Pod Picks

June 27, 2012 

This week we recommend fresh tracks from a couple of rock veterans, along with a heavy-hitting newcomer, which you can download (legally, of course) or stream to your personal media device.

"Skipping" by Eddie Vedder

Vedder has become quite the balladeer. His voice has always had a deep, sage-like quality, but it’s aged to a tender, emotional inflection. Vedder bares himself through his ballads, ripping away any rock-star pomposity and getting down to exactly what matters. This track is his contribution to “Every Mother Counts 2012” – a benefit for the maternal health advocacy campaign. He plays acoustic guitar on this song (sorry to all the fans of his ukulele songs) and his young daughter, Olivia, is heard in a super-sweet intro to this ode to parenthood. Vedder strikes a beautiful chord and shows that he never phones it in when it comes to giving to worthy charities.

"What Makes a Good Man" by The Heavy

You probably remember The Heavy from their song, “How You Like Me Now?” playing in commercials and a half-dozen movies and TV shows in the last two years. But these roots-rockers from England are more than a one heavily-marketed hit wonder. This track still has the lo-fi sonic boom of their last album but charges into hand-claps and choir-sung choruses of a Southern gospel tune. Singer Lloyd Buchanan has the swagger of a preacher stomping out his sermon. While it’s not a song you’ll hear trying to sell a Kia, it proves these guys have more to offer than an ad jingle.

"Standing in the Sun" by Slash

Jack Daniels and Marlboros must form some chemical compound with Slash’s DNA that has kept him looking young. Or there must be some magic in that old top hat he found. Either way, Slash is back with a new solo album. But it feels like a band record. Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge has become a vocal surrogate for the Hollywood tragedy that Axl Rose has become. Kennedy sounds like Rose, if Rose could only control his vibrato and bravado. Slash has released some spotty material since GNR – his sometimes sloppy, sometimes great guitar playing has always been there but his supporting players and the songwriting were questionable. This song is just one of many off his new album that captures Slash rocking as hard as he did back in 1990.

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

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