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Music to your ears

Airbourne – Runnin' Wild

04/01/2008 - Nostalgia is a funny thing. You've probably heard the phrase, "The older I get, the better I was." This is certainly true in my case, and I believe it would be accurate to expand that notion by saying, "The older I get, the better it was." Now, the it I'm referencing here can be anything. It could be a car, a job, clothes (probably not), or maybe just the way things were in general.

For the purposes of this article, I will admit that I often use the aforementioned phrase in regard to music. Admit it. When you listen to the music of your youth these days, it takes on an almost mythical, magical quality. It certainly has the power to transport you back to those days, if even for a moment. Heck, some folks just listen constantly to the same old stuff and sort of live in a weird, unproductive time-warp, which, while it may make them feel happy on some level, is sad all the same.

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When I go back and listen to the music of my younger days (AC/DC, Motorhead, Metallica, et.al.), I can objectively identify certain commonalities. Big drums, loud, heavy guitars, snarling vocals, and above all, a wild and free, almost primal energy is the hallmark of the music I appreciated most back then.

Since then, I have often lamented the passage of that sort of music. Where did that wild abandon go? Where is the energy? I'm not talking about the abject anger that is ever-present in most of today's heavier styles of music. I'm simply referring to the vigorously crazy, frenetic energy and brimming-over enthusiasm of youth. Where did it go?

The answer, apparently, is Australia. Four young lads from a small Aussie town found it, plugged it in, and turned it up to eleven. These four boys ranging in age from 19 to 23 formed a band called Airbourne and went about the business of bringing their boundless energy to the world. And I'm really glad they did. It's about time!

Upon first listen (and every subsequent listen, for that matter) Airbourne immediately commands comparisons to the almighty AC/DC, then Def Leppard to a slightly lesser degree. This is good. Very, very good. The stripped down, bluesy-yet-ridiculously-hard-rocking guitar riffs slice like razors, while the bass and drums hold down the bottom end with astonishing ferocity. Joel O'Keefe's vocals sound like Bon Scott, Brian Johnson, and Joe Elliot all rolled into one seriously rocking front man. In short, this is the best straight up rock and roll album I've heard since Guns & Roses rocked the world with "Appetite For Destruction" back in 1987. No kidding.

I don't even mind the comically cliché ridden lyrics espousing open hedonism and self-destructive behaviors It would sound weird for these guys to be singing about anything else. It makes sense, at least for them. Of course, ten or twenty years from now they'll be writing songs warning of the danger and heartbreak of living the rock and roll life, that is if they live until then. That's the way it goes, though. The boys in Airbourne have absolutely no sense of life perspective, and that's what makes their music so real. They simply don't care about tomorrow, and their brand of rock and roll is a total celebration of that fact. In their words, all they want to do is to make authentic Australian pub-rock records and knock back a few pints in the process. I swear, it's as though these blokes stepped out of a Melbourne pub with blinking eyes back in 1978 and found themselves thirty years down the road. It's like young versions of Angus and Malcolm Young stepping emerging from a time machine. Beautiful.

You see, folks, that's why I live in the best of all worlds. I can rock out to Airbourne with total abandon, pumping my fist and air-guitaring like a fiend, then turn off the music, straiten my necktie, and go about the business of being a reasonably responsible adult. By the way, if you see me in my car at an intersection here in town, banging my bald head and shouting along with the music issuing forth from my stereo, think nothing of it. I'm just enjoying a momentary escape back to a time when I actually had hair on my banging head.

In all seriousness, this is a fantastic rock and roll masterpiece. It's unbelievable, really. Imagine a new AC/DC – Def Leppard combo album dripping with energy and attitude, with excellent production value. It's all here. Rock and Roll is back! Yeah!

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