simply list all the albums that really knocked my socks off this year. But then I started to consider things like “Am I still listening to these albums?” and “Do I see myself still thinking about/revisiting these albums in future years?” That made things a little more difficult, which I rather liked (I always do fancy a challenge).

So once I had my albums that moved me (or whatever) and then removed the ones I wasn’t still listening to, I found I had a much shorter list. I took that list and compared it to my blog for the past 12 months, chiefly–how many of these albums did I get around to writing about? What did I say? In the case of one album in particular, I found that I wrote about it A LOT. I factored that in when arranging my list from #10 to #1.

What was the most difficult part of making this list? Figuring out what actually came out in 2012 and what came out in 2011 that I only discovered this year. There were a TON of really great records that came out at the end of last year that I sadly only discovered this year—meaning they could not appear on my list. The record I most wanted to put on my list was Metronomy’s THE ENGLISH RIVIERA. That was probably the album I enjoyed the most this summer, but wouldn’t ya know it? It came out last year. I ran into a lot of that while making this list.

Please read this list, compare it to your own personal tastes (feel slightly validated) and then use it to lazily fill-in the parts of 2012 you overlooked or missed. Once you’ve done all that, jot down your own best of 2012 list, I think you’ll find it’s an interesting mental exercise and a fantastic way to reevaluated the music you’ve heard this year. Maybe even slip me copy of your list in the comments section below (I won’t judge).

With all that in mind, I present my Top 10 Albums of 2012:

10. HARMONICRAFT by Torche. Arguably the stupidest genre name of all-time is sludge metal. I don’t even know what that means. Torche’s album HARMONICRAFT is supposed to be sludge metal, but to me it just sounds like awesomely melodic hard rock. “Roaming” and “Kicking” are brilliant hard-rockers that sound like Jane’s Addiction meets The Cult. The album is dark and has a rough edge while still being catchy and fun. If you’re like me, you’re always looking for a hard rock that isn’t super-stoopid or endless banshee screaming: HARMONICRAFT strikes a nice balance between hard rock and pop. The guitar work is great, and so is that Brony-filled rainbow wonderland on the front of the album.

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9. COBRA JUICY by Black Moth Super Rainbow. I’m not really into electronica, but every now and then an artist comes out that manages to combine the best of rock/pop and dance music. Experimental music is really hard to like and even hard to recommend, but Black Moth Super Rainbow really pull it off on COBRA JUICY. It’s a neon-rave-up that’s got rock soul. Songs like “Windshield Smasher” and “Hairspray Heart” are what the second Sleigh Bells album should have sounded like: aggressively noisy yet super-groovy. Worth noting, this one was waaay off my radar, but was pointed out to me by my super-cool friend over at TAKEN BY SOUND, which is a really cool indie-rock music blog.

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8. WRECKING BALL by Bruce Springsteen. I know, I’m just as surprised as you are that Bruce Springsteen is on this list. I was listening to Little Steven’s Underground Garage and Little Steven (who is more than a little biased, being in the E-Street Band) talked up the record and played “Easy Money.” Before I could dismiss WRECKING BALL outright, I heard “Easy Money” and became instantly hooked. The whole album has a very electric-folk/Old-Timey feel to it. WRECKING BALL is Springsteen’s recession album, which while not much fun, does provide an excellent palette for a rough and tumble artist like The Boss. “We Take Care of Our Own” and “Death To My Hometown” are great, hardscrabble songs that could work for The Great Depression or the late 2010’s. Through it all, Springsteen remains a symbol of art nourishing us through the hardest of times. These are the times when a bard of his stature is most desperately needed. He didn’t disappoint.

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7. SLOW DAZE by Blonde Summer. Technically these 5 songs are an EP and not an LP, but after listening to SLOW DAZE on virtual infinite repeat this summer: I’m promoting it to full LP status. Blonde Summer’s amazingly breezy, super-fun album reminded me what it feels like to be young and just enjoying the warmth of summer: and that was just the title track. The rest of SLOW DAZE is top-notch indie-rock that’s fun (“Robots on Command”) and heartfelt (“Walking in Space”). Minimal and echo-y, SLOW DAZE is like a short romp with an incredible lover—it doesn’t last very long, but the warm glow it gives you lasts and lasts. Hell, I’m still tingling from the noise-rock of “December,” and it’s actually December now. SLOW DAZE owned my summer and has made me super-eager to see what these guys do next. But for now, we’ll always have this summer.

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6. LONERISM by Tame Impala. Pound for pound, LONERISM has more cosmic-freak-out-otherness than any other album on this list. If you’ve ever wanted to get high without drugs, grab a pair of headphones and take this album into a dark room. Close your eyes and prepare to go on adventure. Imagine Oasis and The Flaming Lips doing a shit ton of LSD and then merging into one band: that’s LONERISM. “Endors Toi” and “Elephant” shatter your mind and then blow away the pieces. I really liked BEARDS, WIVES, DENIM by Pond, which is essentially Tame Impala, but overall I think LONERISM is the stronger, more accessible record. But don’t take my word for it: go sit in the dark tonight with this album.

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5. CLASS CLOWN SPOTS A UFO by Guided By Voices. One of my all-time favorite bands came back, and they came back in a big way this year. Not only did the original GBV line up return to tour, they released not one…not two…but three incredible records. When was the last time a band came back after disbanding and put out ONE good album? Exactly. Robert Pollard is a rock ‘n roll Jesus (sorry Kid Rock). Picking which of the three albums to put on this list was hard, but also kinda easy: of all their 2012 records, this is the one I rock out to the most. The title track is probably the greatest GBV “single” in a decade. “Keep It In Motion” and “Forever Until It Breaks” are icing on the cake. All GBV albums have short, micro-songs that many people dismiss, but CLASS CLOWN SPOTS A UFO has the best short Pollard nuggets I’ve heard in a long time (“Roll of the Dice, Kick in the Head”). And don’t get me started on the awesome, Who-like “Billy Wire.” Okay, I’ll get started on it: “Billy Wire” fucking rocks my socks and makes me feel like I’m a badass Mod seeing a super young/virile Who tear up a small English nighclub. Long live GBV.

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4. MAJOR by Fang Island. Fang Island does what Torche does in that, they offer up heavy riffs with strong melodies. The difference is that Fang Island is more indie rock than mosh pit. “Sisterly” is so hard-charging but at the same time sweet. I don’t mean “Dude that’s sweet,” I mean little kitten hanging on a clothesline sweet. Fang Island are so cool they don’t care what you think of their earnestness. These guys are serious musicians, too. Even if you don’t usually go for instrumental rock, you’ll dig their instrumental “Dooney Rock.” It’s an interesting, tasteful, non-wankfest that will win over even the most jaded music fan. Fang Island is equally heavy and gentle; it’s hard indie rock for sensitive hearts.

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3. LOVE THIS GIANT by David Byrne & St. Vincent. Who knew that teaming up the dude from Talking Heads and that weird indie-chick St. Vincent would yield such a good harvest? The bombastic lead track “Who” is real stunner, but it’s the one-two-punch of two unlikely freaks getting together and letting their freak flags fly that elevates LOVE THIS GIANT beyond “Who.” This is Byrne’s strongest post-Talking Heads work, hands down. It wasn’t that I’d written him off so much as I just didn’t bother to really think too much about David Byrne at all. LOVE THIS GIANT re-establishes Byrne as a relevant artist with a lot more to say. I wasn’t super familiar with St. Vincent prior to LOVE THIS GIANT, but I’m learning. That she’s half his age and still manages to hold her own in the presence of such a legend is no small feat. I still get chills every time I hear “Optimist.” So, in summary: the triumphant return of one of rocks most unlikely superstars plus a rising indie-songstress plus crazy horns equals LOVE THIS GIANT. It’s a record that you put on and feel refreshed, challenged, and puzzled by.

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2. A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH by Van Halen. Nobody thought that a new Van Halen album was going to be a dismal failure more than me. Go back and check the endless jaded, negative, anti-Wolfgang posts. I’m a big man, I can admit when I’m wrong. Sure, “Tattoo” fucking sucks. It’s the worst song on the album and it’s slightly embarrassing…but everything else on A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH works. Maybe the songs are recycled from decades long since past, but so what? They were still re-worked and recorded by the Van Halen of today, and they don’t disappoint. It’s like it’s 1984 all over again: big choruses, crazy solos, thumpin’ drums, super-bravdo, etc. Van Halen don’t reinvent the wheel so much as get it rolling again, and thank God…because rock was starting to get so dismally boring. “Blood and Fire” recalls the pure adrenaline of “Panama.” “You and Your Blues” is like an update of “Unchained.” Van Halen shouldn’t work in 2012, but somehow they do. My favorite track, the one that gets the most play at the gym is the stupidest: the frivolous “Stay Frosty.” Why does “Stay Frosty” continue to get played? Probably because it’s a straight up rocker that’s fun and funny. While I was busy being jaded, Van Halen was busy partying. At a certain point, it’s easier to just give-in and love them. So you win guys, A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH rules.

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1. PSYCHEDELIC PILL by Neil Young & Crazy Horse. I am completely and utterly in awe of this album. Long, meandering, and epic, PSYCHEDELIC PILL was the one album this year that could have been released in 1968 or 1970 not no one would have blinked. Not because it sounds like it’s from that period in time, PSYCHEDELIC PILL is truly a record out of time: intensely personal and yet also very distant and spacy. This is a folk record. This is a jam-band record. This is a singer-songwriter album created by a full band. “Walk Like A Giant” is the work of an incredibly powerful wizard, hurling lightening bolts of rock. I had no idea Neil Young still had it in him to create such a potent work of pure genius. This doesn’t even sound like a comeback it sounds like he never left. Those who scoff at the albums longer cuts, of which there are a few, are missing the point. Like I said in my original review: “the album opens with “Drifting Back,” a 27 minute-long song that’s acts as a kind of sonic air lock, decompressing the listener into the album’s atmosphere. Or perhaps a better metaphor would be that’s a time machine. I like that better because PSYCHEDELIC PILL sounds like lost 1970’s record, with the lengthy “Drifting Back” serving as a trippy time tunnel to the past.” The free flowing extended jams are the destination, not the journey. PSYCHEDELIC PILL is an intricate album that I predict will endure as a kind of sonic evergreen, which will be studied and appreciated for decades to come. Do yourself a favor and check out this once-in-a-generation masterpiece.

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From the “Nobody-Could-Have-Seen-This-Coming-File”: VAH HALEN POSTPONE 31 SHOWS

Well imagine that, Van Halen are having a bit of turmoil!  Rolling Stone reported late this week that the classic rockers are “postponing” 31 shows. No one would say why, but a “source” close to the band said that “they hate each other” and that they can’t stop fighting.  Apparently they can’t even stop fighting to count all that money.  The band is currently still performing, but band reps let everyone know that after their June 26th show in New Orleans, the band isn’t going to play anymore shows.  But will the fans who bought tickets get to see the band?  Or see their money back? No one is talking in either the Van Halen-camp or the Live Natio-camp (Live Nation being the evil Corporate overlords).

Quick! Someone explain to Van Halen how capitalism works: You have a product, we pay for it…then you give it to us.

I, for one, am full of regret that I missed Van Halen when they recently rolled through St. Louis (I was at another concert) because I only heard awesome things.  Still, are we really surprised that Van Halen aren’t getting along and might back out of a mega-comeback tour?  The band is a potent concoction of “we hate each other.”  Podcaster Adam Carolla likes to ask Rolling Stone writer David Wild about the untold millions dunder-headed rockers leave “on the table” just because they can’t sack-up and get along.  I have no idea how much money Van Halen stands to lose if they don’t play these 31 remaining shows, but I’m sure it’s a phenomenal amount.  The Rolling Stone article quotes a promoter as saying that the shows have been selling really well, so the notion that the band is pulling out of the concerts because they aren’t selling enough tickets isn’t the case.

Anyway, if you have tickets for any of the following shows, you might want to start making other plans:

July 7: Uncasville, Ct., Mohegan Sun Arena
July 9: Hampton, Va., Hampton Coliseum
July 11: Philadelphia, Pa., Wells Fargo Center
July 13: East Rutherford, N.J., Izod Center
July 15: Baltimore, Md., 1st Mariner Arena
July 17: Rochester N.Y., Blue Cross Arena
July 19: Detroit, Mich., Joe Louis Arena
July 21: London, Ontario, John Labatt Centre
July 24: Toledo, Ohio, Huntington Center
July 26: Grand Rapids, Mich., Van Andel Arena
July 28: Cleveland, Ohio, Quicken Loans Arena
July 31: Fort Wayne, Ind., Allen County Memorial Coliseum
August 2: Columbus, Ohio, Schottenstein Center
August 4: Knoxville, Tenn., Thompson-Boiling Arena
August 6: Memphis, Tenn., FedEx Forum
August 8: Birmingham, Ala., BJCC Arena
August 10: Greenville, S.C., BI-LO Center
August 12: Cincinnati, Ohio, US Bank Arena
August 21: Spokane, Wash., Spokane Arena
August 23: Portland, Ore., Rose Garden
August 25: Sacramento, Calif.,Power Balance Pavilion
August 28: Fresno, Calif., Save Mart Center
August 30: Reno, Nev., Reno Events Center
September 4: Salt Lake City, Utah — EnergySolutions Arena
September 8: Albuquerque, N.M., Tingley Coliseum
September 11: El Paso, Texas, Don Haskins Center
September 13: Austin, Texas, Frank Erwin Center
September 15: Oklahoma City, Okla., Chesapeake Energy Arena
September 17: Wichita, Kan. – Intrust Bank Arena (WFT, I’m from that part of the world and I’ve never heard of this venue)
September 21: Moline, Ill., Iwireless Center
September 25: Milwaukee, Wis., Bradley Center

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UPDATE: I forgot to bash Wolfgang Van Halen in this post, for that I truly apologize.  In order to correct this oversight, let me just say that this is most likely all Wolfgang’s fault.  The band postponed these shows because Wolfgang is fat. 

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A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH

It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong:  I have been wrong.  I thought this new Van Halen album was going to be another run-of-the-mill, Dinosaurs of Rock Ca$h grab.  I thought Van Halen were leveraging the last bit of goodwill the band had in order to pay for second (or third, or fourth) wives and grand babies (!).  In my defense, the band’s choice of “Tattoo” as the lead single was pretty bonehead (unless you think putting your worst foot-first is a good idea).

How's this for a different kind of truth: this band's new album isn't a horrendous mistake.

So I downloaded A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH on Friday, mostly because I have deep psychological problems/I hate myself.  To my shock, once you get past the floating turd that is “Tattoo,” the album is pretty damn good.  A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH is not so different from classic, late 1970s-era Van Halen.  The reason for this is because all these songs were written 30+ years ago by the band.  Yes, the “new” Van Halen album is full of cast-offs and throw aways (the B-sides, “b-sides” if you will) and while that might sound like a bad thing, it turns out it’s not.

Think about it terms of money: back in the day the young, kickass Van Halen wrote some songs and put them into a rock ‘n roll savings account.  You know, for when they were older and wanted to retire.  This “song savings plan” has paid Van Halen Corp. huge dividends in form of modern songs with a classic feel.  

But enough bullshit, let’s talk about the songs.

So like I said, the boys put their worst foot-forward with “Tattoo.”  It’s not only the lead single, but it’s also the first track of the record.  I’m not sure who it is in the Van Halen camp that has the massive hardon for this song, but I’m pretty sure it’s that fat-fuck Wolfgang.  Just kidding, I know Wolfgang’s opinons don’t matter (except to this daddy), I’m sure the whole organization thinks “Tattoo” is a “hip” modern-taken on Van Halen. But it sucks.

The rest of the album, however, is solid as a rock. The second track, “She’s A Woman” is, for me, the album’s true opener.  The lyrics are a bit much, with David Lee Roth howling about how normal he is….you know, he drives a Chevy and…lives in his car (?).  While I’m usually annoyed when millionaires wail about how blue collar they are, I decided to not bitch because the guitar work on this song is phenomenal.  In fact, Eddie Van Halen is on fire the whole record.  It’s pretty awesome to see that the dude can still shred.  And beyond that,  the playing isn’t contrived or robotic–nor is it a parody of his younger-self.  Diamond Dave’s voice is lower and rougher, but Eddie’s guitar playing is exactly as awesome as it was back in the day.

“You and Your Blues” should have been the first single, in my opinion.  It’s more understated than the dunderheaded “Tattoo,” but that’s why I like it.  The song has a great, chuggy-sounding guitar tone and a really awesome Rolling Stones reference in the lyrical hook.

My favorite track on A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH is “Blood and Fire.”  This was, you might recall, one of the tracks the band released partially leading up to the album’s release. It’s a great song and the lyrics fit an older, more mature Van Halen.  The band has “come through blood and fire” so to speak and the fact that they’re still standing should be a source of pride for them.  The car/racing metaphors are classic Van Halen and reminded me of “Panama.”  This is definitely one that they’re going to be playing live on the new tour.

Other standouts on the album include  the super-heavy “As Is” and the cheeky-as-hell “Stay Frosty.”  The latter being a spiritual sequel to “Ice Cream Man” off of Van Halen’s first record.  It’s worth noting that “Stay Frosty” with it’s acoustic guiar opening, is probably the only track to not come kicking and screaming out of the gate.  This is a hard-charing Van Halen record (which is probably why the album art is an old train, get it?  Old train).

Are there problems other than “Tattoo”? Of course.  David Lee Roth’s voice is rougher and his “raps” aren’t as funny as they used to be. There’s a particularly embarrassing one in the middle of “The Trouble With Never.”  The songs themselves are pretty good, but let’s face it–nothing on A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH is going to become a classic Van Halen song.  They aren’t going to play “Outta Space” or “Big River” at a ballgame.  These are leftover tracks and the only reason we’re accepting them is because we’ve lowered our collective expectations for Van Halen.

On the other hand, this album does not tarnish the Van Halen brand in any way.  I can crank it up in the summer time and not be embarrassed when I hit a stop light, which is nice. I think all parties involved have lucked out.  Having a backlog of songs to pull from has probably spared us all from a truly awful, gut-wrenching experience.  Our heroes didn’t fall, and for me that’s good enough. 

A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH gets a “B.”

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Van Halen Announces 2012 Tour Dates, I Wank Dismissively

Well it looks like another Van Halen tour is really going to happen.  You can check out the complete list of dates over at the band’s website, but if you live in the continental United States Van Halen is playing in a city near you.  I’m sure the tickets will be super-pricy and I’m sure a majority of the dates will sell out.  I’m also sure that everyone is going to get up and go to the bathroom during “Tattoo” and the other two or three new songs they play.  I guess that’s just the way of the world.

Speaking of “Tattoo”  I have some rather disturbing news to report.  I’m afraid that all this week I’ve had the song running through my head. I haven’t really been humming or singing it per say…I just keep thinking about it.  Sort of like the musical equivalent of tonguing one’s canker sore.  It hurts me and every time I think about it I’m shocked and how much it hurts.  Not that I’m saying the song is like a canker sore (it’s worse, canker sores go away eventually, this piece of shit song is going to last until the end of time).

I really wish I’d been able to see Van Halen back in their heyday, but I’m going to be suckered by another “Dinosaurs of Rock” tour.  The last one that I saw, AC/DC was really fucking good.  In fact, AC/DC was better than they deserve to be considering. But the band I saw before that was The Police reunion, and let me tell you, that was downright disgusting.  I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead.  I guess that’s the problem with making the kind of loud, in-your-face, youthful music like Van Halen used to make: it’s pathetic when old dudes try to pull it off.  Besides, I’m not getting any younger myself and arena-rock shows just aren’t my bag anymore. Better leave those to the kids…

There's nothing wrong with being a fat kid...just don't be in Van Halen.

*SHUDDER*

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New Van Halen Song SUX

Oh, boy. I don’t even know where to begin with this one…

A few years ago I found myself inexplicably drawn back into Van Halen.  Not the crappy “Van Hagar” albums, mind you, just the really awesome ones the original line-up did.  Then the much-ballyhooed “reunion” tour happened…yikes. The less said about that cluster-fuck/money grab the better.

That fat kid on the right is supposed to be the bassist...

Then things cooled on the Van Halen website and all was as it should be in the world. Then yesterday I was dicking around on iTunes and I saw that there was a “new” Van Halen song along with a new album available for pre-order.  Yes, that’s right kids…the tour has now spawned a new album, A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH which comes out February 7.  With great reluctance, I hit the “preview” button on the album’s lead single, “Tattoo.”  As I waited for the clip to load, I thought:  “This doesn’t have to be fantastic, just don’t be embarrassing…”

Well embarrassing would be a step-up from this piece of garbage. 

To say that this is a shitty song is an understatement.  It’s the worst fucking thing I’ve heard all year* and I feel both sad and angry at Van Halen.  I don’t understand why these Dinosaurs of Rock don’t just fade off into the sunset like they’re supposed to.  If, after 20+ years of silence you want to get together and make music that’s fine–but don’t hire your fat son to play bass AND DON’T CALL IT VAN HALEN!  Anyway, the song, “Tattoo” is basically just David Lee Roth singing “Tattoo, tattoo, tattoo…sexy dragon tattoo…I’m in love with you” over and over and over and over and over again.  There is  generic guitar and there are drums (hooray?).  It’s so generic and bland that it’s hard to even make fun of it (except for Lee Roth’s lame-ass vocals, which are pretty damn lame).

This track is really bumming me out.

What’s worse, according to Sammy Hagar (ha!) this “new” Van Halen album is just a bunch of old songs the band’s had for years.  Now I’m a Van Halen fan, but I don’t pretend to be a super-mega-hardcore fan that can tell that this new song “Tattoo” is just a reworking of a never-recorded, but often-played song from the 1970s called “Down In Flames.”  But apparently the Red Rocker’s claims that the rest of Van Halen are about to drop an album of Van Halen-leftovers appears to be true (you can read all about it over at MTV).  Why come out of record-making retirement just to release a bunch of warmed-over rejects? I mean, it’s not like they haven’t had enough TIME to write BRAND NEW music. The fact that this song has been around (in some form) for longer than I’ve been alive makes me even sadder. I mean, you can’t polish a turd…no matter how long and hard you try.  I think Van Halen knew this song sucked, which is why they’re releasing it in 2012 as opposed to 1984 when people still cared.

So to recap, “Tattoo” is just another nail in the Van Halen coffin as far as I’m concerned. Just when we all though nothing could be as bad as fucking Wolfgang…this had to happen.  The only silver-linning that I can see is that 99.999% of people will not actually hear about this. So there is that…I still love classic Van Halen, but this ain’t it.

I’m going to encourage you to NOT watch this video, as it is fucking terrible.

 
*To be fair, the year just started.

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