Rock's resurgence

July 18, 2002|By Los Angeles Times

One strength of the new rock resurgence is the wide range of musical styles. These groups are linked only by their passion, creativity and individuality.

The Strokes -- This quintet is the easiest entry point because it mirrors the moody, minimalist, world-weary music of an earlier bunch of New Yorkers: Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. The question facing the band is whether it can move beyond that sound on its second album, due next year on RCA.

There's no denying the seductive charm of the best tracks on the group's RCA album, Is This It -- notably "Last Nite," a slice of rock noir so enticing it sticks in your memory as much as Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side."

The Hives -- The Swedish quintet's garage-rock sound combines the sass of the early Stones with the driving insistence of the Stooges. The Hives reflect marvelously the impatience and exuberance of youth.

Its albums Barely Legal and Veni Vidi Vicious are gems.

The White Stripes -- If you only get one album by these bands, make it White Blood Cells on V2 Records. It's certainly fun when the Stripes do Robert Johnson and Bob Dylan songs in concert, but their strength is Jack White's songs. The elusiveness of love is his favorite topic, and he masterfully conveys the accompanying sense of yearning and doubt.

... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead -- Conrad Keely, one of the group's three singers, grew up listening to art-rock figures, including Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd, along with the Beatles. He later developed an interest in punk, and Trail of Dead's music reflects all those influences.

The Interscope group's sonic assault carries an almost symphonic grace in Source Tags & Codes, one of the year's finest albums.

The Mars Volta -- Like Trail of Dead, this band came out of the intense, physical Texas music scene that produced the now-defunct At the Drive-In. The Mars Volta, in fact, is fronted by Drive-In's singer, Cedric Bixler, and its guitarist, Omar Rodriguez.

The Mars Volta's first album is months away, but the band plays with a windshield-shattering intensity. The music, with some prog-rock touches, lacks the accessibility of the Hives and Stripes, but is thrilling in its own way.

Also noteworthy -- The Vines, whose lead singer, Craig Nicholls, has an especially charismatic stage presence, released their debut album Tuesday on Capitol Records. (The Vines appear at the 9:30 Club in Washington on Sunday.)

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club should have a new album next year from Virgin. The latter's guitar-driven, rock noir style is as drawn from the Jesus and Mary Chain as the Strokes' is from Lou Reed, although it shows more range.

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