Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Why indie music needs the return of the guitar band

Considering it is the key element for any aspiring rock band, the loss of the guitar band is a strange and unwelcome sight. If the following statement had been said in 2010, you would have been right to be worried about the future of indie rock music, however 2011 has so far heralded the return of the guitar band. While the last few years have been dominated by everything from electro to synth-pop to the worst of the lot, nu-folk, 2011 looks set to be dominated once again by the garage rock band, 10 years on from it’s first revival.

In a year where we lost The White Stripes and saw the return of The Strokes, we have needed a new guitar band more than ever. Known as the “The” bands, those two aforementioned American acts were key to the return of the garage rock revival sound in the early 21st century, alongside The Vines from Australia, The Hives from Sweden and British heroes The Libertines. However those three have disappeared from the world’s main stage, all following their first two albums that were huge mainstream hits across the globe. The Libertines, of course, had a welcome return to the fold, with a blinding and emotional comeback at last year’s Reading and Leeds festival.

Over the past few years, only Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys have stepped up to the plate, with their first three albums quick to hit the top spot. Never has a guitar album seemed so important since their record-breaking debut, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.’ That may have come via The Vaccines’ debut, ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ Although drowned underneath a large fluid of hyperbole, it’s clear from the reactions of most music critics that it is a welcome addition to 2011’s releases. The NME, in their 8/10 review, called it a “British equivalent” to The Strokes’ debut ‘Is This It,’ whilst the BBC called their lyrics “uninspiring” but stated that the band are “consequently very much worth exploring.”

Despite being hailed as the saviours of guitar rock and the British Strokes, only a year ago vocalist and rhythm guitarist Justin Young played folk rock under the name ‘Jay Jay Pistolet.’ This has been met with criticisms and suspicions amongst some music publications, given how quickly The Vaccines had signed to a major label, after only forming in July 2010. However, Young is keen to explain otherwise. “I wanted to do something new because I’d hit a brick wall creatively and lost my drive and focus,“ he tells the March issue of The Fly magazine. “So when Freddie [Cowan, lead guitar] and I were putting a band together with mutual friends of ours, it was instantly refreshing.” Young is quick to point out that The Vaccines hadn’t intended to be a guitar band. “When we started it wasn’t a guitar band. I was playing keyboard and Freddie was playing bass and I’m still writing on acoustic guitar and piano. In terms of where the songs come from, it hasn’t been a massive departure [from the folk material], it’s just been refreshing to present them in a different way.” The quartet are completed by Anri Hjorvar (bass) and Pete Robertson (drums). Their sound has been compared to The Strokes, Editors, The Clash and The Ramones, and whilst sounding unoriginal, they seems to be the band for people who missed out on The Strokes the first time around.

Joining The Vaccines in resurging the guitar band this year, have been Slough’s Brother. The four piece brit-pop revivalists have already graced the cover of NME and been hailed as the new Oasis. Just two months after playing their first gig as ‘Brother‘, they signed to major label Geffen. Similar to The Vaccines, the band have been criticised for their quick foray to a major label, given they were previously a pop-punk band (Wolf Am I) and a screamo band (Kill The Arcade), before they switched to brit-pop. Also hailed as the replacement to Oasis are Liam Gallagher’s new band, Beady Eye. Basically Oasis without Noel, Liam has already stated they are bigger than his former band and has shown his ego hasn’t dipped, proclaiming them to soon be bigger than The Beatles! Liam has also been hard at work slating Brother, calling them “little posh boys in tattoos.” No doubt though, soon both bands’ music will be gracing football terraces around the country.

If any of these new ‘saviours’ of guitar music don’t tickle your fancy, well The Strokes have a new album in stores now, whilst Arctic Monkeys’ fourth effort, “Suck It and See,” is out June 6.

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