The Skinny: Springsteen’s first release following the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and his first studio recording since 1995’s Ghost of Tom Joad. The Rising peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the US. While not billed as an E Street Band project, it was the first time Bruce had assembled the whole group since they played on his 1987 release Tunnel of Love.
Sounds like: Early Springsteen, Dire Straits, Billy Joel, Okkervil River, Bon Jovi, Arcade Fire, Bob Dylan, The Hold Steady, The Killers
Deeper Thoughts: As the nation searched for a voice in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in NYC, Springsteen emerged with this poignant collection. Reportedly, he got the inspiration for the album a few days after 9/11, when a stranger in a car stopped next to him, rolled down his window and said, “We need you now.” This is an interesting record in many respects, not the least of which is the strange phenomenon that Springsteen clearly still has something to say, but sort of struggles to figure out how that message should sound. Still, “The Rising” was just the single the country needed at this time. “Mary’s Place” hearkens back to the best of early Springsteen tunes like “Rosalita.” “The Fuse” messes around with hip-hop rhythms and vocal loops, and I love the elegiac ballad “You’re Missing.”
The Sonics: I listened to this disc primarily in the car. It tries hard to be a rocker for the first half, but I was kind of disappointed by the lack of balls in the mixes. C’mon Brendan O’Brien! I’m not generally a fan of the “loudness” of a lot of compact discs, but I do like to have a little thump with my mid-range face-wash. Had to boost the low frequencies in the car and on the hifi. The second half of the record is more interesting and has a more balanced sound.