This is the new U2 album:

“Cuts and Bruises”:

Ralph sent me this article from the “Times,” that’s the “Times of London.”:

“INHALER ARE BREATHING EASIER – Eli Hewson (aka Bono’s son) and his bandmates are shaking off the #NepoBaby tagline with their fantastic second album”

Inhaler? Didn’t ring a bell. Bono’s son has a band? I probably saw that somewhere, but unlike with actors, rock progeny never seem to exceed their progenitors. But I’m reading the article and the writer Dan Cairns is referencing everybody who tried and didn’t quite get there, from Julian Lennon to Sting’s kids to Pixie Geldof, and then I was further intrigued, this guy had perspective, this wasn’t just pure hype.

So I decided to play it.

It was rock.

Rock is in the doldrums for many reasons. First and foremost because it’s not a new sound, and when you pull up this Inhaler album that’s one thing you’ll notice, it’s not breaking new ground, and then however much you might hate hip-hop or electronic music, you’ll give these newer styles of music credit for moving forward, pushing the envelope. Second because rock is based on energy, a feeling, best experienced at a sweaty gig. However, that paradigm has taken a hit in the modern era, where everybody and everything is available online. Sure, concerts are burgeoning, but to a great degree they’re just replicas of the record, they are not separate, breathing things, at least not at the top level. So the magic is gone. I mean how much magic is there in wearing a leather motorcycle jacket?

Not that there are not acts making rock music. But the starting point is not the Beatles, but Metallica. Something edgier, more intense, often fast, frequently with screaming vocals and…there is a market for this, but it’s far from everybody. In other words, Active Rock is a backwater.

So I’m listening to the opening cut on the album, “Just to Keep You Satisfied,” and the weird thing is…I immediately get it, I don’t want to turn it off. Which is strange in today’s day and age. But as it plays out, I realize it’s somewhat familiar. First and foremost because Eli Hewson’s vocals sound very close to those of his famous father, Bono. It’s not exactly like U2, if for no other reason than the groove, but it’s got the same intensity…

Eureka! That’s it! These guys are playing like they mean it, like they have something to prove, like they and their music can make a difference, change the world. Which is positively retro in an era where acts are a brand and the music is just a stepping stone to an empire of endorsements and clothing and perfume… The music wasn’t about a look, it stood alone.

And I’m listening and it starts to become hypnotic, the guitars don’t sound exactly like the Edge and I continue to marvel that I’m not stopping it, which is the case with most new music, there’s more of it, but finding the good stuff is nearly impossible.

So I start to research. Yes, Inhaler’s first and second albums did debut at #1 in Ireland. But that’s Ireland, a small country where Bono is God. But it was true that the first album debuted at #1 on the U.K. chart and the second at #2. Well, novelty works the first time around, but the second?

And the numbers reveal what I believed, Inhaler means nothing in America, it’s like they don’t even exist. I didn’t miss something, there was nothing to see. There were a few cuts on AAA, with chart positions of 14, 15 and 28, but that’s like having a middle of the night show on Newsmax, the host is thrilled, but there’s no real impact.

Now just to make sure I wasn’t missing something, I pulled up the Mediabase charts, and “Love Will Get You There,” from Inhaler’s new album, is now at #15 on the AAA chart. Sounds impressive until you look what’s above it. Do you know Lone Bellow, Joe P, Three Sacred Souls, White Reaper, Beach Weather, the Heavy Heavy? Maybe if you’re in the AAA world.

So I went to Spotify. Lone Bellow’s song “Honey,” #4 on the AAA chart, has 2,432,866 streams. There are 36 cuts on Morgan Wallen’s new album “One Thing at a Time,” and the track with the fewest number of streams, “Outlook,” is #35 in the running order, and it’s got 7,653,113 streams.

I’m not passing artistic judgment. I’m just saying that the impact of terrestrial radio, in this case AAA radio, on music consumption, is miniscule.

I don’t want to beat up on AAA radio, it’s doing a great job of exposing new music, it’s just that other than diehard listeners…it’s not minting stars. It’s getting acts started, but where do they go from there, how do they get noticed?

As for the Active Rock and Alternative charts… To a great degree you see the usual suspects, acts who’ve been on the scene for years, in some cases decades, and others most people have never ever heard of. AAA is doing a better job of featuring new music than they are.

But they’re all backwaters.

Can we all agree that terrestrial radio is a dying enterprise that does deliver some exposure, but only a faction of what it once did? It’s like being on the Yahoo homepage, not even that good. MySpace instead of TikTok. It’s not serving the music world.

Which brings us back to this Inhaler album.

It’s not breaking new ground, but as it slips from track to track…I want to let it play, which is extremely rare. And I realize if I continue to play it the songs will grow on me, they’ll penetrate, and I’ll want to see the band and will go to the show and thrust my arm in the air.


So what I’m yearning for is a new sound. But how come this old sound works overseas and not here? Is it the smaller countries, the prevalent press?

Now if you’re over forty, “Cuts and Bruises” will be the best thing you’ve heard all year. Not only will you play it, you’ll play it again, and tell your friends about it, the same way I’m doing here. That’s the essence, do you want to tell people about it? That’s what happened to me. I was reading news for two hours, many things stimulated me, but when I opened this package from Ralph and read this article and played Inhaler’s music the first thing I thought was…I’ve got to tell people about this! I was excited. Yes, the record was flawed in that it didn’t break any ground and the sound was familiar, but it was a pleasurable listening experience, more than that, a vital listening experience, it wasn’t the background music that dominates today, or the soulless, trying to be meaningful dreck that slips right off of us who’ve been there and done that, were alive when music was king, not streaming television.

Maybe if Inhaler doesn’t extend the brand. Doesn’t do social media. Survives on the music alone… Maybe that’s the essence of keeping the magic intact, allowing rock to survive. Because really, the genre feels out of step and out of time. But if you were there then, you still have a hankering for it.

And Inhaler delivers. 

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