Every few years, the chorus of naysayers come out to chant to the death of rock ' roll. It may be a loud chorus, or inaudible whispers, but over the past 20 years, rock 'n roll music has seen its share of death notices. And yet, it keeps coming back to score more wins.
Maybe more accurately, rock music has splintered in so many directions that a general overrriding sound of 'rock 'n roll music' no longer exists. That notion probably has merit. But in splintering, rock 'n roll music has become greater than the original sum of its participants. It's no longer verse, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, nor is it any longer based on the old blues formula of I-V-VII.
Today's rock music is international, it's loud, it's aggressive, it's occasionally still melodic, and it's revisionist. Bands who were ignored 20 years ago are now seeing a second coming of interest from new fans via the original fans (parents of the new fans, often). Strummed guitars may no longer be the overriding instrument, and repeated choruses to stick in your brain may be passe.
The '00s have not been kind to rock music. Girl pop, indie folk, death metal and other sub-sub-sub genres of 'popular music' have tended to overwhelm good ol' rock 'n roll. Do you wonder why the 20 year anniversary of Nirvana's 'Nevermind' was so big last fall? Many rock fans see that as one of the last great heights taken with modern rock.
And yet, while in new musical-sounding environments, today's popular hits still sound like old chord structures turned inside out for mass consumption. And that bodes well for today's up-n-commers playing loud guitars, bashing the drums and stumbling on the bass. Rock 'n roll was always about youthful excitement manifesting into sound. And if the under-the-radar bands are still willing to cope with the poor economic trajectory of their chosen 'career' path to bring us their artful passions, , then we should be thankful for that.
So who are the up-n-comer bands in rock 'n roll today? We asked around, checked our hitlists and sniffed the air to come up with a list that may not be all-encompassing, but rather spirited in direction for today's young bands worth checking out.
Five above the radar bands first:
- Foo Fighters: You cannot deny leader Dave Grohl's devotion to the craft he has spent his entire life playing. His enthusiasm, chords, energy and reverence to older rockers is super genuine and is reflected in the band's songs and existence.
- The Darkness: Yes, the operative rockers from the UK are back in 2012 and touring. Some may sneer, but The Darkness have always back up their songs with big-rock ambitions and live they bring it.
- The Black Keys: This duo has risen from blues-based origins and banging out their craft in shitty clubs all over the US to gain a following that is huge. Hint: Black keys have hit the cover of Rolling Stone are are headlining Coachella.
- The Arctic Monkeys: The quirky, aggressive British rockers have been nominated for a slew of British music awards, are hugely popular in England, and will storm the stage at Coachella this spring.
- Radiohead: This spacey quartet continue to rock along on their own muse, with nary a thought to trends in the music world or shifting fan sensibilities. For that, you got to give them props.
Five below the radar bands:
- Big Troubles: a shimmery, big sounding band from the heartland of indie rock (aka Brooklyn). Good tunes, cool sounds and a big sound make Big troubles a band to watch. http://bigtroubles.bandcamp.com/
- The Soft Pack: The Soft Pack (San Diego) combine a thrilling rush of propulsive energy with everyman lyrics to create a tasty concoction of rock. http://www.facebook.com/thesoftpack
- Bass Drum of Death: A couple of guys who love scuzzy, garage rock 'n roll with the looks and sound to make a splash in your city during 2012. http://bassdrumofdeath.blogspot.com/
- Towns: A British combo that plays big guitars and Gallagher Brothers-inspired vocals. http://www.townsband.co.uk/
- DOM: This Worcester, Mass band plays it hot and heavy - Propulsive rhythms, sunken vocals and a thrilling sound makes DOM a contender for bigger things this year. http://www.facebook.com/Domband