What rock music needs right now is more gateway bands. When I was a kid, I never would've heard of or cared about Sonic Youth or Fugazi or Guided by Voices had it not been for the alt-rock bands I heard on the radio and saw on MTV. The popular bands connected me with the less popular bands. In 1984, when Born in the U.S.A. put Bruce Springsteen on the same level as Michael Jackson and Prince, a rock fan could go from the Boss to R.E.M.'s Reckoning to the Replacements' Let It Be to Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade to Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime to Black Flag's My War.
It's a different world for today's 13-year-olds. But even now, casual music fans still listen to the radio and discover new artists via televised performances on middle-of-the-road award shows. The most successful rock band of the '10s, Mumford & Sons, arguably had the biggest break of their career when they upstaged Bob Dylan at the 2012 Grammy awards. Maybe those young Mumford fans are now on a path that will eventually take them to Will Oldham, Mark Kozelek, Townes Van Zandt, and Leonard Cohen.
When I said earlier that indie has failed rock and roll, this is what I meant: Indie bands haven't done enough to compete. The status quo in indie rock these days is to make records aimed directly at upper-middle-class college graduates living in big cities. Only a small handful of indie bands attempt to reach listeners who aren't already on the team; even the really good records reside firmly in a familiar wheelhouse of tastefully arty and historically proven "college rock" aesthetics and attitudes that mean nothing to the outside world. The distance is also geographic: If you want to see most indie bands play live, it helps if you reside in New York City or Los Angeles, because the bands probably live there, too. Otherwise, you have to hope that your city — and by "your city," I mean a city within a couple hundred miles of where you live — is one of the 15 to 20 stops on the band's tour.
If you happen to be part of the audience that rock music used to cater to — if you work an unsexy job in an unsexy town in an unsexy part of the country — you're not really invited to the party anymore. Which is OK, because there's still a form of rock music that's made for you, it's just not called rock music — it's called country. One of the best-selling country records of the last few years is Eric Church's Chief, and one of that record's biggest songs is "Springsteen," which is about the ability of rock music to signify the most crucial moments of a person's life. When was the last time a rock song talked about that? Chief is precisely the sort of heartland rock record that people like Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Bob Seger made into a viable commercial genre in the '70s and '80s. It's not that people stopped wanting records like that; rock bands just lost interest in making them.
anyway, there's a lot more there, but I wondered what y'all's thoughts were on the decline of mainstream rock and whether indie bands aren't "hungry" enough?
quote:gaslight anthem's early stuff is basically a shrine for springsteen, tom waits, tom petty, etc. those are artists i knew, but only on a surface/pop value. there are still plenty of bands that make you go down the rabbit hole, so to speak.
One of the best-selling country records of the last few years is Eric Church's Chief, and one of that record's biggest songs is "Springsteen," which is about the ability of rock music to signify the most crucial moments of a person's life. When was the last time a rock song talked about that?
Stephen Hyden has been writing a largely excellent series on Grantland called the Winner's History of Rock n Roll, in which he looks at the most popular rock acts and what the hell happened to rock radio
As much as it pains me to say it, we may just be entering a "post rock" era of music
quote:Pretentious faux fan frick. 13 year olds of that era didn't listen to any of those bands (except for Springsteen's 'borned in 'merrika' on the radio, maybe).
It's a different world for today'13-year-olds.
quote:is it that bad? i RARELY (less than once a month and generally only for a moment) turn it on because my vehicle's stereo system is hooked into my ipod. if a song comes on i'm not in the mood for, i find one that i want to hear. i take my iphone in the gym, i have my laptop at home. any song i want to hear, i can hear.
I'm more interesting in why rock has largely disappeared from the radio.