The return of rock: part 1

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By Griffith Fuller

By Griffith Fuller

“Nostalgia” is a word that can be negatively connoted, but under certain circumstances it can be quite beneficial to something such as a movement in music.

What is the signature sound for this generation? We don’t know. Whatever it is, it’s lost in the static of gangster rap and death metal. In the age of Emo/Sreamo bands dominating rock music, one could wonder if there is an alternative outlet of quality music. One might want to hear something that has variation and range, and doesn’t have a redundant sound that bleeds into the sounds of other bands within the genre. One might want to hear vocalists who sing and don’t whine, showing maturity in their voice.

This generation of “hair flopped to one side of the head” music has made a bold statement of what the youth chooses to embrace. A handful of indie bands, such as Interpol, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, and Snow Patrol actually stand out from the bands that copied the sound and ran with it.

But for die-hard rock fans, your prayers have been answered. There are still some bands out there that are not only worth your time and a listen, but they might turn your world upside down. And yes, it’s 21st century rock. Throughout the 1990s there were a handful of really special innovative bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Ben Harper, The Dave Matthews Band and even Incubus. But for the most part modern rock was sounding the same. When rap-metal exploded and gave birth to a whole new MTV generation, then rock really lost its appeal. Teen angst became profitable, and the quality of the music was thrown out of the window.

Of the 21st century there have been bands such as The Mars Volta, Queens of the Stoneage, Muse, Coldplay, The White Stripes, and many more to show us what rock with passion sounds like, whether it ranges from folk to hard rock.

Here are several bands that not only echo the sounds of the Counter-Revolution generation, but attain a great amount of originality in the process of creating their music.

The Mars Volta is a duo made up of Cederic Bixier and Omar Rodriguez, former band members of At The Drive-In. The band made its debut with an EP called Tremulant in 2002 and followed it up with their first full-length album, De-Loused in the Comatorium. Its music is psychedelic metal with influences of jazz and ethnic music from their Puerto Rican background. Its most successful single to date is “The Widow” off of their latest album, Frances The Mute. Tracks such as “L’Via L’Viaquez” are rare from bands of today. As far as creativity and innovation, this band has it all.

Since its debut in 1998 Queens of the Stoneage has proved to be a phenomenal rock band, with haunting back-up crooning and guitar solos that could overturn cars. Songs for the Deaf, released in 2002, is one of the best rock albums ever made. The band recently released an album titled Lullabies to Paralyze.

From Akron, Ohio hails a band that shuts up any punk-pop or emo band with one guitar chord. The Black Keys is the best thing to hit rock since Guns N Roses.

The duo, comprised of singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney, released its debut album The Big Come Up in 2002. Thickfreakness was released in 2003, and Rubber Factory was released last year.

The Black Keys is obviously one of the best bands of this generation, and one of the most overlooked bands of today. It has “king-sized” talent, but hasn’t nearly gotten the type of recognition Led Zeppelin got when it released its debut in 1969.

The Black Keys is an independent band signed to an independent label, so its struggle may be harder. Auerbach’s soulful voice fits perfect with the uninhibited blues-rock that so greatly echoes 1969 Led Zeppelin. “10 AM Automatic” off of Runner Factory is power rock reminiscence of the “good old days,” when rock and roll made you want to twitch as if you’re having a seizure with each note the guitarist hits.

Songs like “The Desperate Man” are echoes of Jimi Hendrix songs. Although their music has a retro appeal, it is original in its own way and absolutely tarnishes the garbage most bands are putting out today.

Death From Above 1979 is quite an ambiguous band when it comes to discussing itself and its history, but they would rather let their music speak for them. And indeed, it does. The band’s music is like a combination of “oldschool” Metallica and Black Sabbath. It’s a bit heavier than The Black Keys, but the quality is certainly equivalent. It’s outstanding track is “Black History Month,” which is optimistic and outspoken.

Another overlooked band worthy of the proper recognition is Clinic. The Liverpool band released its debut album in 1997. The band has had more success in the United Kingdom, toured the United States last year in promotion of its third album Winchester Cathedral. Tracks like “Evil Bill” off of its self-titled debut sounds like 60s folk rock with blues influence. The title track from their 2002 album “Walking With Thee” sounds like a combination of The Doors, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Roxy Music.

Canadian band The Dears released its debut album End Of A Hollywood Bedtime Story in 2000. Its elegant mellow sound could be compared to Belle and Sebastian or founder Murray Lightburn’s inspirator, Morrissey. Its tender emotional yet catchy pop music adds great range to the scale of great rock music made within this generation.

This is the music that will hopefully inspire a future generation of musicians to make quality music.

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