When people today talk about the future of rock music, they generally talk about 4 bands, and 4 bands only; The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Hives, and The Vines. This Fantastic Four of Retro Rock have been grouped together and compared to each other millions of times, because, many hope, they will save rock from the stale rut it has worked itself into, due to years of bland rap-metal and pop dilution. The problem this has, however, is twofold; People are not able to distinguish these four very different bands together, and they are not prepared for the other hot new bands out there that need to be recognized to bring this movement from a movement to a genre. I will try to answer both problems in this article.
THE FANTASTIC FOUR
Frontman: Julian Casablancas.
Location: New York
Signature Record: Is this it?
The Strokes were the first to appear on modern rock radar. Many people were surprised at the attention this band got, because they were so different from the popular rock music of a year ago. Their music is energetic but polished, blending simple, bright guitar riffs, semi techno beats and the slightly distorted vocals of Julian to create a sparse, lo-fi sound. They bring a lot of their home city, New York, into their music. Due to their upper class background, they are a general class act.
The White Stripes.
Frontman: Jack White
Signature Record: White Blood Cells
The White Stripes have been a fixture of the Detroit independent scene for years, but the attention The Strokes got attracted radio attention. Out of the four, they have the most real retro-indie cred. With ex-wife Meg White banging on the drums, Jack plays loud and abrasive rock guitar, influenced by folk music and classic Detroit Rock. On their record, they can be catchy, as in Hotel Yorba, dramatic, as in The Union Forever, or just really loud, as in Fell In Love With a Girl.
Frontman: Howlin Pelle Almqvist
Signature Record: Veni Vidi Vicious.
After the success of The Strokes and The White Stripes, there was a huge empty space waiting for the next big band in the trend. The Hives filled it and more; their single “Hate to Say I told you so” is shredding through Top 40, and they are poised to become the most popular of the four. Their Euro-punk attitude is almost tongue in cheek, declaring, “The Hives are Law, You are Crime” and “We are Your New Favorite Band.”
Their music is a delicate balance of methodical formula and searing spontaneity, playing shamelessly pop songs and adding overdistorted guitar and a hyperactive frontman.
Frontman: Craig Nicholls
Signature Record: Highly Evolved.
The Vines have so much word of mouth going for them it could deafen you. These four former Mcdonalds workers from Australia have been compared to everyone from The Who to Nirvana, and more people look upon them than anyone else as “the savior of rock” This is probably way over exaggerated; their style is the most generic of the four, providing simple, punchy songs perfect for Modern Rock Radio. Frontman Nicholls is supposedly completely insane, screaming incoherently during songs, and the bandmates smash their guitars with ecstatic fervor.
THE NEXT BIG THING
Watch for these buzz bands:
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
This New York punk band has toured with both the strokes and the white stripes. When their CD comes out, prepare for the first female band of the movement.
Los Angeles band whose getting a lot of buzz for their old school punk stylings and Courtney Love soundalike singer, Brodie Armstrong.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Another Los Angeles retro band, more willing to delve into softer, more melodic and emotional music than other similar bands.
The International Noise Conspiracy
Division of Laura Lee
Both these bands are from the super hot Swedish Rock Scene. INC has a very political focus, while DOLL, like the Hives, are very garage-punkish.
This strange indie band has also been getting buzz out of their armpits. Super-reverbed songs and puzzling lyrics are the hallmark of The Shins.
Not a new band by any means, Wilco has just released their opus album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and I’m predicting the album will be their plane ticket to success.