When we think of Rock & Roll, bands like The Doors, Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones come to mind. Others think of Pink Floyd, Elvis Presley, The Beatles or Velvet Underground. Whichever band comes to mind, Rock & Roll changed music forever.
Earlier this month, Gene Simmons of KISS told Esquire magazine that “Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered.” Later he concluded that “Rock is finally dead.” Although I see what the rock god is saying, I respectfully disagree.
Over the last few weeks, hundreds of albums have made their way through the doors of WGRE. We receive albums that fit into the genre of “college radio”—meaning indie music. Indie pop and indie rock make up most of the albums, but many are electronic or folk. Every once in a while, we receive a great rock album from the hardworking promoters.
Simmons believes rock is dead but rock still is there. It is different, it has evolved, but it is not dead. When rock first began, it derived from country music and blues. What some may consider the classic-rock era to the be the genre's glory days, rock took many forms after that. Once KISS put on their makeup, Twisted Sister has been dressing like tall blondes and Bon Jovi was showing off his hair. Van Halen started karate kicking across the stage and Axel Rose was on another whistle solo. Before it was about rocking out on the electric guitar, not about performing a whole act.
In the last decade, rock has undergone another evolution. No longer do we see bands dolled up before shows; now it's back to the music. Rock has constantly changed since its birth and many bands are still releasing amazing rock albums.
Some of the best new rock albums include Ty Segall’s “Manipulator,” Sloan’s “Commonwealth,” Conor Oberst’s “Upside Down Mountain,” Royal Blood’s self-titled album, The Orwells’ “Disgraceland,” Greyhounds’ “Accumulator,” and The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (or The GOASTT)’s “Midnight Sun.”
All of these albums were released in 2014 and they each play a different part in rock’s saga. Royal Blood and The Orwells are both geared towards punk rock, while The GOASTT and Greyhounds embody blues-rock and the sounds of the sixties. Conor Oberst gives his heart to folk rock, and Sloan jams out on guitar. The Black Keys, Jack White, King Tuff, OFF!, The Black Angels, The War On Drugs, JD Wilkes, Japandroids, Beck, Derek Trucks and Foxy Shazam all rock out. Rock is not dead.
Rock will never be what it was before; it will constantly evolve and develop into a new version of itself. As artists continue to release albums, there will always be a blend of different influences. If rock of 2014 isn’t good enough for Gene Simmons, then who needs him? Rock no longer has the “bad boy” stereotype it had during Simmons's heyday, but the music is still there.