In Which We Say Nice Things About The New Singles By Train And Van Halen

Categories: Train, Van Halen

traindriveby_vanhalentattoo.jpg
After all the lousiness and anger and general grey clouds that persisted throughout 2011, I've decided to adopt a more cheerful outlook for 2012—because in the face of a crumbling world, not to mention a thousand pounded-out posts and anonymous commenters screeching that 99% of everything sucks, it's even more important to burrow down and unearth the good in this planet's people, places, and things. To that end, here's the new feature Keeping It Posi, a sincere attempt to find the good in what the Internet has deemed truly unworthy, or at least crappy enough to get angry about for five or so minutes. To christen this feature, I'll examine two recent entries from rock bands who have traveled bumpy roads: "Drive By," the new single by the San Francisco bubblegum-rock outfit Train, and "Tattoo," the new single from the re-Rothified Van Halen.

Train, "Drive By"

Who: Train, holders of the title for Worst Song Of 2010 and, recently, Michelle Bachmann exit musicians.
What: "Drive By," from their forthcoming album.
The complaints: The band's search for soul wasn't nearly long enough; will probably be blanketing Lite-FM outlets by the end of this week, if not, say, tomorrow.
Three nice things:
1. The ukulele is mixed way down, if it's present at all. This artistic choice alone vaults it over "Hey, Soul Sister" in the pantheon of Train tracks. Good work, everybody.
2. The bridge. I've been on a bit of a "where's the bridge" kick lately, so much so that you'd think my new rallying cry was "The Crunge." The bridge on "Drive By"—it starts at the 2:14 mark and ends shortly after that—recalls none other than Billy Joel, which is odd because Pat Monahan spends a lot of the song sounding not like himself, or even like the Piano Man, but like a singer paying tribute to a post-Autotune-era Anthony Kiedis. More like that, please!
3. The "i" and "ooh" vowel sounds in the lyrics make things a little more upbeat. Still not really sure what sort of sexual deviancy the reference to a "Hefty two-ply" is supposed to allude to, though.

Van Halen, "Tattoo"

Who: Los Angeles rock legends Van Halen, who are on the cusp of releasing a full-length with original frontman David Lee Roth for the first time since 1984.
What: "Tattoo," from their imminent album A Different Kind of Truth.
The complaints: Michael Anthony's absence; music drags in a way that makes it sound like it was held over from the Hagar era; opening line about having "Elvis on my elbows" is but the tip of the bad-lyric iceberg.
Three nice things:
1. Still feeling goodwill from Thursday night. You guys, don't harsh my mellow!
2. It's always fun when Roth drops his voice real low. See: the 1:24 mark. Supporting evidence: The Twilight Zone-like opening to the "California Girls" video.
3. Roth's voice might be a bit ragged from age (he is 57, you know), but even on third-tier tracks, few things are as sublime as hearing it square off with Eddie Van Halen's guitar. Come on, people.

[SOTC homepage | Facebook | Twitter | Letters]

My Voice Nation Help
11 comments
5152
5152

village voice : you finally have to say good things abut Van Halen, cause they turned into a NY Night club spoken voice poetry band. Are you guys suffering from dementia in your old ages?

5152
5152

It is a mushed-up version of the fiery "Down With Flames." Van Halen is done. So is Village Voice.

Greg Hoy
Greg Hoy

FWIW, this actually *is* a VH song from 1977, Down With Flames, albeit with new lyrics and melody. For this little trickery for naysayers saying 'It doesn't sound like old VH', I snicker and salute them.

Badge
Badge

The Who's "Tattoo" is a much better song about the subject   

Shawn
Shawn

For years, I believed a full on Roth/Halen reunion would be the worst possible thing the band could do (yes, even worse than Van Halen III). But I'm starting to warm up to the idea. I've played "Tattoo" twice now and it's growing on me. Yeah, Dave's voice may be a bit of a Diamond in the rough these days (puns!) but what the guy may be lacking in vocal range, he makes up for in pure charm. I'm really looking forward to this new album. I hope it doesn't disappoint.

Guest
Guest

Was anyone really expecting the new VH to sound like "Ain't talkin bout love" or "Everybody Want's Some"?  

ck
ck

I agree about Van Halen.There's still a lot of chemistry there.This song just grows on you. At first I didn't like it much but it just seems to sound better and better.It's a step in the right direction.A warm up I think for what's really coming:A rock and roll train and hopefully not a rock and roll trainwreck.

Kevin
Kevin

It's "Down IN Flames", not "Down WITH Flames", expert, and it's been available in bootleg form for decades, as "She's The Woman" and "Bullet Head" have. "Tattoo" does have new lyrics and a new melody, and suffers greatly for it. 

5152
5152

well put. Until the sucky live album of 1993, whatever Ed did surpassed what he'd previously done. it went downhill from there.

Now Trending

New York Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...