Jack White, headteacher of Rock, is on the promotional trail for his upcoming album Boarding House Reach, due 23 March. He recently gave an interview on Los Angeles radio station KROQ, where he talked a little about what he sees as the future of guitar music, noting that he's ready for "new young blood" to "really just knock everybody dead." As per Spin, White said:
Rock ‘n’ roll needs an injection of some new young blood to really just knock everybody dead right now. It think it’s brewing and brewing and it’s about to happen, and I think that it’s good. Since rock ‘n’ roll’s inception, every 10, 12 years, there’s a breath of fresh air… some sort of what you could I guess call “punk attitude” or something like that, a wildness. Things get crazy and then they’re crazy for a couple years, and then they kind of get subtle. And then you’ve gotta wait for the next wave to come through and get people really excited and screaming about it again. We see it at Third Man all the time, a lot of young rock ’n’ roll acts, and I can tell in the last couple years it’s definitely different than it was five years ago. So I can tell something’s about to explode again.
Rock music, especially in recent years, has been plagued by this idea that it comes in waves for ages; there's an idea that it flares up and dies down, sometimes in response to social factors. While that may make sense when you're talking specifically about mainstream tastes (the last time guitar music was truly massive in the UK was during the Landfill Indie era back in the late 2000s, for example), it's kind of bizarre to hear someone who's supposedly a guitar music aficionado giving it credence.
That's because the world is never, ever without a dearth of great, energetic guitar music: you just have to know where to look for it. There are music scenes across the globe producing amazing, innovative new things all the time. So, as a primer, Jack White, here are a few of my favourite guitar acts (and these are just the ones I could fit into the short amount of time I had to write this blog post) who – while you were presumably waiting for five serious, identikit guys to knock your socks off with their intricacy of their riffs – have been ready to do it all along:
Lindsey Jordan of Snail Mail is one of the most exciting guitarists in music right now, and guess what? She's not a dude. While her early release Habit exists in a more laid back place, she recently promised Noisey that her upcoming debut album is a "shredding" record. Jack White would do well to sit up and listen, and maybe broaden his horizons a little.
If Jack White is still waiting for a band to "knock everybody dead" then he clearly hasn't heard Sheer Mag. The most technically proficient band in rock, with one of the best vocalists working in any genre, seem as though they'd be White's cup of tea. Maybe somehow he's managed to miss that. Wrap your ears around that, Jack, and you won't be waiting much longer.
It's often suggested that the best rock'n'roll comes from England, where we got really good at taking on the American artform and kicking its teeth in a bit. If that's what Jack's after: here's the best new rock band in England, Sports Team. A little bit of Pulp, a little bit of Haircut 100, a lot of riffs. Give 'em a whirl.
The Spook School
If rock is meant to be defiant and wilful and incendiary and full of doing whatever the fuck you like, that sounds a lot like what The Spook School are doing. It might not look like playing very serious Nashville-inspired riffs, but it's bands like this, who encourage self-acceptance and self-love through their lyrics actually kind of changing the world. Wasn't that what Jack White so desperately wanted to hear?
There are others besides: Goat Girl, Sorry, Girl Ray, Shame – though White might be talking about the more rootsy, American version of rock'n'roll blasted out by someone like the ever-talented Benjamin Booker, if he expands that view a bit he'll find other options worth getting excited about. The variety in sound here kind of tells us that what he's looking for was here all along – young musicians are knocking everybody dead all the time; perhaps he just wasn't searching in the right places.
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This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.