January is a notorious slog for new music, what with the good stuff released during the preceding holiday brouhaha. But thanks to curious circumstances kick-starting 2012 — a superstar pregnancy, classic-rock wonkery, the random synaptic misfirings of David Lee Roth's brain — the new year has opened with sonic buzz.
Have you heard Van Halen's reunion blast Tattoo? Jay-Z's Glory rap to baby daughter Blue Ivy? Or the Doors' scrum She Smells So Nice, unearthed just in time for the 40th anniversary 'luxe release of the band's L.A. Woman album? The Internet abounds with lovers and haters of these surprise new releases. Here's our quickie take on each:
Van Halen, Tattoo: Infamous headcases Eddie Van Halen and Diamond Dave somehow stopped annoying each other long enough to record A Different Kind of Truth, their first full-length album since 1984. These guys are a beloved mess, so there's no telling if the record, to be released on Feb. 7, will be any good. That said, first single Tattoo shows enough promise to get fans jacked — and enough ink-stained wretched lyrics to make you long for the tender nuance of Van Hagar's Poundcake. The music itself has punch, especially a tingly I'll Wait-esque coda and Eddie's requisite solo, tapping frenzy included. As for the four minutes before that? Fifty-seven-year-old DLR awkwardly talk-sings gibberish that makes Hot for Teacher play like a sonnet: "Swapmeet Sally / Trampstamp cat / Mousewife to bombshell in the time it took to get that new tattoo." I'll give it a B- only because I've never been more excited about anything in my life.
Jay-Z, Glory: Beyonce's hubby released this sweet, rolling urban lullaby so fast after the birth of new daughter Blue Ivy you wonder if proud papa bolted the delivery room before he even had a chance to cut the cord. Sampling his newborn's coos a la Stevie Wonder's Isn't She Lovely, the Brooklyn mogul born Shawn Carter, and nicknamed J Hova, shows his soft side with beaming wordplay: "A younger, smarter faster me / So a pinch of Hov / A whole glass of B." Gossip sharks will dwell on a reference to a previous miscarriage, but instead they should simply appreciate a moving love letter from a tough titan to the lil' girl who tames him. A
The Doors, She Smells So Nice: This giddy, sloppy outtake sounds like a faux-boogie theme song from a '70s game show — preferably one with Gene Rayburn! — coupled with Jim Morrison's apparent olfactory fetish. It was never meant for release, but Doors producer Bruce Botnick found it while going over the session tapes for L.A. Woman, so here's a bonus track for fans. Mr. Mojo Risin' is up to his typical mystical hogwash, but keyboardist Ray Manzarek is a fast-fingered marvel. For purists and/or ear, nose, throat docs only. C+
Sean Daly can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.