RAVE'S FAVES (on the air, new this year)
The Thrills, The Vines, Phantom Planet, Yeah Yeah Yeah's ("Maps"), Jem, The Faint, Postal Service ("Heights"), Air ("Cherry"), Modest Mouse, Jet (various), The Strokes ("Reptilia"), Maroon5.
Lots of great new stuff so far in 2004! The Thrills from Scotland have an Adult Alternative hit with great hooks. The super new Vines song gives me hope that their sophomore effort will score for them.Phantom Planet, the Yeah Yeah Yeah's and Modest Mouse have all been getting top requests on L.A.'s trend-setting KROQ, along with the Eighties techno-leaning hotties from The Faint and Postal Service.Jem have a melodic, electronic flavored tune with their entire CD coming soon.Maroon5 have grown on me, and I now really like both of their radio/video hits. Honorable mention goes to songs from Incubus, Yellowcard, Living End, Ima Robot, and Franz Ferdinand, who are the hottest new band this year in the UK. The Franz CD drops stateside in mid-March. Word has it that they've been stealing live shows from headliners. I'm looking forward to their LA gig at The Troubadour. On the CD side, I really like The Darkness and Crystal Method. The Darkness are the first over the top metal band to score since the Eighties. Their CD won a Brit for Best Rock Album in the UK. In the U.S., they just went gold and are getting a huge push from their label.Air are getting great reviews and I enjoy their latest, but it's very mellow. I prefer the direction on their last one.
A NEW WAVE?
Grunge and post-grunge took guitar "hooks" away, but they're coming back and I couldn't be happier. On a broader scale, something very cool is happening. More of our fave bands are beginning to hit the rock mainstream. I noted above that so many of the faves are getting top requests on mainstream alternative radio in L.A. Most of these songs wouldn't have been played a year ago. There was a related feature article in the L.A. Times Calendar section earlier this year. The piece discussed the tremendous reaction that alt-rocker KROQ has received on these artists. Seven of the Top 10 audience response songs of 2003 were by people like The Strokes, White Stripes, and Jet. KROQ has played a higher percentage of this music and the article went on to remind us that most U.S. cities tend to be more resistant to change than L.A. listeners. Things will continue to evolve on a national basis. Here's a thought for you: This alteration of the rock landscape is being accompanied by a major increase in the activism of Bush's political opponents. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but perhaps there is also a connection. Any thoughts on your end?
Iron Maiden had a great run of January shows in New York and L.A., on their way to Asia. This time, about 70% of the set was new music. Still, the guys completely pulled it off. How many bands can actually do that without suffering from an energy drop? Of all the hard rocking bands from the early Eightie's, Maiden are one of the few who continue to do everything completely on their own terms and who are still so successful at it. The reformed Duran Duran have an original tune on the "Queer Eye" soundtrack. "Sunrise" is what I've been hoping for: a positive, melodic song over a modern, electronic backing track. The song itself doesn't sound like a hit to me, but it does whet the appetite for more. Despite continued denials from both the Hagar and Van Halen camps, my reliable information is that they will tour, and that it will probably begin in early June. It sounds like an album is in the works as well.
This column normally accentuates the positive. However, I must tell you that there is no one I root against more than Courtney Love. Her personality is despicable. I'm sure she has her friends and fans, but anyone I know that has dealt with her has had nothing good to say. It is amazing that the media find her so compelling. They say that everyone loves a train wreck and Courtney Love is certainly a train wreck.
I would like to again thank Uncle Joe for providing this forum for these Rave's. I also enjoy receiving the feedback that comes from our readers. If you care to write, please make sure that you put "Raves" in the subject line so that your message is not deleted as spam. Enjoy the rest of your winter. We'll be back in the spring with Rave's # 20. Until then,