Living in America
First Appeared at The Music Box, February 2004, Volume 11, #2
Written by John Metzger
Is rock really dead? Or at the very least, is the genre entirely bereft of new ideas? Based on the current surge of hot button bands, it sure seems as if a large portion of the music business is set on regurgitate. Granted, the entire foundation of rock ínĎ roll was built upon borrowed concepts, but the longer the genre exists, the more it simply appears to be running over the same old ground, circling endlessly in a slow spiral of death.
The latest round of garage rock acts simply furthers this notion as groups like The Hives, The Strokes, and The White Stripes channel í60s artists such as the Rolling Stones, The Stooges, The Who, The Kinks, and Cream with perhaps a touch of í70s punk and í90s grunge thrown in for good measure. True, all of these "up and coming" ensembles are quite good at what they do. However, that doesnít make them any more original, and unless a few of them come up with something truly unique and different, theyíre destined to live in the shadows of their predecessors until they finally are tossed aside and forgotten.
And what could possibly follow this latest garage-rock trend? Believe it or not, itís another blast through New Wave ó that strangely diverse style of music that followed punk and was kept alive long after it should have died, thanks to the advent of MTV. Twenty odd years later, the genre is back in full force, and this time, itís being ushered in by a band from Sweden called The Sounds. On its 12-song debut Living in America, the group delivers its music with all the playful pop-fueled energy and synth-laden ferocity of Missing Persons, The Go-Gos, Kim Wilde, and Blondie. Not surprisingly, the problem with the album is that it, too, retreads rather than reinvents a style. Although, it makes quite a ruckus, it is proffered without the slightest pretense of an attempt to be something more. Itís hyped as the next big thing when itís really the next old thing. Thatís ok, letís just call it what it is: a fun-filled and fiery romp through the past. The bigger question, however, is if rock music continues traversing its current path, just who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 25 years? Is anyone really making a genuine difference?
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box