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May 17, 2006

Rock Kills Kid

One of the nice things about being in one's mid-30s is that there's now a bunch of young bands who think it's the neatest damn thing to sound just like all the bands from 1983. Case in point: Rock Kills Kid, whose album Are you Nervous? sounds like the boys in the band were fed a diet of only the purest early 80s KROQ bands. Indeed, "Hideaway" (which you can hear at the first link there) is just like unearthing some lost cut from the Valley Girl soundtrack, and "Raise Your Hands" is arguably the best approximation of War-era U2 since The Alarm totally chucked its own musical personality to become U2-too.

The gleeful pressing of pleasure centers this album provides is evidence (if there was any needed) that we continue to love what we loved as teens, even when we're old enough to pretend to know better (This is why I'm a sucker for The Killers, too, who RKK shamelessly apes in their first single "Paralyzed"). I suppose one could criticize RKK for not exactly having its own musical personality, and thus the album as a whole lacks cohesion. But, really. Ask me if I care. It's like a smorgasbord of all my teenage 12-inch extended singles. The only problem with this album from my point of view is that it came out a year too soon, because it would be perfect for me to take to my 20-year high school reunion next year.

Of course, the real problem here is that we're only a couple years away from a Hair Metal revival. Gird your loins now.

Posted by john at May 17, 2006 12:16 PM

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Marina loves pictures | May 17, 2006 12:23 PM

I agree with you the new rock musik is not so new to the people who know the rock from the 80's. I guess you prediction for the long metal hair revival might become reality if the trend continues.

Allen Holt | May 17, 2006 12:28 PM

Of course, the real problem here is that we're only a couple years away from a Hair Metal revival. Gird your loins now.
Speaking of still loving what you loved as a teenager: Oh, man, I cannot wait for hair metal to come back (and no, I don't think The Darkness counts). We're getting close -- there's already a big article on Def Leppard in the newest Entertainment Weekly. I realize that very few of the metal bands from the 80s were really all that good, but I loved many of them anyway. Maybe if the comeback happens, some new bands can take the "big, dumb, loud and fun" and do something in the same spirit but with a little more sophistication.

Steve Thorn | May 17, 2006 01:03 PM

Such a cruel tease,.. Rock Kills Kid,.. I thought you had a scoop about THE Rock killing some kid. Talk about a DOOM nightmare...

AliceB | May 17, 2006 01:19 PM

What *does* "gird your loins" mean? I know what it means figuratively, but literally, what were men putting around their loins that protectec them from atrociousness?

John Scalzi | May 17, 2006 01:25 PM

This will explain all. Read it for the literal exlanation, not so much for the spiritual one (although I suppose it could have applications as well).

AliceB | May 17, 2006 01:38 PM

Thank you, John! However, given today's garments, it sounds more applicable to women. :)

John Popa | May 17, 2006 01:47 PM

Doing a lot of theater, I have a lot of contact with the Youth of America and I had to laugh hysterically when they told me I needed to listen to The Killers because they had this 'great new sound.'

Yes, the great new sound of early 80's new wave!

(And, yes, I'm still a sucker for The Killers.)

Randy | May 17, 2006 01:50 PM

What? Are you saying 80's hair metal EVER went away? Long live Poison!

Tripp | May 17, 2006 03:21 PM

"Gird your loins with truth" makes sense, but does anyone else cringe at "Open up the eyes of your heart?"

Say what?

Nate | May 17, 2006 03:26 PM

Wait, so RKK ripped of the Killers, who had already ripped off 80's new wave. Sigh. It reminds me of the article I read a while ago where Brandon Flowers of The Killers criticized another retro synth rock group, The Bravery, for stealing their idea! I find most of these bands very boring, but John, if you're looking for another band in this vein who in my opinion is actually quite good, check out I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, at least the song "According to Plan." That's how it should be done.

Maureen McCarty | May 17, 2006 03:29 PM

On my iPod are digitzed cassettes I taped from KNAC Long Beach / LA back when. It's fun to crank up that 80s hair metal station and hear things like "if it's too loud, you're too old", and "lock it in and rip the knob off".

The *best* part of 80s hair metal was the $70 I got for a Faster Pussycat t-shirt on ebay. Nostalgia rocks.

John Scalzi | May 17, 2006 03:41 PM


"Wait, so RKK ripped of the Killers, who had already ripped off 80's new wave."

Well, yeah. But the thing is, 80s New Wave was just kind of lying there, unused. You can't blame them for playing with it.

Listening to "According to Plan" right now. Rhapsody is the kewlest thang EVAR.

PiscusFiche | May 17, 2006 05:48 PM

If you liked the Killers, you might also like the sound of Imarobot, who I heard at Coachella. (Although admittedly not at Coachella itself, but at the Anthem party at Frank Sinatra's old estate.)

I hope you like them. I've been appreciating the musical recommendations I've gotten from your blog, ever since you, or somebody here, mentioned the Weakerthans song A Cat Named Virtue.

Burns! | May 17, 2006 05:50 PM

First, you can tell that we're from the 80s because we still refer to music delivery vehicles as "albums."

Secondly, I have to admit that since getting Sirius satellite radio a month or so ago, I have rarely switched off of the "Hair Nation" station. Holy CRAP! It's all the Ratt, Def Leppard, Scorpions, Dokken, Whitesnake etc. that anyone could ask for. And then some. Awesome!

John Scalzi | May 17, 2006 06:04 PM

Burns! and I once went to a Whitesnake concert together. It was possibly the greatest night in our lives.

Scott S. | May 17, 2006 06:16 PM

VH1 Classic has already sent Poison and Motley Crue on the nostalgia circuit.

Jas | May 17, 2006 06:26 PM

It's definitely time for Hair Metal to come back. Hell, it's Metal Month on VH1 right now, in fact.

I don't mind modern bands emulating 80's styles, so long as they admit it. If I hear one more youngster comment about a great new song that's a shoddy remake of a classic (I'm looking at you, Gwen Stefani), I'm gonna go all Grampa Simpson on 'em.

Nate Trost | May 17, 2006 10:34 PM

Now all we need are 80s style music videos to make a comeback. A while back there was some 3 hours clip of VCR immortalized footage of MTV circa 1983. Watching that was a trip.

Timothy McClanahan | May 18, 2006 01:27 AM

I call the collection of songs an 'album' regardless of the physical medium (LP, 8 track, cassette, CD, DVD Audio, etc.). Perhaps not correct, but it works for me. :)

Wan Zafran | May 18, 2006 02:52 AM

Musical trends are very much cyclic. A trend starts, dies, a new one begins, dies, then the old one begins anew under the wings of a new generation. At least, that's what I've observed.

Concerning the hair metal revival thingy: it might take a while to revive, but I'm guessing it's not far off.

Bands like The Darkness are making noisy splashes of course, but I've been listening to some friend's Avenged Sevenfold collection, when it just hit me, "Damn, does this band's playing sound like Iron Maiden or what?" I've noticed a lot of other bands doing the same thing too.

True, that's more than just an overstatement or a compliment, since Iron Maiden was the metal band of the 80s, which (probably) sired the entire melodic death genre, but the idea I'm bringing up here does agree with the main point of your post: that some of the music being produced nowadays are sounding like the products of yesteryear.

John Scalzi | May 18, 2006 07:13 AM

Timoth McClanahan:

"I call the collection of songs an 'album' regardless of the physical medium (LP, 8 track, cassette, CD, DVD Audio, etc.). Perhaps not correct, but it works for me. :)"

No, calling a collection of music an "album" is correct regardless of medium; it first started being used in that context in the era of 78s, when a complete long-form work would be stored on several records which were packaged together (hence the "album," like a picture album).

Martin Wisse | May 18, 2006 08:50 AM

Speaking of eighties influenced bands, have you've tried Britain's New Best Hope for the Future of Rock, the Artic Monkeys? All hype aside, they're actually quite good and despite the fact that they weaer their influences on their sleeves, manage to still create ttheir own, distinctive sound. It echoes the eighties but does not sound like it could've been recorded 25 years ago.

The same goes for the Kaiser Chiefs.

SFC SKI | May 25, 2006 11:26 PM

John, thanks you for artfully summing up why us cranky older men look askance at the next TRL phenom, this quote is priceless; "One of the nice things about being in one's mid-30s is that there's now a bunch of young bands who think it's the neatest damn thing to sound just like all the bands from 1983." 1983 was a great year for music, and considering some of these new band kids' parent were probably listening to the radio while the kids were being raised, or more likely conceived, it's no wonder there is such a predominant influence. But that is just this 41-year old's opinion.

Carl Barrett | October 23, 2006 03:43 AM

Thank God others realize the return of hair metal!!! It's on the rise again. It's really started up again in the midwest, primarily Texas. So many of those bands are on tour there right now, W.A.S.P., LA Guns, Cinderella, Ratt, Firehouse, etc. Hopefully, it will catch on in LA soon, where it belongs the most. I'm only 24, but i can't wait for the return of big hair and sleaze.

Sybil | May 9, 2007 05:52 AM

I hope hair metal doesn't come back at all! Let me explain u why. I'm a huge fan of the genre since back in the days (ehy, I'm 40!), this genre belongs to us, to the '80s the decade we grew in - take ur hands off the genre! I don't want it to make a comeback. Plus, the music and the lyrics are typically '80s - they represent the mood of that decade. Now 20 years later things have radically changed - that mood isn't there anymore - and the hair as well! So what u will get is not real hair metal again but just a pale imitation.
Long live the '80s long live real rock and not that shitty rock u hear on the radio nowadays.

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