In my younger days, I was a far greatly listener of heavy metal than I am today, but, every now and then, who doesn’t want to pitch every adult contemporary ‘rock’ album out with the trash in favor of something that has greater edge and harder bite? Hinder’s ALL AMERICAN NIGHTMARE fits my modest bill, though I know that there’s much heavier stuff out there. It works for me, and, if you’re reading the review, then it perhaps works for you. Here’s the breakdown:
2 Sides of Me: (5 out of 5) “This ain’t a love song … don’t get me wrong …” Like a hot wind blowing in over the desert, Hinder rocks hard at the audience with plenty of driving rhythm in its first track. Loving another person means embracing both the public and private personas, never an easy task, and it’s never been hotter than set to Hinder’s music and vocals.
All American Nightmare: (5 out of 5) Another rock track pounding out a solid beat. “I love the good girls bad and the bad girls worse.” “I’m a one-way ticket to your darkest side.” Every waking parent’s worst nightmare.
What Ya Gonna Do: (4 out of 5) Hinder finally slows it down a bit to get reflective about facing life’s challenges. “What ya gonna do when the whiskey ain’t working no more … life don’t feel like before … nobody’s beating down your door … what ya gonna do?” If there’s any drawback to this tune, then it’s probably that every rock band asks and answers the same question. While there’s nothing new, it’s still a great listen, elevated above the commonplace by stellar vocals, even a closing coda in near acapella.
Hey Ho: (3.5 out of 5) Borrows a heavy through-line from any rock track (the open sounds very familiar to Edie Brickell’s biggest hit) to celebrate rock and its lifestyle (and, especially, the women) that go hand-in-hand with it, hence the ‘ho.’ “You never liked any d*mn song I wrote …” Perhaps a bit too predictable to bring anything new, but there’s a welcome sense of fun to all of it.
The Life: (4.5 out of 5) Rockers know more than a thing or two about celebrating love, and Hinder is thankfully no exception. Indeed, where would wedding receptions be without songs like this? “So this is the life we talked about, this is the ‘I can’t live without,’ when the real world crashes down, oh, if they could see me now …” A stadium-style ballad if there ever was one. Nice work, boys.
Waking Up the Devil: (5 out of 5) Welcome to what rock’n’roll does best, folks. “I didn’t come here looking for a fight, but if you’re gonna bite then you’d better have a bite.” Laughs, pretty girls, great base-lines, whiskey, rejection, anti-establishment sentiments, and terrific backing vocals. Hinder’s performance here is a bit reminiscent of some of Def Leppard’s less radio-friendly stuff but with far more edge than that band ever showed except for its early days. This might be the best track here.
Red Tail Lights: (5 out of 5) “Red tail lights in the pouring rain …” “We ain’t gonna get nowhere screaming …” “This is where the ending begins …” Relationships are a beach (you know what I’m saying), and rockers have charted out a special niche in celebrating those final gasps at ‘workin’ it out’ and then realizing it just ain’t worth it. This is a song to crank up when you’ve had enough.
Striptease: (5 out of 5) “You’re a wannabe stripper with a microphone, and I’d respect you more if you just took off your clothes …” Bad boys are always gonna be bad boys, and perhaps there’s no better judge of gold-diggers and fake prima donnas out there. “You ain’t no Madonna, you ain’t no Pop Queen … you’re nothin’ but a striptease.” And, at the end of the day, there ain’t anything wrong with that.
Everybody’s Wrong: (2.5 out of 5) Yeah, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover. I applaud Hinder for trying something different, but “Everybody’s Wrong” is the kind of slow, introspective, meaningful rocker that either resonates with you or it doesn’t, and it didn’t really do anything for me.
Put the Record On: (4 out of 5) “I know it’s only rock’n’roll, but it’s the soundtrack of our lives …” Music has always had the ineffable power to lift us up from where we are today and transporting us to our pasts, remembering where we were, what we were doing, what our dreams were way back then, whether it was our childhood, our high school days, our first make-out session, etc., and boys serve up another anthem that’ll have the stadiums moving. Take a trip to your yesterday by discovering this track, and it’ll probably inspire you to put other records on once you’ve finished with this one.
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