Summer is here, and that means that my musical fare tends to turn to the melodic power pop of my youth. Slip on the iPod, get out in the hot sunshine and crank the tunes as loud as your ears can take it...ok, maybe not that loud. Since I'd like to be able to carry a conversation with my wife (or anybody, for that matter) after the age of 60, I've cut down on the volume ever sooo slightly, in hopes of retaining my hearing. Without further ado, here is some of the new(and old) music I've been listening to:
- Cheap Trick(1977) - The perfect power pop album. With tracks like "Oh, Candy", "Mandecello", the leering yet irresistible "Daddy Should Have Stayed In High School", and arguably the greatest driving song ever,"He's A Whore", this album is a masterpiece of hummable, shimmering pop.
- Iron Maiden - The Number of the Beast and Dance of Death - These two records, the former from the early days and the latter their most recent effort, combine great singable melodies with heavy, bass propelled, triple guitar majesty to create some of the best heavy music ever. From Beast, the title track kills, and "Run To The Hills" features one of the best all-time riffs in rock music (as if you didn't know that). Dance, however, is more stately but no less powerful, with kickoff single "Wildest Dreams" a stunner, "Paschendale" one of their better epics, and the surging optimism of "Age of Innocence" cleverly undercut by the downer lyrics.
- Tom Petty - "Big Weekend" and "Saving Grace"- Is there anyone more consistant in rock music than Petty? For thirty years now, this prolific Floridian has been cranking out solid, smart pop better than almost anyone. These two singles, available from Rhapsody, are a sneak peek at Petty's new album, Highway Companion, and if these songs are any indication, it looks to be his best album since 1989's Full Moon Fever. "Weekend" is a solid uptempo chugger with subtly subversive lyrics, while "Grace" is Petty's best song since "Swingin' " from the underrated Echo album.
- The Wildhearts - Riff After Riff - This is one of the most criminally underrated bands I've ever heard. Think the songwriting genius of Fountains of Wayne mixed with the sonic glory of The Darkness, and you have one of the most irresistable combinations in music - crunchy guitar heroics mixed with shockingly catchy, endlessly hummable songs that stick in your head for days. "Stormy in the North, Karma in the South" is pure pop genius, "Bang" is like The Sweet mixed with Weezer, and "Looking for the One" somehow mixes Metallica with the Archies ("Sugar,Sugar", anyone?) to create a bastard hybrid that I can't stop playing.