Sometimes I have to ask myself: what happened to rock radio? It seems as though the days of “post-grunge” (I never really liked that term) schlock are long behind us (did anyone even know about Nickelback’s last album?), but since then, folk rock and electro pop seem to have taken the empty throne. The music these bands play seems decent enough, but, in my opinion, they don’t belong. Sometimes, during car rides, I find myself tuning into the local rock radio station. I’m not generally expecting anything new or interesting, but I remain hopeful that a new band will come in and help kickstart a radio rock revolution. After all, FM rock radio has introduced me to some recent gems, like Dead Sara, and a little two piece band named Middle Class Rut, who had a minor hit in “New Low” a few years back.
A duo consisting of Zack Lopez as the band’s primary lyricist and guitarist and Sean Stockham on drums, with the two sharing vocal duties, MCRut (the acronym used to distinguish themselves from the other MCR that I’d rather not mention here) are one of the heaviest hitting mainstream rock bands of the past few years. Their latest LP, Pick Up Your Head, is a straight up hard rock record, the kind that we’ve been mostly lacking for quite a while. The album kicks off with the chaotic rocker “Born Too Late”; the title and lyrics are quite fitting for a band who naturally seem like they could have made the waves on MTV alongside Jane’s Addiction and Rage Against the Machine in 1992. “Leech” slows things down to a snakey percussive crawl, one that is integral to many of the band’s songs, both on Pick Up Your Head (notably the fifth track “Cut the Line) and their debut album, No Name No Color. The song is slower and more psychedelic than the album opener.
“Weather Vein” is built around a funky bass groove provided by session player Nate Perry, a very catchy but aggressive song. “No More”, one of the album’s three probable radio singles, clearly demonstrates the Jane’s Addiction influence in the band; while they certainly borrow elements from the band, MCRut manage to make it their own and are more of a natural continuation of the band’s sound, like how early 90’s bands were clearly influenced by 70’s metal and hard rock bands they grew up on.
“Dead Eye” marks a departure from the aggressive sound already established on the album, instead opting for a fuzzy aura and melodic vocals, I believe from drummer Sean Stockham. The song’s lyrics are the only ones contributed by Stockham, and its certainly the poppiest tune on the album. The lyrics deal with feelings of regret and the ever looming presence of death; Stockham urges the listener to “not waste your life thinking about the end”. I can see this song getting alot of airplay and propelling the band to popularity. On the other hand, the penultimate track and the album’s lead single, “Aunt Betty”, is built around a monster guitar riff and drumbeat.
The album is certainly a refresher in this day and age of repetitive electro-pop tunes being marketed on rock radio, and catches the spirit of bands that came before while not being stuck in any previous decade. This is exactly what aspiring artists should do: choose their influences and build upon that sound instead of completely rehashing it.
Overall score: 9 out of 10
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