Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

March 11, 2013

Bon Jovi ~ What About Now

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Style: hard rock
Label: Island
Year: 2013
Home: New Jersey

Members: Jon Bon Jovi ~ vocals/guitar
Richie Sambora ~ guitar/b. vocals
Hugh McDonald ~ bass/b. vocals
David Bryan ~ keyboards/b. vocals
Tico Torres ~ drums

Have you heard the new unreleased Bruce Springsteen & E Street Band album of heavy polished ballads & AM friendly hard rock? Well, I don't know if they have one, but that's what I'm reminded of by the new BJ album. Heavy with ballads or at least not gut originating hard rock "soft rock party album" is how one reviewer described it. I'd say neither of us are too far off, I've just given an example of a band to go with the description. Another said "auto-tuned arena rock". BJ always did arena rock but if they think they need auto-tune then What About Now asks a question I don't want to answer. Fuse the ideas of me & my two peers together & I think you'll have a good idea of the twelth BJ album. Some fans are already reaching for the mouse to click off this review, I know, but let's be honest, those fans left soon after "Always" & are only reading because it's a band from their youth not a band they've cared about. But, recent fans of the last decade are probably not going to be disappointed as What About Now turns out a solid set of songs ... not necessarily inspired, memorable or the best of BJ, but I don't think BJ has been doing any of those things since before "Always." So, obviously, you have my bias upfront. I prefer the old 80's/early 90's BJ, but I can see elements in this album that a younger under 30 generation is going to enjoy. There are a few good songs & my list includes keepers "Army Of One", "What's Left Of Me", "With These Two Hands", "Because We Can", "I'm With You." Maybe for me not the best of BJ, but I'd listen again & I've already listened a few times. What About Now could be changed to asked what do you like in your music? If you like an album heavy on softer love songs - checked. If you like wild guitar solos & hair to go with it - unchecked. After turns with different styles of music over the last few years is BJ still a hard rock band at heart? Yes ... perhaps. Just not my definition of hard nor what I look for in my rock, but I can see why they remain popular with a younger crowd ... and they do remain popular, if not more in Europe than America. I give BJ a lot of credit for continuing to be a presence on the international stage in a way few bands can do. Okay, they did it by sacrificing one older fanbase for a younger one. Maybe that might be an issue for some, but it also takes skill to so successfully & reinvent yourself for a new generation. Few have done it & retained it album after album ... but BJ has always been able to turn out successful music that defies logic. BJ don't sound dated but right in line with the American Idol crowd. My problem is the songs don't grab you. The singles are weak, all sound alike & the album suffers from a mono-chromatic sound generally. Is this the 2012/13 version of a AOR AM radio friendly album? Does itunes have AM? The lyrics are the same safe & well crafted lyrics they've been writing for the last decade. Jon Bon Jovi also isn't stretching his vocals chords, making me wonder if I missed the news of a health problem. & too many chorus vocals. Maybe that's how they continued to be successful - they've played it more safe than not. I picked up this album after seeing a facebook discussion that said it was worse than Metallica & Lou Reed's Lulu ... of course a few people defended that album as miraculous outing saying how they're Lou Reed fans, um, I consider him my favorite songwriter & the 30 books on my shelf about him should contest to that, does that mean I'm not a fan? But, three people loving the album doesn't change it's popular opinion & sometimes its good to argue with popular ideas & forget about your individual perspective. But, when someone gives this comparison how can you not listen to the album under discussion? Actually, anytime someone compares an album to Lou Reed that's such a rare moment that it deserves to be taken notice of. Actually, I didn't even know BJ had a new album, as I stopped listening to them after "Always" when they went syrupy country rock & everything but the great band I grew up with in the 80's. Again I thank facebook for being my best news source. Is this worse than Lulu? I don't think I've hinted anything so far that it's worse or better, actually. Further, I'd prefer to let Lou keep the honor of having two of the worst albums in music - it suits him. Is this a runner-up? Actually, compared to some other things I've heard actually not. Is it good BJ? As I said, it depends on the listener & I give the band a lot of credit for making something that polarizes with quality, style & generationally. I actually think of the new Night Ranger for a good comparison, which I found a guitarfest with no substance. This has substance but no guitarfest or music to back it up. If you have a party & need some soft rock put this on first when the night is low. Night Ranger will be better saved for later in the night. Better air guitar playing on that one. This one is when folks are still sober enough to sing.

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