As eager as we are to say that “rock is dead,” how many people can explain why? You can blame the sales all you want or you can blame The Culture™, but what is it about the supposed winning cultures that keep it winning for so long? What is rock missing? Personally, I think it is really missing a sense of actual positivity. I don’t mean unicorns and rainbows, but something that feels like it is truly from a tender place without a sense of blandness. It could also be missing more racial diversity than is present in the rock mainstream, but we can tackle that element another time.
Quinton Brock, a New York rock artist who was also a member of lo-fi garage rock band Da Get Money Squad with avant-pop auteur Jon Bap, has been peddling the campaign to “change rock music forever.” If you have seen the state of rock music, it has been desperate for a revival. The question is how exactly does he plan to do it? By injecting a sense of fun, approachability, coolness, if you will. This can be felt by anyone who has shook hands with the guy, and it even comes off within the music. But if the lyrics say anything, the coolness does not come without a sense of emotional vulnerability.
Take first single, “To the Moon,” for example. The story behind it was that Brock’s girl had left him right around the time his dog had died, but Brock is not interested in trying to drag you in the pool of his misery. Rather, it’s channeled into a song that is anthemic enough to make any listener howl the wordless chorus with him. The sense of desperation is also expressed in the poppy album closer, “Wannabe,” featuring psychedelic pop band Portugal. The Man, where imposter syndrome plagues him at every turn. Before you get there, you have to get past the explosive title track with plenty of guitar solos and inspirations to inspire feet shuffling through it all. All the while, Brock is discussing his shadow self that he has yet to truly tackle. And oh, does he.
My Shadow sounds like a modern version of that halfway point between blues and rock n’ roll. You know the kind of rock music that used to be played in juke joints that our moms and dads met in? You can’t hear Brock sing, “The kids ain’t got no soul, not anymore/don’t get me started ’cause we’re brokenhearted” and without picturing him in a suit while someone on the floor is doing the twist or shuffle. But the lyrics hold a wisdom that young depression is to be more empathized by older generations than to be found repulsive.
Brock also gives voices to other artists, like Gym Class Heroes frontman Travie McCoy and returning musical chameleon Pink Siifu. McCoy tackles worldwide racism with the fervor of a hardcore punk artist, and Siifu trades introverted musings over a 5/4 time signature with Brock, who is stuck questioning the compliments that fail to parlay him into a successful career. “Contracts passing me/I feel like an athlete”, Brock sighs.
“If you’re my nigga, be my nigga/I ain’t with that shaky feedback/tell me if my shit’s wack, I need that.” But in a time where people can’t entirely agree on the thoughts of whether or not rock has a future and black people more than ever are eager to take rock n’ roll back and do whatever they please with it, that’s least likely the case.
Will Quinton Brock change rock music forever? That depends on how many people plan to discover his work. But in the meantime, My Shadow is a stylistically diverse bounce between garage rock, blues rock and pop punk that should more than satisfy any ears that let it in. Those who choose to will find themselves as soothed as they are eager to dance everything away.