What's New?

by Rick Rockwell

“Hey, can you recommend something new to me?”

Usually, that’s a rather innocuous request. But when it passes from one middle-aged rocker to another, it can be a conversation stopper. However, that’s what my best friend was asking this year.

“A band that’s as promising as Green Day, maybe?”

Where do you go to look for such information these days with FM radio as bad as its ever been? A thought that a look at the magazine rack at the local bookstore might help also was a disappointing venture in the search for something new. Who was staring back from the covers of the key music magazines? Pink Floyd. Led Zeppelin. Elvis Costello. Surely, this has to do with the fact Baby Boomers are more likely to want to buy magazines, but it was instructive that newer bands don't move magazine buyers, instead its the same folks who were headliners when the middle aged were in college.

Sure, there was Audioslave, also peering out from the magazine rack. That’s a band I’ve liked from its inception. It helped that their lead singer Chris Cornell headed up one of my favorite grunge bands, Soundgarden. And with some searching, in the back of the rack, there was Avenged Sevenfold on the cover of a magazine appealing to musicians. Avenged Sevenfold is definitely from this century and carries the heavy metal banner strongly, but they weren't exactly new either, having a short list of releases to their credit.

So what did I recommend to my friend? The White Stripes. Sure, they aren’t new either, but 2003’s Elephant is great for someone who likes stripped down garage rock and punk bands. And they weren’t playing the White Stripes or anything like them on the radio where he lives in Texas.

This could be why some have pronounced rock as a dead, a lifeless musical form: it is hard to find anything new and interesting. However, if you look hard enough, rock reveals it isn’t dead only that the methods of finding its true pulse are a bit atrophied.


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