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Picks and Pans Main: Music

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Van Halen

A Different Kind of Truth |


“Told ya I was coming back/Say you missed me/Say it like you mean it.” So speaketh David Lee Roth on “Blood and Fire,” an anthem of resurgence and resilience. Diamond Dave certainly deserves to feel vindicated after reuniting with Van Halen for this, the first studio album to feature the band’s original frontman since 1984, their blockbuster of that titular year. (You can just imagine a smirking Roth thumbing his honker at Sammy Hagar.) Forget “Tattoo,” the plodding first single. Rocking like it’s 1984 all over again, there’s much better stuff here: the snarling “You and Your Blues,” which brings out Roth’s bluesiest; “The Trouble with Never,” a crowd-pleaser that asks their now-middle-aged fans, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” Elsewhere, metallic cuts like the blistering “Bullethead” feature some blazing guitar work from Eddie Van Halen, who, playing alongside 20-year-old son Wolfgang on bass, must want to show the kid who’s still the boss.

Dierks Bentley

Home |


On his last outing, 2010’s Up on the Ridge, Dierks Bentley got his bluegrass bona fides with Alison Krauss and Vince Gill, among others. Home returns the country star to more radio-friendly territory like the No. 1 hit “Am I the Only One,” a feel-good drinking song. But standouts like “5-5-1-0,” a banjo-laced barn stomper, and “Diamonds Make Babies,” which slyly examines the consequences of putting a ring on it, still show plenty of respect for down-home tradition.