Now that 94.9 has turned into what 91X was, and 91X has turned into-well, 91X circa 1988-you may find it difficult these days to find any real new music. I mean, I love hearing The Killers and Tegan and Sara over and over again (91X is actually playing three different versions of the latter's "Walking With the Ghost"), but I also like to expand my horizons beyond the Further Monotony of FM now and again. At the very least, out there on the fringes I might find a fourth version of Tegan and Sara's bouncy single.
Unless you've been living under Britney Spears' spawn-bearing gut, then you know that the '80s are so back. Influenced by new-wave and post-punk, bands like Hot Hot Heat, Franz Ferdinand and The Killers remind us of the good ol' days of coke binges and Iran-Contra. Some say the resurgence is a natural progression from the '70s garage rock made popular by The White Stripes and The Hives, as if we're on some kind of pop-culture-nostalgia loop. If you're conspiratorial like me, you know it's really the ghost of Ronald Reagan haunting us with the music of his term. Before you know it, Jelly Bellies will be a profitable confection once again.
Either way, it seems like we're stuck with MTV's inaugural decade for the time being. Even Duran Duran took the hint and are touring again.
But if the garage-rock renaissance taught us anything, it's that there's only room for a few. Remember The Vines and Sahara Hotnights? No, you probably don't-they were pretty capable bands that were cast aside because the podium for icons in any trend is only a few feet wide.
So it's sad that poseur bands like The Bravery rake it in like Gordon Gekko in Wall Street while much more talented bands sit on the tracks. You know, the ones that don't have lame-ass Morrissey impersonators who once played in ska bands and had blonde dreadlocks à la Vanilla Ice circa 1995. Or the ones not fronted by a fucking Mormon! That's no slag on the religion of Killers frontman Brandon Flowers-Mormons make very good commercials that better society, after all-but I like my rock 'n' roll and religion sold separately. I must admit I really dug The Killers' debut album when it first hit the streets, but, ultimately, the goth-pop candy lead to a few cavities that savaged my ear canal.
When The Futureheads released their debut late last year, I thought they were destined for the same kind of star treatment. They had toured with Franz Ferdinand, and their single "Decent Days and Nights" was a Cars-inspired call-and-response that was, in my mind, an inescapable hit. It's a four-dude band with such good vocals that they could have sung their entire debut album a capella and it probably still would've worked. "Decent Days" got play on 94/9 for a couple weeks, but the station ultimately opted for a surplus spin for Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" instead. Consequently, The Futureheads have traveled from Britain to play San Diego three times in the past year and have consistently played to a crowd of mere dozens.
Fellow Brits the Kaiser Chiefs seem likely to join The F-heads as pop-culture bottom feeders. Slightly more new-wave than The Futureheads, they're often lumped next to fellow newcomers Bloc Party. The Chiefs' album, Employment, takes equal parts Clash and Blur and meshes those influences into something that's both danceable and mosh-able, something that moves your fists as well as your feet. "I Predict a Riot" has been played on the radio a few times since its release as a single three months ago, and thanks to their gig at the House of Blues, you can expect a few more spins, but not much else after that.
Some bands sell millions of records, but in the process you get sold. Some bands don't, but you still get sold. The difference is that with The Futureheads and The Kaiser Chiefs, you don't feel ripped off.