Ahhh, it’s that time of the year again. The end of 2012 is upon us. We’ve survived the prophesied apocalypse and now we can look forward to the dawn of 2013. However, before we can move ahead and discuss all of the great rock music that the New Year has in store, we must take a moment to reflect on all the brilliance that was delivered over the last twelve months. So, I am here to do my part. Below are my favorite albums from 2012. I can only hope that 2013 is just as rewarding.
#10 – Kill Devil Hill: Kill Devil Hill
There are few things more enjoyable than being blasted in the ears by the opening track of a brilliant hard rock record. With Vinny Appice and Rex Brown at the helm, you just know that good things are waiting. And good things are exactly what Kill Devil Hill presented. Loud, pure unadulterated, hard rock music delivered with a vengeance. This is doom and gloom meets modern rock minus all of the filler. Kill Devil Hill makes you want to rock out in your bedroom (or wherever you like to rock out) for hours on end. Once the album is over, it’s fun to hit repeat and let it play again.
You can read my full review of Kill Devil Hill here: http://hardrockhideout.com/2012/06/22/kill-devil-hill-st-2012
Album Highlights: “War Machine,” “Old Man”
#9 – Danko Jones: Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue
Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue made me wish I had paid attention to Danko Jones sooner. This is an album that comes equipped with a blues/rock sound full of sexual vibe, hard rocking music, and a whole lot of fun. From odes to the beautiful legs on women, to the joy of waking up to another day, Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue comes stocked with uplifting songs that make feet move and faces smile. This is an album that forces the listener to feel happy by the time it is over. This record is a great reminder that music doesn’t always have to be deep and meaningful with insightful thought put into every word that is sung. Sometimes music is just meant to be fun, and that is what Danko Jones captured on Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue — a whole lot of fun!
You can read my full review of Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue here: http://hardrockhideout.com/2012/10/16/danko-jones-rock-and-roll-is-black-and-blue-2012
Album Highlights: “Legs,” “Always Away”
#8 – The Veer Union: Divide The Blackened Sky
Still relatively new to the music scene, The Veer Union delivered a gem this year with Divide The Blackened Sky, a hard hitting, highly enjoyable, modern rock record. The Veer Union have captured the modern rock sound and delivered it flawlessly on their sophomore effort. Divide The Blackened Sky is rife with dark and gritty songs that touch on themes of pain, retribution, and ultimately, hope. The Veer Union did not shy away from the challenge of putting out a heavy, dark, hard rocking record. If you’re looking for some enjoyable modern rock to add to your collection, pick up a copy of Divide The Blackened Sky.
You can read my full review of Divide The Blackened Sky here: http://hardrockhideout.com/2012/04/16/the-veer-union-divide-the-blackened-sky-2012
Album Highlights: “Borderline,” “Inside Our Scars”
#7 – Bullet: Full Pull
Swedish Metal is great. When Swedish Metal is performed by Bullet, it’s even greater! Full Pull is the latest record from this band and it is grand in every sense. Exceptional guitars, heavy drums, and vocals sung by a voice that feels it is erupting from the soul of the Earth, all collide to make Full Pull an amazing record worthy of seeking out. If you haven’t checked out Bullet yet, Full Pull is a great record to introduce yourself to the band and their music. Part AC/DC, part Jackyl, Bullet is all great. If you like your rock loud and proud, you are going to love Full Pull.
You can read my full review of Full Pull here: http://hardrockhideout.com/2012/12/18/bullet-full-pull-2012
Album Highlights: “Full Pull,” “High On the Hog”
#6 – Charm City Devils: Sins
One of the best musical surprises of the year was Charm City Devils’ Sins. I had not paid much attention to this band prior to the release of this album, and that was probably a mistake on my part. Sins is a hard rocking, tempo driven, fun record to listen to. Fun is the most important word in that equation. Sins is just that — fun. If you’re a fan of old school hair metal or hard rock music that makes you want to sing along while stuck in traffic, Sins is the album for you. Perfectly balanced with hard rock anthems, loving ballads, and songs that strippers will be dancing on stage to for years to come, Sins is a terrific album.
You can read Rob’s full review of Sins here: http://hardrockhideout.com/2012/05/02/charm-city-devils-sins-2012
Album Highlights: “Devil Is A Woman,” “Walk Away”
#5 – Shinedown: Amaryllis
Man, these guys just keep getting better and better with every release. With their first release, Leave A Whisper, Shinedown took the music world by storm with massive hits and potential. Their last album, Sound Of Madness, was a phenomenal record that really made me a fan of the band. When the follow up was released earlier this year, I was skeptical that it was going to be as good as The Sound Of Madness. Fortunately for fans, it turned out to be even better. Amaryllis is a hard rocking album that is a pure joy to listen to. From the opening notes of “Adrenaline” to the closing moments of “Through The Ghost,” Amaryllis is a fun ride of rock and roll.
You can read my full review of Amaryllis here: http://hardrockhideout.com/2012/04/06/shinedown-amaryllis-2012
Album Highlights: “Amaryllis,” “Bully”
#4 – Van Halen: A Different Kind Of Truth
With the return of David Lee Roth to a Van Halen album of all original material fans rejoiced, and rightfully so. This was a true gift given to Van Halen fans that waited years for the return of Diamond Dave. And while their tour may have crashed and burned, and the absence of Michael Anthony is noticeable, that still doesn’t diminish the brilliance of A Different Kind Of Truth. This is Van Halen the way they were meant to be and A Different Kind Of Truth is a great follow up to 1984 even if it came many years later than fans had hoped. Packed with plenty of Dave scat, wicked solos by the great Edward Van Halen, and a song style that could only be pulled off by this band, A Different Kind Of Truth is one of the greatest records 2012 had to offer.
You can read Rob’s full review of A Different Kind Of Truth here: http://hardrockhideout.com/2012/02/05/van-halen-a-different-kind-of-truth-2012
Album Highlights: “Tattoo,” “Big River”
#3 – Bruce Springsteen: Wrecking Ball
Okay, bring on the haters. Regardless of what a lot of people may think, I personally find Springsteen to be hard rock. He has all of the elements a hard rock band needs (heavy guitars, drums, solos, and an Us against Them mentality), so to me he’s hard rock. And since I find Springsteen to be hard rock, I get to put his latest album in my top 10. Wrecking Ball has done nothing but get better over the course of this year. While a lot of albums that are released in the early spring are long forgotten, Bruce’s magnificent Wrecking Ball is not. The record holds up well many months later and is still the highlight of my playlist for 2012. There’s a reason that Springsteen is the Boss—he knows how to write great music. Packed with nothing but potential hits, Wrecking Ball is a satisfying record and one of the best Springsteen has ever released. If he keeps making records this great, I’ll keep buying them, along with millions of other fans.
You can read my full review of Wrecking Ball here: http://hardrockhideout.com/2012/03/07/bruce-springsteen-wrecking-ball-2012
Album Highlights: “Easy Money,” “Shackled And Drawn”
#2 – KISS: Monster
Kiss released an album of all new material, the follow up to the amazing Sonic Boom. What’s not to love? Haters be damned (you know the ones that call Eric and Tommy scabs), this is a phenomenal KISS record. Yes, it could challenge any of the classics for top 5 Kiss record. Yes, it is even better than Sonic Boom. Yes, Tommy and Eric sound terrific on this album. Look, we all love Ace and Peter and miss them very much, but they are out of the band and fans need to let them go. This is the new incarnation of KISS, and as far as I am concerned, they are incredible in their own right. Monster makes me hope that we get more new KISS music very soon. Psycho Circus never made me feel that way. If you haven’t gotten your copy of Monster yet, well, what the heck are you waiting for?
You can read my full review on Monster here: http://hardrockhideout.com/2012/10/10/kiss-monster-2012
Album Highlights: “Freak,” “Long Way Down”
#1 – Dead Sara: Dead Sara
Let’s face it—when you listen to an album at least once a week since you received it, there is no way that it can’t be your favorite album of the year. Such is the case with Dead Sara. While I love Kiss’ Monster, Dead Sara beats it out. Simply put, I’ve never stopped listening to it. This album hit me hard from the first time I played it. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much because the record had been so hyped up by other bloggers, reviewers, and critics. Usually when an album gets that much hype it fails to produce the necessary results. Dead Sara, however, actually exceeded the hype. The last debut album that I thought was this good came from a band called Guns N Roses. Dead Sara has the opportunity to go down in history as one of the greatest rookie releases ever. Yes, the album is that fantastic. If you haven’t sought out Dead Sara, stop everything and order it online now. You owe it to yourself to start 2013 off with a bang!
You can read my full review of Dead Sara here: http://hardrockhideout.com/2012/05/11/dead-sara-st-2012
Album Highlights: “Whispers & Ashes,” “Test On My Patience”
In what could be his best release since Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Bruce Springsteen has returned with a magnificent album fueled by anger, poignant with insight, and offering a glimmer of hope for the future. That album is Wrecking Ball, and it is the first album Springsteen has recorded since the death of his dear friend, and founding E-Street Band member, Clarence (Big Man) Clemons.
While the last Springsteen album (2009’s Working On A Dream) was criticized as being too rushed, too polished, and too pop oriented, none of those comments can be regurgitated for this record. Wrecking Ball is the antithesis of Working On A Dream. Musically, the album is heavier. Lyrically, the album is angrier. Spiritually, the album is much more uplifting and inspiring. Wrecking Ball is a request to a nation; regain the fire that once burned bright in their belly.
If Working On A Dream was themed with hope, opportunity, and a chance for change, Wrecking Ball is a call to action for that change to happen now. The frustration and demand is felt in these songs written by a man mired in blue collar roots who is saddened by the current state of his America. The current situation has cheated us with empty promises and side mouth talking. The time to act upon those promises is now. It’s time for people to rebound and put in the hard work, as a group, not as individuals, required to take back the strength we all once commanded. There is hope in the future. The hope comes with a price though. We have to be willing to put in the sweat required today in order to receive a brighter tomorrow.
While not as patriotic as Born In The USA, Wrecking Ball speaks to the American public. The cynicism of modern day Bruce is immediately felt on opening track “We Take Care Of Our Own.” The lyrics cry out that we feel cheated. The promises of a better today have not arrived and need to. Springsteen sings that “the road of good intentions has gone dry as a bone,” letting us know that the time for talk is behind us and the time for immediate action is upon us. If we join together and take care of our own, we will be able to accomplish anything that we desire.
Calls of unity and group action (“We Take Care Of Our Own”), overcoming tragic loss and still moving forward (“This Depression”), taking the worst that comes and conquering (“Wrecking Ball”) and seeing hope in the future (“Land Of Hope And Dreams”) dominate this record. Springsteen has reached back to a style of writing reminiscent of his early, mid-70s career and composed music with a message and a meaning. The time to stand up and fight for what we believe in is now. There can be no tomorrow if we don’t take action today. The challenge is laid forth. We can overcome it and become greater than we ever imagined.
Recording this album also found Bruce Springsteen in the studio without his best friend and longtime band mate, Clarence Clemons. The trademark saxophone has been replaced by trumpets and horns, electronic drum tracking and plenty of fiddle. Songs like “Rocky Ground” and “This Depression” contain dual messages that not only center on the current state of our nation, but also describe the pain of moving forward after losing someone that has meant so much for so many years. How does a man move forward from that? Strength, determination, and remembering what the friendship stood for are some of the key ways.
Blending his 70s style blue collar rock with his more recent Irish folk flavor, and mixing in some good old fashioned classic guitar rock, Bruce Springsteen has struck gold with his latest release. There is something for everyone on Wrecking Ball. From ballads to blues, from guitar solos, to foot stomping folk songs, Wrecking Ball has it all. That is what makes it such a great treasure. After 40 years, Bruce Springsteen still knows how to rock and roll and Wrecking Ball is the current proof of his lasting musical genius.
Rating: Out of 10
- We Take Care Of Our Own
- Easy Money
- Shackled And Drawn
- Jack Of All Trades
- Death To My Hometown
- This Depression
- Wrecking Ball
- You’ve Got It
- Rocky Ground
- Land Of Hope And Dreams
- We Are Alive
It is not a major release week in the world of hard rock this week. Here are the new releases for March 6th.
Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
Xandria – Neverworld’s End
Oliver Dawson Saxon – Motorbiker
Rage – 21
The Erotics – Boulevard of Choking Screams (EP)
Have you ever seen Bruce Springsteen in concert? Have you ever experienced the way he connects with his fans during a live show? Have you ever witnessed the power, the promise, and the passion that is a Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band performance? If you haven’t had the pleasure of enjoying this for yourself, let me tell you, it is one of life’s greatest musical experiences.
Envision the showmanship of an Iron Maiden concert, mixed with the power of Kix, and the enjoyment of Kiss. A Bruce Springsteen concert is all of that and more, wrapped into a three-hour set of amazement. Springsteen has been doing this for years, and it’s what has endeared his fans to him as life-long believers in the power of rock and roll.
There are several elements of a Springsteen concert that make him worth the price of admission. As a fan of the Boss who has witnessed him in concert 15 times (and counting), I’ve logged those experiences over the years. The first notable element is the fact that there is no opening act. There is no need to sit through someone to “warm up” the crowd. Springsteen will do his own warming up, thank you very much. The second he takes the stage, the crowd is warm and ready to go, and Bruce is more than happy to lead the charge.
His performances are not for an early night (and I don’t mean because he will come on late like a certain Mr. Rose likes to do). The band takes the stage and remains fixed there, usually for the next 3 hours (sometimes more, occasionally a lot more). When was the last time your favorite band played for 3 hours?
Springsteen’s song selection is second to none. Unlike Kiss, Poison, or Van Halen, Bruce makes each concert a unique experience. There’s a reason that he can sell out ten nights in the same venue, and a large part of the reason is his song selection. Each night brings a different setlist. And the varying differences aren’t one or two songs, they are several. Sure, “Born To Run,” and choice selections from the current album are always going to be played, but after that, all bets are off.
Over the 15 concerts that I have attended, I was witness to 128 different songs. Of the 12 Kiss concerts I’ve seen, I was witness to 39 different songs. Springsteen mixes it up unlike any other performer. He knows that his fans love and want to hear any song in his repertoire and The Boss rewards his fans. Lately, he’s been known to grab sign requests from the crowd and play one of those songs on the spot. Even if it isn’t an E-Street Band song, the band will give it a shot, and almost always nail the performance. Who else has the gusto to pull off a move like that?
What’s most effective about a Springsteen concert is the way that he connects to his fans through the power of rock and roll. Springsteen (and the entire E-Street Band) give their best performance every night. They don’t have “off” nights. Prior to the start of a tour, the rehearsals are long and intense. Springsteen makes certain of that. A perfectionist to the bitter end, The Boss doesn’t want anything going wrong when it is time for the show to go live, even when he’s calling out an audible and changing the next song in the set on a whim. The E-Street Band is prepared and ready for it.
An amazing guitarist, an incredible storyteller, and a perfect showman, Bruce Springsteen is the epitome of what every rock musician should aspire to. He knows his fans and knows how to make them react. If you’re sitting on your ass at a Springsteen show, he’ll call you out for it. There’s no sitting during a rock concert, and Springsteen makes sure that everyone knows this. His passion for music and live performing are ever present and really shape the framework of his concerts. You will never see another artist like Bruce Springsteen. The rabid fans are rabid because Springsteen has spent a lifetime making believers out of them.
The E-Street Band are currently set to head out on a long tour this spring, spend the summer in Europe, and then most likely be back in the states for the fall. If you’ve never seen Bruce Springsteen in concert, this is your best chance. The older the band gets, the more uncertain his fans become of how much longer he will be able (or want) to tour. If you don’t have tickets for the spring leg, then you probably have t wait until the fall as most Springsteen concerts sell out in minutes. However, if you do get the opportunity to purchase tickets, take advantage of that opportunity. If you love hard rock, you are going to really love Bruce Springsteen in concert. The E-Street Band are one of those rare group of performers that can actually justify high ticket prices. They are a band that all hard rock bands should hold up as an inspiration.
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In a little bit of classic rock news, you can get a free download from Bruce Springsteen today only!
I must admit that I haven’t listened to the Boss in quite some time. Leave it to a free download to get me to check out Springsteen’s latest music.
For today only, you can download the new Bruce Springsteen tune, “Working On A Dream” free and legally from the Sony BMG/ Bruce Springsteen website.
Check it out!