I have a love-hate relationship with T-95.
The Rock Station that has been a staple of the Wichita area for 35 years—T-95 celebrated its 35th birthday bash at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium this week—has played the top rock songs on the radio from the past several decades of rock. T-95 thrives on its “Mandatory Metallica” slot and plays top hits from Guns 'N Roses, AC/DC, Rush and most other classic bands.
While that all is great, because, after all, that generation of rock music might still be the best of all time, there’s still a part of me that wishes T-95 would be less like the newer 107.3 “The Brew,” which actually is a classic rock station. T-95 has an imbalance with newer rock music that needs to be readjusted.
Granted, it's not like T-95 doesn't know about the existence of new bands. Avenged Sevenfold, a Nu-metal type band, Three Days Grace and others are frequent throughout, but the variety isn't that great. And yes, T-95 plays bands like Three Doors Down, Foo Fighters, Rise Against, Tool and other somewhat more modern bands, but even a lot of those have been around for a long time. There really is a need for a rock station that plays purely new stuff, even from bands that no one's heard of that much.
Of course, therein lies one problem. There aren't a lot of newer bands that really seem to have that much longevity. Well, there are, but not the kind that appeal to the mass audience that mainstream radio needs to appease. There are a lot of nu-metal and scream bands that appeal to the younger generation, but it seems more younger audiences tune in to hip-hop, pop and even techno-sounding garbage that plagues 96.3 (yes, there are several good songs within that genre, but there are far more songs that aren't).
But lately, especially this summer, there has been a mini-resurgence of newer rock music on T-95 that has cracked its rotation. It's been refreshing to hear the newer hard rock sound
Top new rock songs I've heard this year:
"Torn to Pieces" by Pop Evil: It's a slower paced song by a band that normally plays far more hardcore stuff, but this single is beautiful. The soft-on-the-ears guitar has such a clean sound, while the drums and bass both have a strong, yet reserved, presence. Leigh Kakaty, the band's frontman, has an interesting emotional lightness to it for a song that evokes sorrow and hurt. Great slow hard rock song.
"Drown" by Theory of a Dead Man: Strong power chords dance around the rhythm in this smooth, but powerful, rock track. The lead guitar solo leaves a little to be desired, but there's a defining sound as the instruments blend with the vocals.
"Take Out The Gunman" by Chevelle: Yes, Chevelle has been around for nearly 20 years, but the band's new album "La Gargola" is reinvigorating. While there are some nice metal highlights with whispery vocals to go along with their beats that aren't much more than on par with their other stuff, "Take Out The Gunman" is easily one of their best songs on the CD. There is a unique intro and underlying percussion section when the song builds, and there is huge crashing while the beat and rhythm play off each other to perfection.
"Hail To The King" by Avenged Sevenfold: Lead singer M. Shadows brings back his uniquely recognizable voice to the forefront of the band's leadoff single from their new album by the same title. Okay, the album came out last year, but still, it's really good. There are plenty of other tracks on the CD that no doubt have potential to be billboard hits.
"Painkiller" by Three Days Grace: This newest single of theirs harks back to their older stuff (not that they've changed their sound that much through the years anyway, and kudos to them for that). It's got a strong, solid riff throughout the track with snare rolls not unlike their older hit "I Hate Everything About You." The change-of-pace bridge is a nice twist. The lyrics are catchy as well.
"Words as Weapons" by Seether: Though this isn't necessarily a favorite of mine, Seether's leadoff self-title single has a catchy tune. The sound has some of Seether's classic sounds, but there's actually quite a lot of different stuff going on, including the piano rhythm and vocal arrangement, which highlights back-ups. The song isn't as bass and power-driven as most of their stuff, but the lyrics of this track are packed with strong messages.
I'm sure there are plenty of other tracks that I've heard recently that could be on this list, but just knowing that there has been a new crop of rock making the rounds has refocused my attention to track down any song I think sounds good so I can download it.
For any of you classic rock lovers, there still has been some new stuff for you, as well. Fans of Slash were treated to an awesome new track "Anastasia" not quite two years ago, and it had all the guitar-solo, old-school goodness to it while bringing a fresh flavor. Several other classic bands are still chugging along at well, so there's plenty of new stuff for everyone to listen to. A newer (harder-rock, almost scream-o) band I've stumbled across, Bring Me The Horizon, has piqued my interest, and the news of Breaking Benjamin getting back together earlier this year will keep my hopes up; they're my favorite band maybe ever.
I'm just saying.