I try not to be one of those "back in my day" people, constantly telling the younger generation just how much better life was before they came along and ruined everything. But when it comes to the state of music, it's hard not to be nostalgic for what used to rule the airwaves and more than a little sad for the direction music has gone.
Do you remember rock music? It was a huge category that was open to so many variations, all united in the idea that music should be personal, intense, meaningful and liberating. It wasn't defined by song length or instrumentation, by geography or experiences, by age, gender or ethnicity. It was music that moved you, that spoke to you, that made you angry or happy or depressed. It was defined by its lack of rules and its lack of limitations.
But that's not what is ruling music today. Now it's pop and hip hop and hip pop -- prepackaged, overly controlled, prefabricated music that is as interchangeable as it is forgettable. I miss guitar solos and songs that go on forever and lyrics that give me pause. I liked going to concerts and knowing that the live version was going to be different from the recorded, that music wasn't static and perfect but a living thing. There wasn't going to be a backing track to make sure that the audience got what they'd heard fifteen times a day on their local radio station.
So I'll try to introduce what is new in this genre in the hope that we can support what may be a dying art form. If you like what you hear, click on the link, buy the music, support it. Money rules the music business, like every other business, and if there are buyers there will be more product. If, instead, only Pop sells, then guess what you'll be hearing more of?
My Chemical Romance has a new album out "Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys" and I think it's even stronger than their last one. Here's a video of the second single off the album, Sing:
Neon Trees are a throwback to the New Wave sound, but since they have covered Justin Bieber, it's hard to think of them as truly alternative. They released their album "Habits" earlier this year and the first song off of it is very catchy. It's called Animal:
One of the few "rock" acts nominated in a general Grammy category was Mumford & Sons. Their debut album Sigh No More has received critical praise and attention. They're more folk-rock, a la CSN&Y, and they have a banjo for heaven's sake. Here's their top ten single Little Lion Man
Let's look at this week's Billboard charts under the category "Rock" music. Number one, Stone Sour with Say You'll Haunt Me:
Stone Sour is fronted by the former lead singer of Slipknot. They also had this song, which you may have heard, Through Glass.
Next up is Tighten Up by The Black Keys:
Number three this week is, fittingly, Three Days Grace with World So Cold:
There are hundreds of unsigned bands out there, practicing, writing, playing, trying to keep the music alive. Here's a link to the MySpace page of one of these up and coming bands, named after one of my favorite movies, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. I hate to sum up a band in just a few words, but they remind me of Counting Crows (with a little less angst). The first song of theirs I heard I really liked. It's called Landslides
Rock music is out there. Thirty Seconds to Mars, Linkin Park, Kings of Leon, Cake, Broken Bells, Florence & the Machine, Tired Pony, Bruce Springsteen. Even The Smashing Pumpkins have a new song out. Don't give up on rock. Listen to it, support it. Keep Neil Young's promise alive: Rock'n'Roll will never die.