"Somebody That I Used to Know" is an Elliott Smith song, godammit
August 30, 2012 1:07 AM   Subscribe

Catch me up on what's happened in rock music in the last 10 years?

I ran out of brain bandwidth for music in the early 2000's (my early 20s)-- I had to focus on a lot of other things going on my life (marriage, career, etc). Having sold my precious '72 custom tele reissue back then, recently I finally bought an epi les paul and I need new/interesting/relevant stuff to play.

I don't want to just listen to music I listened to when I was a teenager...so help me catch up on what I've missed in the intervening years.

Previous musical tastes lean towards alternative guitar-based rock: Radiohead (up through OK Computer), STP, Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters, Elliott Smith, Oasis, Travis, Morphine, Sunny Day Real Estate, pre-sleazeball John Mayer, etc. I had a brief fling with Minus the Bear a few years ago, but finger-tapping isn't my cup of tea.

The music I hear in car commercials (and isn't that the most reliable indicator of popular music) hasn't been doing much for me...and whatever it is folks see in the White Stripes, Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I'm not getting it.

I find the presence of gimmicky 90s cover bands to be deeply disturbing, and I don't want to end up listening to an "oldies" station in another decade. Help me enter the 21st century?
posted by joshwa to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
To answer your question overall - a lot of bands similar to the ones you listed (White Stripes etc) more or less took over rock music, more on the independant/hipster end of things, but definitely some of them crossed over to mainstream radio/video etc. My musical taste was formed in the 90s as well, with a lot of the bands you liked, so I feel you when you say you're not getting it, but you should still keep your mind and your ears open because some really decent bands do tend to get lumped in with them. (I stayed away from The Black Keys for years based on the one song I'd heard and their name, until a friend gave me their second most recent album Brothers, after which I immediately went out and grabbed their whole catalog).

Also, even if you're not a fan of the White Stripes, you should check out some of Jack White's other projects. He just released his first official solo album recently and it's actually quite good (I, too, am lukewarm on WS for what it's worth) but my favorite material that he's been involved with is a band called The Dead Weather.

Some of the bands/musicians you may have been into in the 90's are still around, or have moved on to new and interesting projects. Dinosaur Jr. got back together in their original incarnation a few years ago and have released two very solid albums. Mark Lanegan (the singer from Screaming Trees) has a solo band with a few great albums under its belt, in addition to working with Queens of the Stone Age and the guy from the Afghan Whigs. If you were ever a fan of Tool (or even if you weren't), check our Maynard James Keenan's new group Puscifer, which is much more accesible - he also did a few albums with A Perfect Circle, but they weren't really my taste. Generally anything Mike Patton (the singer from Faith No More) is involved with is awesome, though not always guitar/rock based. The Fall keep churning out blistering rock albums.

hmmm ... there's probably more I could suggest, for now I'll just list a few things you might like from scanning through my ipod:

And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
The Besnard Lakes
Chad VanGaalen
Do Make Say Think
Gogol Bordello
The Heavy
Lydia Loveless
Russian Circles
Screaming Females
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
posted by mannequito at 1:50 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

You haven't missed much, except for Interpol and the Libertines.

Oh, and the Walkmen.
posted by ZipRibbons at 2:03 AM on August 30, 2012

Your mention of Elliot Smith and Radiohead made me think of two bands, specifically two albums, of the last few years which are now in my "things it will never not be the right time to listen to" pile:

Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

God I LOVE these two albums. Give me these and nothing else and I'd be happy for weeks.
posted by greenish at 2:27 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure that "what's happened" is even valid anymore. Maybe it's just because I stopped reading magazines and paying attention to what the latest big thing is, but there's a whole world of little 'scenes' going on these days.

LastFM is great for finding new stuff. And realising that your listening patterns aren't what you expect! (Do I really listen to more Little Boots than Dead Weather?!)
posted by BadMiker at 2:36 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

You might like the Silversun Pickups
Sound Tribe Sector Nine (STS9)
Of Monsters and Men
Alabama Shakes
JJ Grey and Mofro
posted by gt2 at 3:04 AM on August 30, 2012

If you're into the Foos and Queens of the Stone Age, check out Them Crooked Vultures. The band consists of Josh Homme, Dave Grohl, and John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin. Together they put out one of the greatest records of the past decade.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 3:06 AM on August 30, 2012

Backyard Babies offer some delicious rock guitar.
posted by three blind mice at 3:24 AM on August 30, 2012

Maximo Park
posted by Bodd at 5:30 AM on August 30, 2012

I think you'd like The National. Check out Boxer, Alligator, and High Violet (maybe in that order). Here's a taste, though:

Fake Empire
Bloodbuzz, Ohio
Conversation 16
Mr. November

I'll recommend The Constantines, too, who aren't together anymore. But, I love a lot of the bands you say you like, and they are one of my favourites.

Shine a Light
Soon Enough
Draw Us Lines
posted by synecdoche at 6:09 AM on August 30, 2012

Strong second for The Constantines.

It's just me, I'm sure, but aside from an occasional song or two, a LOT of the current "rock" bands just make me go, "Meh. Been there, done that." So I've been drifting towards "Post-rock."

Red Sparowes
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Explosions In The Sky

If you're interested in something more metal, try Mastodon.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:37 AM on August 30, 2012

Fastball is still around. Their most recent album Little White Lies (albeit 2009) is something I can't stop playing. Don't bother going to their website, though, as it hasn't been updated since two or three albums ago. Just YouTube 'em.

As others have said, you haven't missed much at all regarding the mainstream--2012 albums still have the feel of 1998 albums, in my opinion.

It's all in the indie rock right now. Fortunately, indie rock is much more accessible than it was in the '90s.
posted by TinWhistle at 6:49 AM on August 30, 2012

There has been a huge folk revival (freak folk) in the last few years -- bands like Panda Bear, Ariel Pink, Fleet Foxes, The Mountain Goats, Joanna Newsom. Generally, influences from the late 60s/early 70s have been very big, from country-rock to british invasion (Wes Anderson may be to blame).

For pop music, Janelle Monae is a big deal, though perhaps not your cup of tea. There's also a lot of experimental electronica like Dan Deacon.

I'm not sure how helpful any of these suggestions are though if you are looking for the same type of music that you listened to in the 90s -- I just don't know what today's OK Computer would be. I think that part of the problem is that there are just a lot more tiny and far-ranging subgenres than there used to be, and people tend to cultivate very varied, eclectic tastes between all of them. If you want to catch up generally musically, NPR Music is a fantastic resource; the All Songs Considered Podcast is great and they also let you stream many full new albums through First Listen.
posted by susanvance at 7:32 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't have any specific bands to recommend, but just want to add that if you want to continue to be exposed to good music, try student or independent radio stations. I hear more interesting new bands on our local student radio station than I have time to check out. WFMU's also pretty good.

You may have a good one locally, or you can always listen online.
posted by echo target at 7:41 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh! But actually, I think you might really like Spoon, and this list of similar bands has some good similar suggestions as well. Allmusic has some wonderful browsing features in general, you might have good luck typing in your old favorites and checking out their "followers".
posted by susanvance at 7:43 AM on August 30, 2012

Let's see...past 10 years in rock. The Foo Fighters came out with Wasting Light which is just absolutely amazing. The Red Hot Chili Peppers got old. A Perfect Circle, Muse, The Mars Volta all destroyed.
posted by zephyr_words at 8:08 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: (sorry for delayed reply; time zone issues here in the eastern hemisphere)

Wow, you guys are awesome. I have a lot of listening to do. Keep those recommendations coming!

I know it's not strictly teleological, but can anyone explain how we got here from there?

Assuming a lot has to do with:
  • the demise of commercial radio, owing to the internet
  • deep digital access to the infinite back catalog, which makes influences more diverse than that which is currently on the radio (see above)
  • the different cultural zeitgeist of the 90s vs the 00s/10s affecting the nature of teen angst (which presumably drives much musical development)?
Other theories? Or can someone draw a straight line from Nirvana to The Arcade Fire?
posted by joshwa at 3:19 PM on August 30, 2012

Since nobody else has, may I recommend White Denim?

Regina Holding Hands
It's Him! (live)
BONUS: 11 minutes of Bess St., Shake Shake Shake, and River To Consider

For the life of me, I can't figure out why these guys aren't filling stadiums. But I am kind of glad they aren't, because live in a small venue, they'll blow your mind.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 3:39 PM on August 30, 2012

You keep mentioning Arcade Fire. Do you want to talk about them? Do you want us to convince you to give them a proper shot? Because I will say this: they're worth it. They're really worth it.

Direct line from Nirvana? Well, Nirvana inspired an industry to fund an army of angry young men with guitars, and it became so fucking noisy we all turned our radios off. In the ensuing silence, we remembered what was actually halfway good about music. For me, Arcade Fire was a big part of that remembering process.

Maybe we should head back to that era, if that's where you jumped off the train. If you'd like to catch up chronologically, here are a few albums that might help:

Modest Mouse - The Moon & Antarctica [2000] (wiki, youtube)

Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It in People [2002] (wiki, youtube)

The New Pornographers - Mass Romantic [2000] (wiki, youtube)

Sufjan Stevens - Illinois [2005] (wiki, youtube)

Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot [2002] (wiki, youtube)

Arcade Fire - Funeral [2004] (wiki, youtube)

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs [2010] (wiki, youtube)
posted by tapesonthefloor at 5:13 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I know it's not strictly teleological, but can anyone explain how we got here from there?

Honestly, that's hard, since I'm not really sure what you mean by "here" or "there." I mean, I personally think the biggest loss we've seen since the 90s is a lack of successful female artists, so I could write about that, but it seems like you're talking about something else - what is it that you see in contemporary music and want explained?

That said, I think the throughline I see from Nirvana to Arcade Fire is a sort of pure-hearted earnestness/sincerity, plus an obsession with mortality. You might be interested in this 2007 piece from the New Yorker about how rock music "lost its soul" or rather, its connection to "black" music - a trend the author traces back to the 90s.

Also, it might just be that you need to give some of this music more of a shot (which I realize is what you're doing with this question!). Every once in a while I'll find myself in a musical rut and I realize I really need to push myself to engage in new stuff. I have such strong emotional connections with the older stuff I love, and it's going to take longer to develop that with newer music, especially since I'm not 20 anymore.

Oh, and: have you checked out Metric? They were founded in the 90s but they're still making music and I've found they've got a nice mix of a 90s sound with more contemporary sounds mixed in.
posted by lunasol at 8:22 AM on August 31, 2012

Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past by Simon Reynolds, about the past decade's musical obsession with mining and recycling the past.

The Decade In Indie by Nitsuh Abebe, about the past decade's mainstreaming of indie music and what it means, and how we got from the 90's to here.
posted by naju at 2:01 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My personal take on the last 10 years, as a bit of a reformed rockist, is that rock and roll, as a guitar bass drums phenomenon, is dying. There are still bands like that, but they're mostly for people in their late 20s and 30s. Teenagers like electronic pop, electronic punk, hip hop, and stuff that mixes those with folk music (like the Gotye you referenced in the OP).

Anyway, there are still hard rock bands similar to Nirvana (check out Torche, Fucked Up and Royal Baths for recent examples), british invasion influenced bands like Oasis (check out Love as Laughter, Title Tracks, Beachwood Sparks and the continuing career of Supergrass and Of Montreal) and anthemic pop-punk is making a bit of a comeback the last couple of years (the success of the Hold Steady lead to awesome new bands like Japandroid whose latest record is my favorite 2012 release). Several british genres from the 80s and 90s made a comeback this decade, including shoe-gaze, Madchester, dream pop, and c86 (too many awesome examples of these to know where to start... A Sunny Day In Glasgow perhaps?). Unfortunately there is still no genre based on Morphine.

Also, welcome back! I took a break from new music for like 5 years once and it is wonderful sometimes to realize how many things are out there now and how much easier it is to find good stuff. Go to Spotify, look up any of the bands in this thread and start a radio station based on them. Put your favorites in a playlist. Share it with us when you got 100 new bands--that could take only a few days!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:56 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

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