The Modern Sleaze Rock Epidemic
Since the decline of the hedonistic 80′s Glam Metal era, Rock and Roll seemed to have been on a long-term hiatus with Grunge effectively dominating the modern rock scene. However, since the early 2000′s Glam Metal seems to be making a comeback within the underground rock community, mostly erupting out of Sweden. This new movement is referred to as sleaze rock, and today there are many sleaze bands popping out from all around the world (although Sweden and Finland seem to be the most prominent). For the most part, these bands seem to have a unanimously positive response from their internet fan base, most of whom are well aware of their 80′s Glam Metal predecessors. Although many online fans make the claim that “Rock is back” or “These guys are bringing back Glam Metal”, are these modern sleaze metal bands really giving Glam Metal a good name? Of course, good and bad are subjective to personal opinion so I do not claim that my opinion is absolute.
First, lets take a look at some of the 80′s glam metal bands and consider the influences found in their music. Glam Metal was a very diverse genre; considering almost every band that played rock or metal (except extreme metal bands) were thrown into that category by record companies during the 80′s. Many of the Glam Metal bands had strong roots in blues, funk, hard rock, pop, punk, and metal that they took and mixed from their 60′s and 70′s rock predecessors. If we were to specifically consider Glam guitarists we’d see that glam metal spawned a large majority of virtuosos (i.e. Reb Beach, George Lynch, Nuno Bettencourt, Vito Bratta, etc..).
Sleaze Rock Bands
On the opposite end let’s take a look at the modern sleaze metal bands. Sure, they have a similar image; spiked teased hair, leather and studs, cowboy boots, etc… but is the music really there? A quick listen to bands like Crashdiet, Dirty Penny, Vains Of Jenna etc and you’ll quickly realize the only similarity between sleaze and glam metal seems to be the stereotypical anthemic sing-a-long choruses, while the rest is a mix of punk, pop and modern rock. These bands sound more like alternative rock than glam.
The sleaze rock music formula becomes obvious quite quickly: A vocalist with weak range and an attempt at aggressive vocals that only comes off as a snarky chipmunk suffering from severe constipation, a very standard rhythm section, and a lead guitarist with limited technical and innovative rhythm/lead skill recycling a 2nd rate Slash solo. These bands seem to have little in common (with the exception of image) with the obvious Glam groups such as Motley, Ratt, WASP, Whitesnake, Dokken etc and have more in common with the punky sleaze styling’s of bands like Faster Pussycat, LA Guns, Hanoi Rock, and GNR. Not to insult the 80′s sleaze bands, but it seems like the modern bands are simply a cheap copy singing pop songs while desperately trying to appeal to the perceived stereotype of the genre. They seem to lack that raw integrity, hunger, anger, and rebellion that made the older bands so interesting and no amount of hairspray, leather, and spandex is enough to put them on the same level.
The Modern Pop Sleaze Band
Also there are bands with hardly any rock influence prevalent in the music. Sleaze Rock Bands like Reckless Love sound identical to modern techno pop; fit only to appeal to a growing tween pop crowd but trying to maintain an ‘edgy’ hip look. Unfortunately, they dress in 80′s fashion, have long hair and carry guitars in their videos giving Glam metal an even worse reputation (who would have thought that was possible, right?). Yet, many fans claim that they are “Bringing back ‘old-school’ rock” simply because the image is similar. Are we so desperate for the return of Rock N Roll that if Justin Bieber grew his hair long and started wearing leather pants we would call him Glam Metal or Hard Rock? Bands like Reckless Love are about as rock n roll as the Orianthi or Adam Lambert albums, just because it’s marketed or hyped in that way, doesn’t make it so.
Funny moment: Reckless Love playing to a crowd of literally only 7-13 year old girls and their parents. The lead singer proceeds to tear his shirt off for the crowd during a song and perform shirtless. While I have no problem with sexual imagery, it seems out of place and embarrassing to tear your shirt off for a crowd of children with their parents…
The Emo/Screamo Metal Sleaze Band
Definitely the worst of all the Sleaze Rock offenders.
As the popularity of Emo declined in the late 2000′s, the surviving emos decided to evolve into a new breed. Emos began to combine themselves with ‘Extreme’ metal genres such as death, hardcore and screamo metal. Bands like Black Veil Brides however, were not satisfied with only extreme metal so they started to fuse their emo image with Glam Metal. Black Veil Brides blatantly rip-off Motley’s SATD image and mix it with a tween emo hot topic look to create their own concoction of Emo/Screamo Sleaze Rock/Glam Metal. However, some of the members maintain their side-swept bangs in order to look modern. The outcome is an Emo Sleaze image, mixed with alternative pop rock and screamo metal. Their lyrics follow the Emo formula by expressing their sadness and whininess of being ‘outcasts’ and appealing to the tween ‘scene’ Hot Topic crowd. 14 year old girls everywhere with dyed black hair and lip rings find themselves chanting along to a Black Veil Brides self pity chorus.
Another Emo Sleaze Rock/Metal Band is newcomers Toxic Rose. Toxic Rose is from Stockholm Sweden (Big surprise!) and have an identical image to Black Veil Brides. The music is also identical to BVB, however, no growling/cookie-monster screamo vocals are included.
Congratulations Toxic Rose and Black Veil Brides, you have officially ruined Motley Crue’s best album for me.
There are definitely a few other concoctions of sleaze rock out there but I’m too lazy to list them all. Although I am a Glam Metal fan I cannot endorse these new Sleaze Metal bands and their supposed Rock N Roll ‘revival’. Musically, I don’t hear any similarities between 80′s Glam and New Sleaze. Their songs have no substance, they are simply commercial bubble gum rock bullshit copying an image they have no real understanding of. If these sleaze rock guys are “bringing back glam”, then please leave it buried. Oh and Sweden: stop, just stop.
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Unfortunately, the Sunday morning Columbia Records Radio Hour was not broadcast in the Boston area to my knowledge, so I have no detailed information of the radio broadcasts themselves. Nonetheless, volume one is a nice sampler, with a solid mix of folk & country based artists.
The brightest moments belong to Bruce Cockburn, Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Rosanne Cash. Cockburn is benefitted by the always-tasteful upright bass of Rob Wasserman, which gives plenty of bottom to the inflective “Lord Of The Starfields” and the engaging “Lovers In A Dangerous Time.” In fact, I prefer this version of the latter to the studio original.
Shawn Colvin is represented by an intimate “Polaroids”, where her angelic voice is complemented by a variety of interesting rhythms. Mary Chapin Carpenter add supple harmonies on the great “Shotgun Down The Avalanche”, and Colvin returns the favor for a gorgeous reading of Carpenter’s “Come On Come Over” that gives a prime example of the benefits of h
Best of Columbia Records Radio Hour 1
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