Let’s get one thing straight:
ROCK IS NOT DEAD. IT’S JUST NOT MAINSTREAM RIGHT NOW.
That means you need to look a little harder to find it but it’s out there, and many amazing bands are flying its flag. With the final Bandcamp Friday only a few days away, I wanted to make sure I give a proper list of artists you need to check out, all of whom I’ve been supporting (and will again on May 7) since Bandcamp made the classy move of waiving their revenue share on the first Friday of every month since last May. Let’s get into it.
Maybe I’d feel funny about nepotism if my cousin Pete wasn’t so goddamn talented but after more than 15 years of playing with Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, his musical prowess is undeniable. He just released his first three solo singles, which are teeming with guitar-laden goodness. They’re awesome so go get ’em all!
Since February, CAPE‘s remote engineering has been partly handled by Serious Matters guitarist Criss Madd, who I’ve saddled with the nickname of Engineer Criss Jr (he actually is a junior). Last week, I had the privilege of seeing their first concert since the pandemic stopped live music cold, and they did not disappoint. Their debut album Mistaking Wasps For Dragonflies is chock-full of melodic riffage so if you like your music and lyrics to be heavy, get in on this band.
In case you thought I was only going to plug friends, I don’t know Jessie personally (yet). However, I was lucky to have the typically daunting YouTube algorithm recommend her music to me, and I was sold after the first note! Jessie’s solo album Shoes Droppin is loaded with foot-stompers and ballads, all drenched with the melody of her soulful voice. This album has been a mainstay of my car jams for the last few months and long may it remain so. Go listen and hear what I’m talking about.
After being turned on to Jessie Wagner, YouTube soon suggested a live video of Aerosmith’s “Angel,” which Jessie performed with Philly-based band Soraia. I saw there was a studio version of the cover available on their new single, so that seemed like the place to start. As soon as I heard the thundering shuffle of “Tight-Lipped,” I knew I’d found a band that was right up my alley. I immediately bought the single along with last year’s album Dig Your Roots. Soraia’s had my heart ever since. Muscular rock music with a powerhouse female vocalist – what’s not to love? Basically, I’ll be buying the rest of their discography on Friday.
I’m not sure Militia Vox has forgiven me for softening her image by showing how hilarious she is in our two–part, three hour conversation (four hours if you’re a Patreon supporter). Maybe I’ll get back in her good graces if those episodes and this post translate into some impressive sales this week. In all seriousness, if you listened to those shows, you know how much I admire Militia’s boundless creativity and dedication to embodying every ounce of the artist she wants to be. Her debut album The Villainess is brimming with themes of self-belief and empowerment while not shying away from the darker aspects of the world. The Villainess visual album is also a stunning triumph in itself, and you should definitely watch that as well, but only after putting on headphones, turning off the lights and absorbing its density as a listening experience.
If you’re looking to start somewhere more accessible, the BAIT EP features covers of six songs you probably know. As we discussed on the most recent episode, there are only two ways to cover a song – do a loyal performance of the original version or make it entirely your own. Militia has opted for the latter by infusing Tool’s “46 & 2” and Ozzy’s “No More Tears” with some industrial flavor, bringing a fiercely feminine edge to Nine Inch Nails’ “Reptile,” delivering lusty angst for PJ Harvey’s “Rid Of Me,” balancing angelic yet desperate vocals in Depeche Mode’s “Waiting For The Night,” and transforming Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)” into a metallic anthem with the help of guitarist and good Jersey boy Doc Coyle (who, like me, is also a traitor who moved to LA). If you’re looking for something familiar yet different, this six song EP fills that void.
MEET ME @ THE ALTAR
With the early 2000s mainstream explosion of pop punk courtesy of Green Day and Blink-182, we should be seeing a lot more young bands channeling that energy into their music. Thankfully, we have Meet Me @ The Altar leading the charge for the next generation. After catching the video for “Sane” off their 2019 EP Bigger Than Me, I was hooked. Freshly signed to Fueled By Ramen and leading off with the killer single “Garden,” these ladies prove they’re just getting started. Buy their music and turn it up!
Sometimes I buy an album just because it has a cool looking cover. This was the case when I snagged The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed from the import clearance section of Virgin Megastore in Times Square back in 2004. I was rewarded with the catchy rock of Cheap Trick blended with the ferocity of Metallica, a combination I never knew I needed in my life. Easily the best $3.99 I’ve ever spent.
Ginger is the heart and the engine of that band, and his solo work runs of gamut of all genres. His excellent double album Valor del Corazon has nursed my broken heart many times over the years, so I highly recommend it. The free(!) compilation 10 (Two) is also a solid starting point, featuring his solo tracks and a few songs from the underappreciated Silver Ginger 5 (the accompanying compilation Ten is available for purchase on other digital services). The noisy pop of Hey! Hello! is in full force on their debut album and thankfully, you can also find some releases from The Wildhearts on his Bandcamp page. Their 2007 self-titled album is bursting with melodic hooks fused with punk and metal fury, more than enough to satisfy any respectable rock fan. I can easily write much more about how incredible Ginger is, and maybe I will in the future but for now, treat your ears to the variety of savory rock this man has gifted to the world.
Never forget how artists and entertainers helped carry you through this last year. Their work supported you during a pandemic, so support them in return. Go shopping at bandcamp.com on Friday May 7, and do so again on any other day.