Contemporary pop music sounds impeccable, but less because musicianship has improved than because advances in digital recording technology have made it possible to eliminate imperfections and achieve inhuman standards of flawlessness in every vocal line, drum fill, and guitar solo. The result is pristine. But also antiseptic. Bloodless. Songwriting, meanwhile, has reverted to an updated version of the pre-rock Brill Building model, with committees of pros called in to collaborate on sugary confections packed full of hooks and custom designed to top the charts. It’s pop music as advertising jingle.
I don’t so much dislike today’s hits as listen to them with indifference. They’re pleasant and catchy enough. But it’s background music to my life rather than a source of life, or beauty, or joy.
Something has changed, and it isn’t me. How do I know? Because I’ve just discovered the contemporary Canadian band Big Wreck, and they’re every bit as great as the best bands of my youth — and nothing like what sells records today. Big Wreck’s new album Grace Street, in particular, is a rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece the likes of which I haven’t encountered in many years.
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If Nirvana pioneered the quiet-verse/loud-chorus dynamic that defined grunge, Big Wreck have mastered a potent variant of angular and ugly verses that give way to spectacularly melodic choruses, with bridges that often introduce a whole new section, or alternative chorus, to the song. The artist who’s come closest to modeling this oscillating approach to song structure is probably Peter Gabriel, especially on his remarkable string of self-titled albums from the late ’70s and early ’80s.
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Big Wreck is the total rock ‘n’ roll package.
There’s more at the link.
I’ve sampled several of the group’s tracks on YouTube, and some from their latest album ‘…But for the sun‘, released only a week ago. Here’s a short selection, the first four recommended in the article above, the last from their new album.
You’ll find more about the group on its Web site. They certainly sound a lot more interesting than most of the modern dreck out there!