My column as we see it in the November 2021 issue of Stereophile was a sincere expression of regret for my inability to connect with current rock music. It ended with a request for recommendations. I have them. Additionally, most (but not quite) of those who responded found themselves in the same situation: they too found it difficult to relate to most rock ‘n’ roll today.
So it seems appropriate to share some of the answers, right here on this page. But first, I’m going to jot down a few bands and albums from the past two decades that I really like but failed to mention in this review: Spoon, in particular Transfer; Wilco, in particular Yankee Hotel Foxtrot; television on the radio, in particular Back to Cookie Mountain.
These albums, however, are a bit old, so beyond the scope of my current plea, which was for the music of the present moment ?? released, say, in the last few years by bands that weren’t around until a few years before that. Do any of the recommendations below violate one or both of these requirements? The band has been around too long or the music isn’t recent enough. I decided to include them anyway because they are quite recent and they are good.
I have received far too many strong recommendations to include them 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 care deeply about it, I can at least understand its appeal.
Most frequently recommended musical act: Wet Leg, composed of two young women from the Isle of Wight. They don’t have an album yet – just two singles. Both are hilarious and catchy, especially “Chaise Longue”. It’s almost a novelty act, but so was Devo. The B-52s too.
Here is 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 in Winston -Salem, North Carolina). “There is so much supershoegaze, post-punk, hardcore, and metal worth exploring, but a crux for me has always been that it has to be lyrically relatable and make me want to raise my fist or convulse as well. that this aging the body will allow. ” Chris recommends Drug Church, especially their LP Applaud and the recent single “Tawny”. The two, Chris writes, “are apparently built from familiar parts, but a recombination with more brain, insight and wit than apparently exists elsewhere.” It ends with, “If that doesn’t sound good on your system, walk over to the car, roll down the windows, drive away and get on. It’s balm for you, not for your gear.” Hear hear.
Jerry Jarvis of Midlothian, Virginia took a roundabout approach to meeting my demand for new music: “Why not try to dig deeper into Glory Days from artists you already love or even their contemporaries? For example, I’m a great 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? variety of jazz he does now is always an enjoyable listening. “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 Fwonte from Montreal.” ‘Peyi’ is a beautifully crafted – no, almost perfect – three and a half minute wonder, highly dancing wonder. I look ugly when I dance, but I can’t help myself when I play this music 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 wholeheartedly recommend the new version of Carolyn Wonderland, Tempt fate. Carolyn just got off tour with John Mayall, and he’s not hiring slumped guitarists. ”
James Price, another Texan ?? from Galveston ?? offered these recommendations: “Wooden Fields, S / T; Motorizer, Seduction; Mercury boys, Return to Ashes; Witches of the devil, Napalm Cherry; Laino & Broken Seeds, Sick to the bone; Night beats, Outlaw R&B. ”
Not all of those who wrote were strangers. I have received the following from Kurt Gottschalk, who in addition to contributing music reviews to Stereophile, hosts new afternoon music Tuesdays at 3 p.m. on WKCR, Columbia University’s premier radio station. (Yes, there is an internet radio stream, so check it out.) Kurt writes: “Here is a sample of 2021 rock albums that I enjoyed: Black Midi, Cavalcade; Shit, 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. ”
Phil Brett, based in London, another Stereophile music critic, also recommended Dry Cleaning New long leg. Phil calls Dry Cleaning a “great post-punk band from South London” and their new album “Brilliant. Voices spoken by women to a fantastic beat. Worth a visit. Competing with Pharoah Sanders’s Promises for the new release of the moment. ”Interesting juxtaposition.
I have also heard from Jason Davis, who has written two essays on My Back Pages in the past two years. Jason offered a long list of carefully annotated recommendations, all quite heavy, almost sufficient for a column on its own. I’ll save most of this for a different time and only include one of his recommendations here. “Deaf and dumb Infinite granite“, he wrote,” is my album of the year “.
Mastodon’s album Calm and sinister, released in September, was recommended by several readers.
From Josh Zeckser from Portland, Oregon: “Nova Twins” ?? you’re Ost welcome ! Can I have a free tube amp now, please? “Sure you can? Wait, you meant me? No, sorry.
I’ll end with what is perhaps my favorite email so far: “I’m sending this for my brother Steve. He has a suggestion. Call him at [phone number deleted]8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST before November 1. ”