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Saint Audio Selects: Instead-a Van Fleet

Some time ago, I heard a band come up on my Spotify Discover Weekly, and I vividly remember forgetting them with a resounding “meh.” But little by little, they kept popping up, either again in Spotify, or I’d see something about them in some article in passing. Hell, at one point, I think a friend may have sent me a link to one of their songs, which I also responded to with a resounding “meh,” as I tend to do.

That band was Greta Van Fleet. This week these little incursions they’ve been making into my reality came in the form of some bad reviews. It left me wondering if maybe there was an opportunity to be contrarian and find that the band is actually good, and those reviews are way off base. So I gave their new album Peace Warrior Whatever a fair shot. And by “fair shot,” I mean I heard as much as I could take, which was about half of the first song. I gave up when the a lyric that went like, something something, the land of ice and snow, came up. I felt like they’d just insulted me, my family and everyone I’ve ever loved. So, no, this is not a review.

But the truth is, it’s unfair to bash the band. Greta Van Fleet is just a group of kids who, without the marketing push, would likely develop past this Led Zeppelin idolization stage and maybe even become a good band before anyone heard of them. Or not, and they might still become big. Or they might have just been some local band for a little while and outgrown it altogether. They now have to do that in the spotlight.

I recently removed Led Zeppelin from my Spotify library. There were two reasons for this. One is that Spotify ridiculously limits your library and I had to make room. But the bigger reason was that I’ve found myself skipping them more and more. I’m 45 and should be all about classic rock. I should be bitching about “music today” and telling kids they don’t know shit. But I’m not because, quite simply, I actually like music for its own sake, not just to remember “the good ole days.” I’m not saying I don’t enjoy classic artists—I do. But that’s not all I enjoy, and it’s definitely not my bread and butter. I still like Zeppelin, but if Spotify has given me anything, it’s been the ability to expand my horizon in ways I only ever dreamed of. So instead of Zeppelin, I went deeper into the blues than I ever could pre-Spotify and quite honestly, that’s way more interesting than anything Zep ever did.

But when you love music, eras and genres are not barriers. I wouldn’t say they are completely irrelevant, but I can easily jump from The Beatles to RL Burnside to Tori Amos to Depeche Mode to Arctic Monkeys to Frank Sinatra to Deap Vally to Ana Tijoux to Otis Redding and on and on. Nothing depresses me more than people my age who spout the idea that any version of music today sucks. It’s literally never been easier to find new music.

Spotify’s algorithm gives us imitators and people are eating it up. Because as easy as it might be to find new music or even old music you’d never heard of, people are just too damned lazy to do that on their own. Oh, they’ll search for a stupid GIF or whatever, but music? Fuck that. Which, okay, maybe music isn’t your thing. But if that’s the case, then you don’t get to bitch about “kids today,” or rave about that great new band you just discovered that sounds exactly like whoever from back in the day.

But enough wild ranting. I have a playlist for you. It’s just a small sampling of current artists that may hit certain classic nerves, but aren’t stuck in the past by any stretch of the imagination. These are vibrant, viable and evolving musicians who prove with every release that rock is not dead—music today is actually better than it’s ever been. It’s my version of the list you should all give your dads that are stuck in the past to hopefully snap them into the present.

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