Rock n’ Roll ain’t dead (just yet)!
It’s 2011, a time when mainstream Pop music, Hip Hop and R&B continue to rule the charts along with a small, non-threatening helping of polite rock music such as Coldplay to keep company. But it seems like old school hard rock or even guitar oriented classic rock is still not completely dead, despite gasping for breath underneath the weight of your Lady Gagas, Justin Biebers, Katy Perrys and Black Eyed Peas.
There has been a handful of rock albums in the recent past and they have not all been duds either. Neither do they come off as embarrassing attempts to reclaim some long lost glory. The most recent one is ‘Wasting Light’ by Foo Fighters. The Foo Fighters have of course been kind of a mainstream rock band throughout, winning Grammys, being played on MTV and so on… sorry MTV doesn’t play music, my bad. Anyway, you get the point. This latest album though, sounds like it was created to win back old fans. It is a pretty tight set of songs that rock as hard as anything on their first or second albums. Apparently, it was literally recorded in Dave Grohl’s garage as opposed to the band’s studio. As a result, the album sounds rawer than usual and rocks harder than most made-for-the-charts hit singles nowadays. Good for them! Personally, I liked most of the album, not all of it. But it is such a refreshing change to hear brutal hard rock and punk riffs in an era of inane lyrics and candy coated melodies.
Then there was Slash’s album last year… Who?… That’s right! Slash of Guns n’ Roses fame came back, believe it or not! After releasing only a couple of albums with his own band Snakepit over a period of 15 years or so, he came back in 2010 with a self titled album filled with guest singers galore! And it is a really nice effort, I must say. I have to admit something embarrassing here. I only even heard of this album recently, because I was Google-searching and wondering if the old curly haired, top hat wearing rock n’ roll stud was up to anything at all. The best thing about this album (titled ‘Slash’ with subtitle R&FN’R for obvious reasons) is that the guy has managed to bring vocalists as varied as Ozzy Osbourne, Chris Cornell and Lemmy to Fergie, Adam Levine and Kid Rock all under one roof; and the end result does not sound like a discordant mess at all. I never thought I would say this, to be honest, but Fergie actually sounds totally badass on this record! The same cannot be said for the weirdly un-manly voice of Maroon 5’s Adam Levine but it doesn’t matter. The whole package along with Slash’s guitar actually sounds halfway decent. Heck, this album definitely sounds more cohesive than Chinese Democracy by Guns… I mean, Axl and his huge posse.
Then, moving on to classic rock, we had R.E.M. earlier this year delivering a damn good and cheerful album in ‘Collapse Into Now’. It contained just about the best mix of old and new sounds that one can realistically expect from this geriatric band of nerdy college rockers at this point in their career. Roughly two years before that (God! Has it been that long already??), their more-mainstream musical brothers, U2 put out yet another album that sounded excellent on the first few listens but in hindsight showed that Bono & Co continue to straddle that fence between reliving former glories and staying relevant for today’s kids.
But I digress. Surely, somebody like Slash coming out with an album in 2010 is much more news-worthy than bands like U2 and R.E.M. which have more or less been on the radar over the last 15 years or so. Oh, and I forgot Metallica’s ‘Death Magnetic’ from 2008. Anyway, my overall point remains. Old school ‘rawk’ music is still alive and kicking and I couldn’t be happier. 😉