Aerosmith play hard, Jason Mraz stays easy
MANILA, Philippines - It’s interesting that, in their recent, first ever concert on our turf, Aerosmith hardly showcased tunes off their latest studio album, “Music from Another Dimension.” The band instead unleashed an omnibus hit parade starring most of their smash singles across the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, thus suggesting that their current “Global Warming World Tour” is no direct tie-in with “Dimension.”
While local concertgoers went home with ear-to-ear grins after having seen and heard lead vocalist Steven Tyler and rock mates serve up the likes of “Love in an Elevator,” “Dream On,” and “Walk This Way,” it’s actually quite a shame that “Music from Another Dimension” was not much of a source material since “Dimension” is chockfull of catchy, crowd-pleasing tracks.
In fact, this 15th studio album by Tyler and company — guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer — sounds like a greatest hits package, even if its 15 songs are all new.
For one thing, the musical and/or lyrical spirits of, say, “Sweet Emotion,” “Livin’ on the Edge,” and “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” are channeled by such “Dimension” tunes as “Closer,” “We All Fall Down,” and “Beautiful.”
Even further, “What Could Have Been Love” sounds like the aspiring sequel to the syrupy Aero-smash “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” while “Legendary Child” deliberately fuses hints of “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion” into a rabid scorcher that also sneaks in a melodic quoting of Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City.” (Incidentally, a fanboy sketch by GNR axeman and recent Manila first-timer Slash is reprinted as the “Dimension” booklet’s centerfold.)
In other words, there is something for every Aero-fan.
Here is the music video for Aerosmith’s ‘Legendary Child’:
A big Tyler groupie? His sans-bandmates, falsetto-showcasing album “Another Last Goodbye,” co-written by perennial hitmaker Desmond Child, should hit the spot. A solid Perry admirer? He has fiery solos galore across “Dimension,” and even serves up lead vocals for “Freedom Fighter” and “Something” (though, sorry, his singing reminds me of the muppet Rowlf the Dog).
Honky-tonk’s your thang? “Out Go the Lights” has just the sing- and clap-along vibe you’d dig. Stomping, ear-splitting rock bliss is what you miss? The curtain-raising “Luv XXX,” where Tyler at one point sounds like Motörhead lead singer Lemmy Kilmister, is noise-quake unleashed.
For my money, though, it’s “Oh Yeah” that is the album’s best keeper — the one “Dimension” cut that was in the band’s Mall of Asia Arena set list last week. “Oh Yeah” is such a straight-ahead rock delight. Penned by Perry, it’s lead-sang by Tyler with a merry gang of backup vocalists (including “American Idol” runner-up Lauren Alaina) and buoyed by a classic Perry riff and the game-on stamina of Whitford, Hamilton, and Kramer.
The tune evokes the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” while being its own b*tchin’ sonic beast.
While Aerosmith are grizzled sexagenarians who keep their music loud and their sound large, and lyrically alternate between naughty and nice, good time and down time, Jason Mraz is a mostly laidback 35-year-old whose music and words are largely glass-half-full affirmations of life’s goodness, love’s sweetness, and his acoustic guitar’s gentleness.
Especially with his latest, 4th studio album, “Love is a Four Letter Word” (incidentally, another punctuation offender in recent US pop culture), it’s as if Mraz aims to eschew complication at every turn.
His singing and guitar work and his supporting instrumentalists’ playing coalesce into such easy-on-the-ears jams that it’s also, er, easy for the downright cynical to dismiss them as pedestrian and dull. Mraz’s lyrics, for their part, match the simple accessibility of his vocals, thus making the absence of a lyrics guide on the CD’s package logical.
While the mood across “Four Letter Word’s” track list does vary, the 56-minute lineup is generally a conventional toss-up between breezy, sing-songy coolers, such as “The Woman I Love” and “Everything is Sound,” and hushed, reflective contemplations, with “I Won’t Give Up” and “93 Million Miles” as cases in point.
Even when nifty strings and horns arrangements are utilized in “Who’s Thinking About You Now?” and “The Freedom Song,” respectively, they sound hardly complex and intrusive, as if to imply that any hint of adventurism would spoil the overall mellow pop vibe.
Such traits have led to Mraz’s being compared to John Mayer and even James Taylor, and his chill-out vocal tendencies might even remind elder ears of smooth jazz crooner Michael Franks. On that note, it’s certain that not just casual listeners of the dude’s, um, Mraz-matazz but also folkhouse musicians to whom strumming a guitar is second nature will flock to his latest Manila gig Tuesday this week, May 14.
Mraz, however, is no parody but rather a young peer of those aforesaid singer-songwriters, one who could possibly have grander stuff to conceive in the years to come.
For now, attendees of Mraz’s latest, Araneta Coliseum gig can expect to hear maybe a quartet of “Four Letter Word” ditties — but possibly not, say, the lilting, aw-shucks charmers “Be Honest” and “Everything is Sound” — along with his earlier, audience-friendly hits such as the groovy “The Remedy,” the jazzy “Make It Mine” and, of course, the reggae-inflected megahit “I’m Yours.”
Here is the music video for Jason Mraz’s ‘I Won’t Give Up’:
All told, while “Music from Another Dimension” and “Love is a Four Letter Word” are easily must-grabs for Aerosmith’s and Mraz’s respective fans, these discs should likewise be of interest for anyone musically inclined.
Sure, these albums may not fully take you to a far-out dimension altogether, but if you can afford the expense, indulging in them could bring to mind the 4-letter words “cool” and “nice." - Rappler.com
‘Music from Another Dimension’ (released by Ivory Music & Video) and ‘Love is a Four Letter Word’ (Warner Music Philippines) are available in major record stores