New rock music | Stereophile.com

My As We See It column in the November 2021 issue of stereophilic was a sincere expression of regret over my inability to connect with current rock music. It ended with a request for recommendations. I have them. Moreover, most (but not quite) of those who answered found themselves in the same situation: they too had difficulty identifying with current rock’n’roll.

So it seems appropriate to share some of the answers, right here on this page. But first, I’ll jot down a few bands and albums from the past two decades that I really like but failed to mention in this column: Spoon, in particular Transfer; Wilco, in particular Yankee Hotel Foxtrot; TV on the radio, especially Back to Cookie Mountain.

These albums, however, are a bit old, so beyond the scope of my current advocacy, which was for music of the present moment – released, say, in the last few years by bands that weren’t around until a few years before that. Some of the recommendations below violate one or both of these requirements: the band has been around too long or the music isn’t new enough. I decided to include them anyway because they are quite recent and they are good.

I received far too many strong recommendations to include on this page. It’s just a sample, but if it’s on the list, I’ve listened to it, and while I don’t connect to it deeply, I can at least understand its appeal.

Most recommended musical act: Wet Leg, made up of two young women from the Isle of Wight. They don’t have an album yet, just two singles. Both are hilarious and catchy as hell, especially “Chaise Longue”. They’re almost a novelty act, but so was Devo. The B-52s too.

Here’s an excerpt from an email I received from Chris Livengood (who along with his wife, whom he met “in underground punk/hardcore clubs in the 90s”, runs EMBER Audio + Design at Winston -Salem, North Carolina). “There’s so much great shoegaze, post-punk, hardcore and metal worth exploring, but for me the crux has always been that it should be lyrically relatable and make me want to raise my fist or convulse. as well as this aging the body will allow.” Chris recommends Drug Church, especially their LP Applaud and the recent single “Tawny”. Both, writes Chris, “are apparently built from familiar parts, but a recombination with more brains, insight and verve than apparently exist elsewhere”. It ends with “if it doesn’t sound good on your system, head to the car, roll down the windows, drive away and crank it up. This is balm for you, not your gear.” Hear hear.

Jerry Jarvis from Midlothian, Virginia, took an indirect approach to satisfying my request for new music: “Why not try to dig deeper into the Glory Days of artists you already like or even their contemporaries? Like, I’m a big Linda Ronstadt and , and I had a great time finding old Karla Bonoff albums and listening to her originals of many of Linda’s best tracks…. Another great example is Georgie Fame – her transition from rock and skiffle in his early days to the wide variety of jazz he does now is still an enjoyable listen.” Rick Dembicki from Calgary, Alberta, Canada recommends Freedom Fry. “Check out their cover of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’ And yes, I’m old enough to know the original.” Rick also recommends the Montreal Fwonte. “‘Peyi’ is a beautifully crafted – no, almost perfect – three and a half minute marvel, highly danceable. I look ugly when I dance, but I can’t help it when I play the music of that man. ”

Mike Harkins, who is based in Austin, Texas, and therefore has ample opportunity to hear new music, writes, “For a true blues-rock experience, I heartily recommend Carolyn Wonderland’s new release, tempting fate. Carolyn just finished touring with John Mayall, and he’s not hiring flabby guitarists.”

James Price, another Texan—from Galveston—offered these recommendations: “Wooden Fields, S/T; Motorized, Seduction; Mercury Boys, Back to Cinders; Devil Witches, Cherry Napalm; Wool & broken seeds, sick to the bone; nocturnal beats, outlaw R&B.”

Not all who wrote were foreigners. I received the following from Kurt Gottschalk, who, in addition to contributing music reviews to stereophilic, hosts Afternoon New Music Tuesdays at 3 p.m. on WKCR, Columbia University’s excellent radio station. (Yes, there’s an internet radio stream, so check it out.) Kurt writes, “Here’s a sampling of rock albums from 2021 that I’ve enjoyed: Black Midi, Cavalcade; Damn, year of the horse; Great Courageous, Ilk; Melvins, five legged dog; Liturgy, Origin of alimony; Dry cleaning, New long leg; plus Nobro’s new single.”

London-based Phil Brett, another stereophilic music critic, also recommended dry cleaning New long leg. Phil calls Dry Cleaning a “great South London post-punk band” and their new album “Brilliant. Female vocals on a fantastic beat. Worth a watch. Compete with Pharoah Sanders’s promises for the new release of the moment.” Interesting juxtaposition.

I also heard of Jason Davis, who wrote two My Back Pages essays in the past two years. Jason came up with a long list of carefully annotated recommendations, all quite heavy, almost enough for a column on its own. I’ll save most of that for a different time and include just one of his recommendations here. “Heaven for the deaf infinite granite“, he writes, “is my album of the year”.

The Mastodon Scrapbook Silent and sinisterreleased in September, was recommended by several readers.

From Josh Zeckser of Portland, Oregon: “Nova Twins” – you’re welcome! Can I have a free tube amp now, please?”

I’ll end with what might be my favorite email so far: “I’m sending this for my brother Steve. He has a suggestion. Call him on [phone number deleted]8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST before November 1.”