Queen, The Cosmos Rocks -- there isn't enough invective in the English language to describe how I feel about this record. Like -- I love Queen, okay? Freddie Mercury is the greatest singer in the history of rock music. It's that simple. Elvis had the sex, the soul, the appeal, but there has been NOBODY EVER with chops like Freddie that still made you care deeply about what he was singing and wanna shake your ass at the same time. And as a replacement, we get journeyman bloozeman Paul Rogers? The fuck? How is that even a correlate? Has Paul Rogers ever, even when he was actually good back in the Free days, had even one scintilla of the flair and the power of Freddie? Does anybody still enjoy hearing Bad Company on the radio? Were they even ever any more than Zeppelin third-stringers? Wasn't The Firm already a sick embarrassment 'cause of Paul Rogers 25 years ago? I could name you thirty guys who'd be better than Paul Rogers in Queen, and make more sense -- the list starts with George Michael and goes from there, and no, I'm not kidding -- but apparently formerly-thrilling-guitarist Brian May is content to play with safe. And that's just what this record is -- competent, well-played, extraordinarily safe rock and roll music, and it makes me absolutely sick to my gut, because that's what Queen NEVER were, EVER, was fucking safe. Dig? Don't bother, don't even look at this record or play it on iTunes or steal it from the internet because if you like Queen and you like rock music, it's just gonna piss you off and you'll end up wanting to pull your own fingernails out. Like I did. Fuck you, Queen And Paul Rogers.
Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Cardinology -- Okay, we've already established that it's super not hip to like Ryan Adams. I mean -- Pitchfork gave this thing a 4 out of 10, and Pitchfork are the arbiters of What's Hip Right Now, and I'm sure right now are listening to the new Black Kids record and patting their own backs at their unimaginative slagging of the "classic rock." 'Cept Ryan Adams ain't really about hip, and never was. Ryan Adams' influences are about as unhip -- the Dead, mid-period Stones, U2 or something, whatever else you'd care to name -- as you can get. Ryan Adams doesn't care. Ryan Adams is about writing pretty songs about his own pain, and if you can't get behind that, you ain't never really gonna get him, which don't matter much to Ryan Adams, as he's gonna keep on writing pretty songs about his own pain probably as a form of therapy, and hell with you anyway, and that kinda makes him cooler than a lotta guys who pose and act all indie and whatever else, that not giving a fuck what you think-ness.
Ryan Adams would like you to know, but doesn't care if you don't dig it, that "Cardinology"'s kind of a corker, and that the first four songs are pretty much solid all the way through. I especially like "Fix It," which is probably the best piece of musical rumination on getting left by someone I've ever heard. At its base, this is a good old-fashioned breakup record, with virtually every song lamenting somebody (Parker Posey?) who left the poor sad sack in the dust, but man, does he manage a buncha great tunes about it. It starts to lag right around "Sink Ships" but wow, the first half just slays. And yeah -- it's "classic rock" in just about every way you can name, and terribly uncool and unhip, but damned if I dont' like it anyway, not that Ryan Adams cares one jot. He's just gonna keep putting out records whether you or I like it or not. Luckily I do.
AC/DC, Black Ice -- Meanwhile, we have the new AC/DC record, available quite conveniently at your local WAL-MART store, and nowhere else, because Brian Johnson thinks the internet steals your vital fluids or something. And the good news is that it kicks lots and lots of ass. The guitars drill themselves into your skull, the vocals shriek and squeal and scream in all the right places, the drums you can feel in your gut (BOOM -- KSHHH -- BOOM -- KSHHH, and nothing else, ever) and the songwriting is tight and heavy and stupid, absolutely irredeemably wonderfully stupid. The other good news is that the band have not changed AT ALL. They haven't gotten any better or any worse -- they're frozen in suspended animation in 1981, and that's kinda what you want, right? You don't WANT AC/DC to write a concept album about each of the 50 states, or make an album of country covers or something. You just want them to be loud and dumb and that's it, and do you really need any more? Hell, we need a band like that, right?
The bad news is that its about six or seven songs too long, but hey, that's what they make skip buttons for, right? There's a buncha killer tunes lumped at the beginning -- "Rock 'n' Roll Train" and "Skies on Fire" and "Big Jack" and "Anything Goes" and then you gotta hit skip and then "Smash "n' Grab" is killer and "Spoilin' for a Fight" and then "Decibel" is super damn heavy and "Stormy May Day" and skip skip "Money Made" and then skip skip skip skip and you're back up atop again. It ain't perfect. It's too long. But it's loud and dumb and will crunch the shit out of your skull and leave you bleeding, and I think that's worth the price of admission. Have fun at WalMart, folks.