Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Great Riff Barrier

Rock and Roll isn't dead, it's just feeling a little sick after drinking bad milk...

The mainstream music press is having conniptions at the moment because their precious guitar music isn't very popular in the charts. The Guardian even ran a boo-hoo readers' piece that contained the magic phrase "It would be great to have a proper movement like Britpop again" (it wouldn't). The overall jist was that Rihanna has single-handedly destroyed rock'n'roll forever and no-one can ever listen to "proper" records again. FYI: This was placed slap bang in the middle of 87 articles about The Stone Roses.

But the solution to rock's big slump is pretty simple: WRITE SOME GODDAMN RIFFS.

Maybe it's Radiohead, maybe it's Coldplay, but everyone's traded screaming solos for glitching electronic borescapes. Here are the most eagerly-received indie singles of the minute. They're both great songs, and the guitar work is fine, but no-one's going to be pumping their fist in the air shouting "DUR DURRR dur dur durrr da-durr-da-durr" like they do when the Keith Richards knocks out the first few bars of Satisfaction.

Alt-J - Tesselate

Bloc Party - Octopus

What's interesting is that dance music has totally appropriated the riff. I went to see Calvin Harris play some CDs in a tent the other week, and when he dropped Avicii's Levels, the entire audience sang the bouncy synth hook back to him.

Calvin Harris plays Levels

But there is hope on the horizon. Rock can reclaim the riff... and The Black Keys are showing everyone the way.

Inspired by the fuzztone squall of T Rex, their excellent El Camino album is rammed full of amped-up riffage. Their new single Run Right Back is a case in point.

The Black Keys - Run Right Back

That’s the ticket: Now, if everyone else could crank out some fretboard fingertwisters, we’d all be sorted.

PS - here's the Top 10 best-selling singles of the year so far. The closest you get to a guitar riff is the intro to David Guetta's Titanium :(

1) Gotye ft Kimbra – Somebody That I Used To Know
2) Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe
3) David Guetta ft Sia – Titanium
4) Nicki Minaj – Starships
5) Fun. ft Janelle Monae – We Are Young
6) Jessie J – Domino
7) Flo Rid aft Sia – Wild Ones
8) Emeli Sande – Next To Me
9) Rizzle Kicks – Mama Do The Hump
10) DJ Fresh ft Rita Ora – Hot Right Now

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