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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Mojo
Songs like 'Mary Jane's Last Dance' and 'Free Fallin' might possibly be what made singer-songwriter Tom Petty famous on the Americana classic rock 'n' roll scene. From the 1970s to late 1980s, the leading front-man of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers brought with him a catchy Southern Rock feel with songs that we still listen to today.
From solo albums to his work with the Travelling Wilburys and Mudcrutch throughout his career, Tom Petty has managed to sell over 60 million albums worldwide, making a name for himself in the classic rock genre. For the first time in eight years, Petty and the Heartbreakers have managed to record yet another album, Mojo, released on June 15th before the launch of his North American Summer Tour.
Not only did the album's release take us by surprise– those classic songs are some of our favourites– but we had to find out if Petty still had his thing going on; so we decided to check it out.
The album as a whole carries a much bluesier ambience to it, while those classic rock 'n' roll beats and wailing guitar licks are still woven throughout Mojo. While many of the lyrics are quite narrative and particularly focused on the ups and downs of life on the road, the free spirit that defined Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is still present.
In the opening track 'Jefferson Jericho Blues', the upbeat tempo combined with Petty’s whiny nature calls for a little road trip across the West, while the pairing of piano with harmonica holds true to Petty’s style. 'The Trip to Pirate's Cove' carries a much more pensive nature, where Petty sings about car troubles and parties at seedy hotels during one of his many trips. Petty sounds a little desperate at this point.
'Don’t Pull me Over' has an altogether different atmosphere that brings with it a reggae sound, begging for grace from an angry policeman who happens to be a little upset with the doped up Petty on the road. From the reggae take to its saddened undertone, the coolness of the song goes from trippy to a bit depressing.
From beginning to end, Mojo's narratives make it clear that Petty continues to engage in the same recreational activities he always has. His sound on the album is still clear, although not necessarily strong nor completely present. Petty's mojo is starting to run out and while the album has a few rocking songs; he's better left to his early gigs.
Just ask Guns ‘n Roses’ Axl Rose or try and listen to any recent Korn album without cringing. Many bands quit (R.E.M., Sonic Youth), others tone down their sound (Metallica) and some keep regurgitating what they’ve been doing for decades (The Rolling Stones).
Kim Thayil’s guitar traditionally wails around on the dissonant side of the spectrum and singer Chris Cornell still deals out high-pitched screeches like a rock version of Celine Dion – but they have audibly matured. And considering that the grunge kids of two decades ago have aged with them, many will appreciate this more grown-up, adult sound.
After 52 minutes, one question remains: now that Soundgarden seems to have arrived at their definitive sound, will they become one of those established bands that don’t evolve anymore? Like fellow Seattle-ites Pearl Jam, or grandfathers of rock Aerosmith, for example. Or will they continue to develop their sound, like Muse or Radiohead?
Having released no new material for almost a decade, Metallica finally return to the scene with their latest album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct. Written mostly by James Hatfield and Lars Ulrich, this is the first album that doesn’t include any song writing contributions from Kirk Hammett since he joined the band in 1983; when the album was being written, he lost his phone in a Copenhagen airport which included 250 riff ideas so he had to start from scratch.
The two disk album has 12 tracks in total with 6 on each that still retain the thrash metal vibe that Metallica has come to be known for. Following the same fast pace, the first song ,‘Hardwired’ starts with a steady drum and guitar riff that will get you head banging and tapping your feet in no time.
With strong songs like ‘Moth into Flame’ and ‘Halo on Fire’, the first disk has the familiar thrash tropes that make it what it is; it’s fast, it’s hard, it’s in your face and has an attitude, which is what makes Metallica so awesome.
However, the first disk is not without fault; the fifth song ‘Dream No More’ feels out of place musically as its rhythm and guitar work doesn’t feel cohesive with the rest of the songs on the disk, as if it was supposed to be on a different disk or in another album as it goes from fast then slow and conflicting itself.
The second disk, on the other hand, starts on a different note with songs like ’Am I Savage?’ and ‘Here Comes Revenge’ following a slower tone than the rest of the album, though ’Spit out the Bone’ might be the fastest song on the whole album and will surely make you feel like you need to catch your breath afterwards.
As a whole, the album sounds like one huge song, especially the first disk which feels fluid and, in a way, follows a rhythmic pattern; however, the second feels a bit tamed and toned down, as even though it has some fast-as-lighting guitar work, it still lacks some oomph to it. Still, it offers a level of satisfaction for diehard fans who have waited for eight years for new material.
All in all, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is a great addition to the band’s discography; the band members have given it their all, while not showing their age. We just hope it doesn’t take them another eight years till the next one