s rock music dead? It’s a debate widely contested by music aficionados across the globe. One thing’s for sure it’s certainly not as popular as it once was. Only 10 years ago there seemed to be life in the genre, with Arctic Monkeys’ debut album Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not becoming the fastest selling debut album of all time in Britain and bands like The White Stripes, Arcade Fire, Queens of the Stone Age and The Strokes all operating successfully on the other side of the pond. Granted some of these bands are still running well today, but there’s just not the same buzz of new guitar bands coming through. It only takes a brief scan over the current UK charts and you’ll see the same pop star’s names of and over again, with scarce mention of any actual guitar acts. The ‘rock mantra’ instead seems to be carried by indie pop acts such as Bastille, The 1975 and Imagine Dragons, a far cry from some of the most revered bands of the genre and hardly the direction many would’ve wanted.
Which brings me to Public Access TV. A band I’ve been following closely since the release of their debut single ‘Monaco’ back in January 2014 and their inclusion in the NME Radar column. Flying very much under the radar, this New York four-piece have managed to produce one of the most authentic rock n’ roll albums of the year. With early comparisons to indie rock legends The Strokes, Public Access TV have managed to catch a niche that sounds remarkably fresh, whilst also clearly tipping its hat to the hazy late 70s rock era.
Public Access TV have managed to catch a niche that sounds remarkably fresh
With the longest track clocking in at 3:48, Public Access TV specialise in short, sharp pop songs, with lead-singer John Eatherley’s impeccable ear for melody and knowledge of the genre standing out as one of the album’s greatest strengths. Never Enough kicks off with the sun-drenched ‘In Our Blood’, complete with a jangly guitar riff and soaring chorus, before the unabashedly rock n’ roll ‘Evil Disco’ plays out like the strutting zinger ZZ Top wished they’d written.
Further highlights come in the form of garage rock anthem ‘I Don’t Wanna Live in California’, which plays host to the kind of fuzzy guitar solo not heard since the early 80s, whilst the hook filled ‘Patti Peru’ and the raucous yet simplistic ‘In Love and Alone’ are also standout moments. With so many short, punchy bursts, the album tears through its 38-minute duration, only stopping for breath on the reflective yet catchy ‘Careful’.
‘Never Enough’ is an album for the skinny jeans generation
“They say the kids don’t like rock n’ roll any more”, Eatherley ironically croons at the beginning of their most recent single ‘End of an Era’, a groovy indie rock track that laments the current state of the genre. They may not be the most gifted nor subtle lyricists, but they sure know their way around the general mechanics of what makes perfect rock n roll and don’t pull any punches. Never Enough is an album for the skinny jeans generation. Catchy riffs? Yep. Big choruses? Check. Irrepressibly cool? Of course. “Cool” is something that Public Access TV ooze, making them very much the archetypal New York band, the type you’d feel would be hanging out with Lou Reed and Bruce Springsteen if they’d been around in the mid-70s. However instead they join the likes of Sunflower Bean in leading the newest wave of bands looking to prove there’s still life in the veins of the oh-so-prolific New York rock music scene.
Never Enough is never going to be a game-changing album, it’s not even particularly special. If you’re looking for interesting time signatures, politically charged lyrics or progressive instrumentation, then pick up Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool. Will it be looked back at in 10 years time as a musical highlight of the 2010s? Who knows? Probably not, but that’s not the point. This is an album that wants to have fun, revel in nostalgic guitar lines (without being dependent on the past) and stick two fingers up to pretentious hipsters sitting in pop-up bars in Shoreditch confessing their love for neo-psychedelic dream-pop. Which brings me back to the question, “is rock music dead?” It may very well be, but Public Access TV don’t seem to care.