10 Bands That Prove Rock and Roll is Alive and Kicking (And Screaming)

Photo:  Nick Le

Photo: Nick Le


I’m a millennial rock and roll fan and I am ravenous.

But I’m not ravenous due to a lack of great rock and roll out there. In fact, I’m here to argue - as the title of this post states - that rock and roll is far from dead. No, I’m ravenous because of a couple reasons. One, I’m obsessed and just can’t get enough; I’m constantly on the prowl for music I haven’t discovered yet. And two, like anything worthwhile, finding great rock and roll that also clicks with you personally takes time and effort. I talk about this in my post about singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Tash Sultana, and this little slice of it basically sums up my thoughts:

So rock fans, it’s not that you’re hungry because of a lack of rock and roll. You’re hungry because the menu is lengthy and constantly changing. It’s it’s hard to decide what you want and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the options. And kind of overwhelm can keep us from seeking great music out, leaving us feeling like it’s not even out there. In the ever-expanding musical library of the internet, where do you even start your music search? This is what makes Top-40 mainstream pop artists the easy choice for a lot of people. You don’t really have to seek them out - they’re easy to access. It’s the musical equivalent to ditching the nice restaurant with the lengthy, complicated menu and hitting McDonalds instead.
— Love at First Listen: Tash Sultana

So, in the spirit of narrowing down the music search for my fellow hungry rock fans (I realize I compare music to food a lot - I can’t help it, both are vital sources of nourishment) I’ve compiled a list of 10 bands that prove rock and roll is not only alive, but thriving.

All these bands started in the last few years and are currently actively touring and/or creating music. This is not a “check out these brand new bands” list. This is a list of bands you would simply consider current and active, and most of all: bands that prove the millennial generation does indeed have rock and roll. Our boomer parents aren’t the only ones with rock gods to worship.

1. Reignwolf

Ok so Reignwolf is not actually a band, but rather the moniker of artist Jordan Cook. But he has the power of a full band, and I couldn’t resist including him as an example of how incredible rock and roll can be nowadays. And how there really are people who actually still play guitar, and skillfully!

I had a really hard time choosing one video to feature of Reignwolf here… I recommend you spend some time spiraling down the YouTube rabbit hole to watch more of his live performances. He’s completely mesmerizing, a true force of nature. Let’s just say the way this man plays his guitar is so soulful that it’s almost sinister.

2. Gem and the Dead Heads

I found out about Gem and the Deadheads when a song of theirs played on an episode of Black Mirror. I opened my Shazam app the second their song “Bang Bang There Goes My Pistol” started playing, and what it led me to was an album with zero skippable songs.

By the way, Shazam is how I find most of my favorite music these days. If you want a tool that will let you know what song is playing wherever you are, I highly recommend you download that shit if you don’t have it already. It’s especially great if you’re a TV junkie like me who’s constantly wanting to know what song is playing in the scene you’re watching. I’d venture to say that music supervisors for TV shows are today’s unsung heroes of great music curation.

3. Gary Clark Jr.

Pure. Unadulterated. Blues. And soul. And funk. And hip hop. Wow, is unadulterated even the right word for an artist who expertly mixes so many elements and references into his style? My answer is yes, actually. Because rock and roll, by it’s very nature, has always been about mixing styles together to create something raw, beautiful, and human. That’s what Gary Clark Jr. does, while also bringing his rock and roll back to the basics that never fail. He taps in to something timeless with his sound.

4. Royal Blood

When I heard that the quiet legend of Led Zeppelin Jimmy Fucking Paige had actually come out and praised a current band, I of course had to immediately check them out. And you know what? I was far from disappointed. In fact, I was left practically salivating after I watched the video I’ve posted here. Two guys. One guitar, one drum set, and a powerhouse of resulting sound. That’s it, no bullshit. No wonder Jimmy Paige is into them. (Can you imagine being a band today knowing that Jimmy Paige is a fan of yours?? Like, do you maybe just retire at that point?)

5. Roman Remains

I’m so excited about Roman Remains. They’ve been on repeat in the background of my life for the past year or so and I can’t get enough of their one album, Zeal. (Roman Remains, please release another album!!) On one hand, they pretty much pick up what Garbage started in the 90’s by mixing rock and roll with electronic elements, which is a recipe for some delicious alt-rock. On the other hand, Roman Remains has a fresh sound that is purely now. I want more. Please.

6. The Delta Riggs

I saw the Delta Riggs perform at the Viper Room a couple years ago, a few blocks away from my old apartment in West Hollywood. If you haven’t been to the Viper Room (which feels like just that, an intimate room almost too small to be called a venue), what it basically means is you are right up against the band for an up-close-and-personal-I’m-so-close-their-sweat-could-drip-on-me experience. Needless to say, it was incredible.

Aside from the song I’ve posted here, I highly recommend you at least listen to their song “Perfume and Lace” from their album Hex.Lover.Killer. But ideally, I’d say listen to that whole album.

7. Fidlar

I discovered Fidlar at a time in which I needed them most. It was a few years ago when I was trying to be an actor in LA. Sorry, I should rephrase that: I was barely trying to be an actor in LA. What I really was at the time was a slacker who didn’t know what to do with my life, and Fidlar were the friends who gave a voice to my loserdom.

Their music is for the misfits of the world; the disenfranchised, the bored, the lost, the unmotivated, the uninspired. If you’re in that kind of phase right now, or if you just want some good old 90’s-tinged punk rock a la Green Day or the Beastie Boys, I whole-heartedly recommend Fidlar.

8. Wolf Alice

First of all, I’m on board with any band that has a song called “Moaning Lisa Smile”. I mean, with that, I’m immediately in. But aside from that outstanding first impression, Wolf Alice is another band that delivers a nostalgic 90’s rock sound while still feeling utterly now. Like, if you took the band from the prom scene of 10 Things I Hate About You and injected it with a dose of current alt-rock, I’m pretty sure the resulting creature would be Wolf Alice. A creature that has the best kind of howl.

9. Little Barrie

Little Barrie delivers surfer psychedelia with a darkness that simmers beneath the surface. I mean, the fact that they have a song called “Surf Hell” is a pretty blatant demonstration of the vibe they’re going for: the subversion of a style known for it’s carefree, sunny, “surf’s up” mindset into something that feels, maybe, slightly evil? Or like something evil is lurking beneath the waves? Or that a storm is brewing, and Little Barrie is that feeling you get in your bones when the atmosphere changes?

Whatever it is, I can’t get enough of this dark and sunny juxtaposition from Little Barrie. I’ve seriously worn their albums out. Shout out to my friend and fellow music worshipper Jen for turning me on to these guys!

10. The Pretty Reckless

You may know Taylor Momsen as Little J from Gossip Girl, then immediate write her off as another pretty actress turned singer. But I’m here to tell you that she is the REAL FUCKING DEAL. This girl has lived, breathed, and bled rock and roll since she was a kid. In interviews, she speaks passionately about bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Nirvana, and Soundgarden (I could go on) with the reverence of a true, devoted fan.

Her songs are well written, incredibly sung, and powerfully performed live. No, Taylor Momsen is not an actress-turned singer. She’s really a singer/songwriter who had a brief stint on a CW show when she was a kid, then returned to her raison d’être with the Pretty Reckless. I will fight anyone to the death defending Taylor Momsen.

Dearly beloved, we gather here to… celebrate the fact that rock and roll is alive and kicking! To those who say otherwise, I recommend you just keep your ears open and your Shazam app at the ready. It will be like discovering your long lost friend who you thought was dead has actually been partying hard on private island all this time. your invitation got lost in the mail, but you’re always invited to join the revelry.

Do you have any music recommendations? Any bands you’re crazy for? Tell me who you’re into in the comments!

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Hey there! I’m Steffi, creator of Moda Misfit - a lifestyle blog that aims to inspire you to embrace who you are and express your creative self through decor, fashion, & music. We're all Moda Misfits here!

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