A new tune from soon-to-be Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall Of Famers Cheap Trick, has made its way online. The first single from the band’s upcoming album Bang Zoom Crazy Hello, “No Direction Home,” was released yesterday via the Cheap Trick website, where it’s available as a free download.
There’s no mistaking the sly bass line that snakes under lead singer Robin Zander’s John Lennon-esque vocals, while a slick Rick Nielsen lead segues into a dreamy breakdown right out of the Next Position Please era. But while there are certainly hooks around every corner, unfortunately, the harmony vocals appear to be buried in the mix, and while Daxx Nielsen is accomplished in his own right, that intangible Bun E. Carlos swing is missing on the drums. Overall, the production, by past Cheap Trick collaborator Julian Raymond—Raymond produced 2009’s The Latest, and co-wrote “If It Takes A Lifetime” off of the Rockford album—is reminiscent of 1985’s Standing On The Edge, which would appear to be a perfect fit for the band’s new label.
The band just inked a deal with Big Machine Records, an independent country label that has represented Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, and classic rocker-turned-country singer Steven Tyler. (Cheap Trick has opened for Aerosmith several times over the past few years, so maybe it was Tyler who suggest that the Midwestern Beatles make their way to Nashville.) It’s a move that makes sense; country rock radio’s drinking anthems and starry-eyed ballads recall the heyday of hair metal, and—perhaps unfairly—Cheap Trick was lumped in with Poison and the like back in the ’80s. Plus, the modern country scene has been very good to older pop-rock artists that are still putting out new material, such as Darius Rucker and Brett Michaels. It’s also worth noting that just last spring, Cheap Trick opened for bro-country wunderkinds The Zac Brown Band at Wrigley Field.
Thankfully for fans, despite Zander’s proclivity for cowboy hats, Cheap Trick doesn’t appear to be changing its sound any time soon: In addition to the band’s signature heavy guitars and heavier hooks, Bang Zoom Crazy Hello may also feature a cover from Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music that the band has been performing live over the past year. Bang Zoom Crazy Hello is set for release April 1, 2016.