Prime Cuts: Red River, Sins of My Youth, Burnt Out Town
Finally you have a band with some backbones. In a desperate effort to charter a "come back," many artists have prostituted themselves by baring their mid riffs and dancing to songs that their children listen to. This isn't so with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. On their 13th studio album, "Hypnotic Eye," you won't hear a trace of derivative hip hop or bubblegum pop or even electronic dance on it. Rather, what you will hear is some good old fashioned rock n' roll; the kind of music that first brought them to the dance. And their dance began way back in 1976 when they released their eponymous debut album. Ever since, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have been at the forefront of the heartland rock movement alongside Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen throughout the 70s and 80s. Over the years, they have become a household name with songs such as "American Girl," "Breakdown," "The Waiting" and "Learning to Fly." Selling over 80 million records, they are also one of the world's best selling bands of all time.
"Hypnotic Eye" opens with "American Dream Plan B," which actually cements the template for the record. With the acoustic strumming of the guitar that segues into lots of wizardry kicking guitar solos this is consummate rock n' roll in its purest form. Though the lyrics that deals with chasing after one's dreams traverses no new territory, the swagger in the tune makes this one of the best rock n' roll song to be written in a long while. If you are looking lyrically brilliancy, look no farther than "Red River." A scintillating original, the song which deals with the subject of self introspection that flourishes with lots of exotic images from a tiger's tooth to a rabbit's feet. "Burnt Out Town,' on the other hand, has that dusty cowboy and western feel that somehow recalls the aforementioned Bruce Springsteen in his more rustic moments.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers not only have the backbones to stand up for the music they love, but they are also to be applauded for speaking up for those who are victims of misused power. "Power People" and "Shadow People" are songs that ought to rattle our social consciences. The latter "Shadow People" essays in its lyrics such a dark psychological analysis of the human soul that it's a song worth ruminating about. Speaking of introspective songs, "Sins of My Youth" is the softest spot on the record. A gorgeous ballad that deals with love's confessions over the metronome times of love's bliss and love's woes, Tom Petty has never sounded more heartfelt in his nuances.
Yet, one of the greatest allure of rock music is the carefree feel it creates. And such moments abound with the breezy "U Get Me High." Featuring a cool baseline, "U Get Me High" is simply a love song simple in its construction yet unforgettable in its affection. In this day and age of recycled music and computerized augmentations it's a challenge to find a good ol' rock n' roll record that doesn't sound like a studio patchwork. In this regard, we need to cherish Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and their new record "Hypnotic Eye."
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