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)

May 9, 2013

Aerosmith ~ Music From Another Dimension!

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Style: hard rock, classic rock
Label: Columbia
Year: 2012
Home: Boston, Massachusetts

Members: Steven Tyler ~ lead vocals/guitars/keyboards/harmonica/percussion/mandolin/cigfiddle
Joe Perry ~ guitar/bass/hammered dulcimer/synths/vocals
Brad Whitford ~ rhythm guitar/b. vocals
Tom Hamilton ~ bass/guitar/synths/vocals
Joey Kramer ~ drums/b. vocals
Rick Dufay ~ rhythm guitar

Additional: Melanie Taylor, Laura Jones, Bruce Witkin, Warren Huart, Mia Tyler, Sharlotte Gibson ~ b. vocals
Dr. Rudy Tanzi ~ keyboards/b. vocals
Marti Friederiksen ~ keyboards/synth/b. vocals
Paul Santo, Zac Rae ~ keyboards
Eric Gorfan, Daphne Chen ~ violin
Lauren Chipman ~ viola
Richard Dodo ~ cello
Tom Scott, Jessy J., John Mitchell ~ sax
Bill Reichenbach, Jr. ~ trombone
Gary Grant, Larry Hall ~ trumpet
Jesse Sky Kramer ~ bass
Daniel J. Coe ~ synths
Jesse Kotanisky ~ violin solo
Jack Douglas ~ percussion/keyboards/synths/b. vocals

Guest: Julian Lennon, Johnny Depp ~ b. vocals
Carrie Underwood ~ vocals
Desmond Child ~ piano
Russ Irwin ~ piano/b. vocals

First things first, this album should have a warning label on it. Not a traditional warning label about bad lyrics ... no, on second thought it should be about bad lyrics, just really poorly written bad lyrics. Do not do what I did & read the lyrics first. That's your warning. You'll suddenly decide not to listen to the album. I mean, it's bad enough when your lyric writing is based around a rhyming dictionary, it's worse when you don't know how to make sense when you rhyme, let alone have anything remotely interesting to write about. Why even write songs? Why not just sing the rhyming dictionary? Steven Tyler will show you how to make it sound interesting ... you just have to have a voice with his trademarkable dynamics & no humility that after thirty years in music you have nothing to sing about other than cliched sex like it's 1985. Tyler might be talented, but its albums like this I question the definition of talent. Read/listen to "Luv XXX" if you want to see what I mean. Now that we've got the warning out of the way, grab a blender, throw in every Aerosmith album from day one, except for the two sans Perry, & press pulp. The result is Music From Another Dimension! & the dimension is a time warp twenty years ago. This sounds less like what we'd except the aging boys to sound like at this point in their life & more like Pump or Permanent Vacation but without any of the great Desmond Child lyrics or memorable arrangements ... okay, there's one Child song, but "Another Last Goodbye" is the closer, the cleanest arrangement & still empty lyrically & thus ends up being more a useless coda of what could be than a benefit. How you can aim & miss so badly is the question this album asks. Looking at Steven Tyler's list of instruments & the array of backing musicians & the answer becomes clear. It's not that you're aiming, you're just out of control. This is every album they've made plus the kitchen sink from each band member's house all mixed together with no focus either on the whole or in individual songs. The album is heavily textured & layered to hell but it's got too many layers to focus on, the problem with the Joe Perry Project albums too, & it sound like a bunch of pieces sewn together versus coherent songs. Someone had too much studio time. Hey, look, we've got an hour & a kitchen sink - what are we going to do with it? It's not riffs or melody lines but just a bunch of sounds with some wild vocals, & over-used & distracting backing vocals, & no message & no flow on any level. The emotive ballads, the moments when things come back to this dimension, suffer from bad lyrics right out the door that kills anything the song is trying for. It's hard to figure out what the boys are trying to do here. Obviously they are trying to go back in time, but they've failed to notice that their classic songs are not the ones that are cluttered, but slimmed down & basic. Think of the opening to "Janie's Got A Gun" or the memorable guitar parts of "Dream On". If there were layers added to that the songs would collapse. I repeatedly listened to this album, though I struggled to get past the first few songs as song after song would go buy & I'd realized I couldn't remember what I'd just heard. It's not good when you can't remember an album you've just listened to. There is some saving grace. In each song coming out of the cluttered mist, its not even a scary mist either, is Joe Perry's guitar solos. Besides still looking cool in his elder years, cooler than ever maybe, & not like someone's grandmother going through an egotistical personality crisis, the guy is still a hot guitar player. It's just ashame he doesn't know when to pull back or maybe he does but isn't the one steering. The only songs I found of interest after repeated listens are "Oh Yeah", "Closer", "Freedom Fighter", "Lover Alot" with its rhythmic singing & the country-esque ballad "What Could Have Been Love". "Beautiful" is a strange song I found addicting, maybe because I couldn't figure out which band Aerosmith was trying to imitate. It opens with hip-hop/rap/talking vocals for the verse & an Arctic Monkeys like chorus. Didn't Aerosmith see what happened to the Rolling Stones when Mick Jagger decided he could rap in the early 80's? Like the Stones the chorus is great, the verse horrible, the song destroyed but you keep wanting to hear it again just to see if its really that bad. "Out Go The Lights" was almost on my list as it has some great soloing, but the overly long ending solo with oop-oop vocals just killed it's momentum. "Legendary Child" I originally liked as it has the first good lyrics on the album, but cluttered by an unfocused arrangement. How many kitchen sinks are necessary? No more sinks. I want some counter space back. Perry takes vocals on "Freedom Fighter", "Oasis In The Night" & "Something". The first sounds like something out of Warren Zevon & is absolutely out of place in this mess. The tracks also make this feel like the Rolling Stones where Keith Richards also sings two tracks & just like the Stones each of Richards' tracks are low-key affairs that are some of the better songs as they do what all the other songs should do. Tom Hamilton takes lead vocals on "Up On A Mountain" lessening the Richards effect. It seems to me there's a lot of bands from the older days coming back with new music either choosing to reinvent themselves, like Bret Michaels & Bon Jovi, or sticking to the old template, like Kiss or Journey or Night Ranger. While a decade ago when they were all having reunions the reinvention was great. Now I highly recommend not to reinvent but just chill for a bit longer on what you do best. The reinventions I'm finding routinely disappointing, while the bands holding still, even when I don't particularly like those bands in the first place, are far more enjoyable.

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