If you’re a little bit bored of the “nu” breed of rock & metal being bandied around at the moment, 2003 could be your year, as the rock & roll crowd of the 21st century is being promised a return to the halcyon decade of… the 1990s.
Rock & Roll Reformations
It almost seems too good to be true as name after name is added to the list of long-overdue reformations and comebacks being made this year. After Brit-rock favourites 3 Colours Red reformed last year for some live shows, the good news continues. James Broad of power pop outfit Silver Sun recently outlined news of a forthcoming new album, which, apparently sounding more like ELO’s ‘Time’ than the Beach Boys-esque début or its glammed up successor, ‘Neo Wave’, may indicate that the band has come of age in its time off, but will still be a welcome return.
Meanwhile, rock & roll veterans The Wildhearts have responded to the industry’s almost criminal lack of interest in their 2001 reformation by releasing a couple of hit singles, and proving with January’s top 20 legend, ‘Stormy In The North – Karma In The South’ (accompanied by a characteristically energetic Top of the Pops performance) that songs with great riffs and melodies are still being penned – it's just that Radio 1 refuses to playlist any of them. More such riffs and melodies can be witnessed on the band’s forthcoming tour with Amen, to promote their new single, ‘So Into You’ (let’s make it top 10), with an LP following some time in the summer. Says frontman Ginger, on his website: “It's going to be a mix of faster rockin' stuff and more melodic songs loaded with riffs. There isn't going to be any ‘filler’, that's for sure.”
Possibly the most surprising news so far, though, is Paul Miro’s announcement that Apes, Pigs and Spacemen – an inventive heavy rock band hailed by Raw and Kerrang! magazines back in the day as the new Wildhearts – have finally escaped the legal snares which forced them to split in the first place and reformed for a new album, ‘Free Pawn’, which should be available in May. Check out their new site here. All of this, along with forthcoming new records from Therapy?, Devin Townsend and the Supersuckers is fast turning 2003 into a year with potential of almost orgiastic proportion for lovers of non-mainstream rock.
Promising new rock from a promising new label
Want to know where to go to find all the new bands riding the current wave of excitement? The Changes One label has been releasing records by such diverse talent as AntiProduct, the Cheesemakers, Darrell Bath and the Gutter Queens since June 2001, but is now coming into its own with the release of its first compilation CD and a series of monthly EPs. The full-length ‘If They Come For Us… Just Keep Playing!’ is not so much a rock & roll taster as a veritable feast of the best that is currently on offer in the genre. Highlights include Bubble’s ‘By and By’, which has all the gorgeous vocal delights and loud guitars of glam rock re-born in the 21st century; the Black Halos’ ‘Radio’ (take the Ramones, throw in a bit of every other great punk & roll act of the last 3 decades and multiply by ten); and Rat Daddy’s ‘One Track Mind’ (an anthemic chorus, the required loud and distorted guitars, and a brass-ridden climax – my definition of Heaven), but this must be the first sampler of its type on which there’s not a single dud track. Every song’s a gem, and will leave you reaching for your wallet and clicking on www.changesone.co.uk in excited anticipation.
Not stopping there, Changes One are also releasing an EP every month for the whole of 2003, featuring such excellent names as those mentioned above, as well as whatever promising bands they happen to come across in their travels. Those travels include a UK showcase tour featuring the likes of Rat Daddy, the Cheesemakers and Neil Leyton, details of which can be found here.
Rock & roll online
Another excellent resource for rock & roll, past and present, is Five Miles High, where fans can find MP3s and photos, plus extensive biographies and discographies of all the promising names in the scene. If Changes One haven’t found them yet, Five Miles High almost certainly have.
All of this is proving that, as the mainstream becomes ever-desperate and image-orientated, there is always an alternative, no matter what your taste. Even the more credible major label acts are trapped by marketing and publicity exercises into a schedule which restricts what they can release and how often they can play. At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have those who have either chosen or been forced to avoid the mainstream. The extent of the contrast is undeniably demonstrated by Kitty Hudson, who, having released a rock & roll classic in January, have promptly stuck the whole lot up for download on their website and told DiS that they plan to release “four albums a year”. The second album is written and being recorded round-about now-ish, and if you can’t wait, then they’re playing regularly in London just about everywhere between Croydon and Camden.
Hopefully readers will forgive my perhaps excessive use of superlatives and hyperbole, but in a year that has already given us so many motivating records, and which not only promises the revival of the best rock bands from the last decade, but also allows you to see the best that the present one has to offer at an intimate venue for less than a fiver, it could well be argued that such linguistic excesses are – for once – entirely justified.