While there is always going to be a home for well done, mega pop records like Justin Timberlake's "Future Sex/Love Sounds", which is selling like hotcakes, it is also nice to see record labels rediscovering good old rock and roll. The rock scene hype has been dominated the last few years by emo and alt rock bands like Panic! at the Disco, Death Cab for Cutie and the Arctic Monkeys. While these bands are all great, it is refreshing to hear a bit of a trend in the "roots rock" direction. After all, it is bands like the Rolling Stones and other "straight ahead" rock performers who laid the ground work all those years ago. The new rock bands are not necessarily a return to the classic rock of the 60s and 70s, but their nods to the past bring a distinctive retro feel to modern rock radio. Here is a quick rundown on four key bands bringing the rock back:
Fueled by their love of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Drive-By Truckers have been offering swampy, guitar-heavy odes of Southern pride for nearly a decade. Led by the guitar triumvirate of Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley and Jason Isbell, the Drive-By Truckers have grown from a ragged country-tinged band to one of the progenitors of the alt-country genre. While Decoration Day and The Dirty South demonstrate the Truckers at their grittiest, it's their double CD opus Southern Rock Opera that captures them at their finest.
Kings Of Leon
King Of Leon, a family band from Tennessee comprised of brothers Nathan, Caleb and Jared Followill and their cousin Matthew, are probably best known for their high profile opening gigs for The Strokes and U2. However, before touring stadiums, the three brothers earned their chops barnstorming with their father on the Southern-revival circuit. Known for working their various neuroses into their music, they've created a unique style all their own with their garage/hillbilly style dubbed "Lynyrd Strokes" by some writers.
My Morning Jacket
The past twelve months have truly been My Morning Jacket's breakthrough year. Although they had a setback when complications from pneumonia shelved singer Jim James, causing them to cancel a series of shows, including a big New Year's Eve date with the Black Crowes, they rebounded for the summer tour circuit. In addition to playing one of the transcendent sets at this year's Bonnaroo Festival, they drew people to arenas early while opening for Pearl Jam. Echoing Neil Young at his psychedelic peak, MMJ has managed to become a favorite on the jamband scene while successfully crossing over into mainstream rock radio.
Originally signed to Epic Records, the band recently found a new home on the Zoe/Rounders label. The Damnwells are one of the latest bands to emerge from Brooklyn, New York. But, unlike many of the "indie buzz" bands from that area, their "hip" factor is significantly outweighed by stellar songwriting and musicianship. On Air Stereo, their latest album, they demonstrate an interesting versatility conveying Tom Petty type warmth, while at times channeling Trent Reznor's restrained fury. This fall they will also get to show their stuff to wider audiences, playing a series of dates with The Fray as well as The Dixie Chicks. I caught them live a couple of weekends ago and they are clearly worthy of this lofty company.