STRIPPING OFF THE SYNTHS AND LETTING SOMETHING RAW BLEED THROUGH
The UK have been a major player in the electronic and dance scenes, bringing us some of the world’s biggest DJs and producers of the genre. The UK charts are filled with hits from the likes of Disclosure, Duke Dumont, Katy B and many more. The nation has proven to be much more open to the sounds of house music on the charts then the American counterpart. While there are the extremes of UK Garage, House and Dance music on the radio, the same can be said for the other extreme; classic Rock. Now when I say Rock, I don’t mean Nickleback, or anything that can fit into a post-Grunge genre. I mean artists and bands that hark back to the original concept of Rock ’n’ Roll. Songs filled with basic instrumentation, howling voices of pain and lust, authentic lyrics with true reflection involved in their creation, I’m talking about the original idea of Rock. An organic outlet filled with instruments you can touch, with lyrics you can feel.
Let us begin with arguably the biggest Rock band in the UK today: The Arctic Monkeys. A group that has risen from Garage-Rock and lo-fi sounds to become a powerhouse on the radio and charts in the Queen’s nation. Their latest record is there most pop-oriented yet, but also their cleanest and most comfortable. ‘AM’ is a record made by a Rock band ready to claim the title of Rockstars. While bands like Arcade Fire has hopped onto trends to gain this status (James Murphy production is very ‘in’ right now isn’t it?) the Arctic Monkey’s sound completely organic in their change towards a sound relatable to the general public. The songs are brief, to-the-point tracks lusting over girls and completing the in’s and out’s of love. “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” is an excellent example as the band examines their own intentions with a lover and being confronted with the title of the song. A simple enough concept for a song that could be made in any age sonically, but with a modern touch, only this generation of iPhone users really knows what its like to be contacted so easily whilst in a state of intoxication. The band’s story of wanting and rejection is one we all know. It is a message clearly said with simple lyrics and simpler music; a basic structure, guitar, drums and bass.
Speaking of young generations, two new men on the charts have demonstrated a success based on old school rock songs. The first being John Newman, a 23 year old who has found success on Dance tracks by Rudimental, but is most at home over big pianos, bigger drums and a few horns just for the hell of it. Newman’s voice brings to mind Otis Redding at times, a rasp that can belt out a hook that one can not ignore. While his production is more cluttered then that of the Arctic Monkeys, there is still an element of classic Rock that cant be dismissed. ‘Tribute,’ Newman’s debut album, is grand, comparable to the work of Adele at times. An artist who can easily blend the worlds of Rock, Jazz, Soul and Pop. The voice of Newman is remarkable, allowing him to be whoever he wants musically. He brings a sound that is heard less and less, except for the likes of Adele, a genuine vocalist who chooses to fill his soundscape with true instrumentation.
The other young artist referencing multiple genres but easily categorized as Rock ’n’ Roll man is King Krule. The 19 year old would’ve fit in well during the days of classic Punk. Dirty vocals that don’t attempt to be in tune remain constant throughout his debut ‘6 Feet Beneath the Moon’. Punk, Jazz and Rock have influenced King Krule, establishing himself as a contemporary of artists such as Lou Reed, Morrissey, Tom Waits and The Pixies. He emotes in an honest characterization that keeps the ear intrigued throughout the ramblings of his suburban London life. He embodies a genuine UK-mentality through his rough but melodic songs and through his equally interesting aesthetics. The video for ‘Easy Easy’ demonstrates a taste of being 19 in the suburbs of London. Krule’s honesty and transparency, similar to Amy Winehouse, will be his best quality.
Lastly, although yet to reach the heights the boys in this article have conquered, Fear of Men is a band on the rise that should be noted for bringing a female rock perspective to the table. Fear of Men will release their debut, ‘Loom’, on April 22nd. Their lush songs of love and hate bring blissful summer days to mind. Their gorgeous lyrics and mystic warmth recall that of the Cranberries. I think it’s about damn time we had a contemporary to the Cranberries in the mainstream, don’t you? Well hopefully Fear of Men continue their streak of genius with songs like the single “Luna” or early tracks “Mosaic” “Born” and “Your Side”.
Obviously this is the tip of iceberg for what is coming out of the UK in regards to Rock. We hear so much about the electronic scenes of James Blake, Disclosure, Rudimental, etc when discussing what the Brits are listening to, but they have celebrated more organic rock and punk music lately then America has in years. The output of raw artistry, of brutal lyrics and unique vocals, is an exciting display of how the Brits can always make space for those young and talented.