Earlier this year, a reality music competition called The Launch aired on Canadian TV. Contestants The Static Shift confidently announced that “There is a rock revival coming and we’re really excited to be a part of that.” The three-some from Calgary proceeded to blow everyone away with their genuine throwback to ‘70’s rock’n’roll. For someone who grew up on rock and for whom nothing else compares, I sat up and took notice. Could they be right?
Judging by Billboard’s top 100, I’d say no. On the surface, it looks like the same old wasteland. Entertainment headlines are still littered with lip-synching, costume-changing, choreographed-dancing posers. But then I googled the top grossing tours of 2017. Six of the top 10 were old-school rock acts. Which says to me, that the listening audience willing to pay for music were drawn to rock’n’roll more than anything else. Come to think of it, that seems to be mirrored in the local live music venue listings. Yes, there’s a good selection of country, electronic, indie, alternative, funk, etc. But, rock is clearly not dead.
Personally, I’ve been enamoured with a few groups that fit the bill. Edmonton-area band Royal Tusk are the real deal. Everything they do is evocative of everything I love to hear. Ohio outfit Red Sun Rising doesn’t like to be pigeonholed but their sound is exactly what raises my heart rate. They might be newbies, but both Sparrow Blue and Upsidedowntown – more Edmonton bands – are promising to channel true rock vibes.
Some groundwork was clearly laid in conscious expectation. In a digital era, popular bands The Sheepdogs and The Black Keys didn’t accidently choose to be analogue only. They’ve been counter-intuitive for a while already. Then Greta Van Fleet burst onto the scene eschewing anything that sounds like that last 30+ years of popular music. Around the same time, Scottish band The Temperance Movement reminded us of why blues and rock go together like tea and crumpets.
Recently, I’ve been listening the Seattle’s Walking Papers; fuzzy, squawking guitars are front and center, thank you very much. And then there’s been the rebirth of Stone Temple Pilots, whose new album I’m still waiting for on vinyl. Maybe this isn’t so much a revival, an event coming out of nowhere and unexpectedly. Maybe it’s more resurgence, something slowly rising to the surface through deliberate action. Maybe it was inevitable, like an old friend that has been away for too long. Any way you cut it, it seems to be met with eager ears.