Alternative -Indie Rock (View Rockommendations)
Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock or simply alternative) is a genre of (you guessed it!) rock that emerged in the 1980s and became widely popular in the 1990s; a popularity that has continued well into the 21st century...especially on college radio. It contains a number of the subgenres that have emerged from the independent music scene since the 1980s...such as grunge, Britpop, Goth, and indie pop. These genres owe a stylistic debt to punk, which laid the groundwork in the '70s.
While a few bands like R.E.M. and The Cure achieved commercial success and mainstream critical recognition, many alternative artists in the '80s were cult acts that recorded on independent labels and received their exposure through college radio airplay and word-of-mouth. With the breakthrough of Nirvana and the popularity of the grunge and Britpop movements in the '90s, alt rock entered the musical mainstream and many alternative bands became - and remained - commercially successful.
It may only be rock and roll...but we like it!!
AOR (Album-Oriented Rock) (View Rockommendations)
Turn on virtually any rock radio station (like Classic Rock) and this is what you're most likely to hear: straight-ahead, 4/4, single-oriented rock...including such subgenres as Hard Rock, Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock (or Prog).
Some of the bands that dominate AOR playlists are Aerosmith, The Doors, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner, Journey, Led Zeppelin, REO Speedwagon and Styx. Mixed in are the most radio-friendly hits by Metal artists like Judas Priest, Metallica and Ozzy Osbourne as well as prog artists like Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP), Genesis, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd and Yes.
You won't find a ton of AOR music on RockTunz...just some of the best we can find.
Avant Rock (View Rockommendations)
Also known as Avant Prog, this genre includes music that is difficult to classify and, for the uninitiated, can be difficult to listen to. Incorporating many rock and jazz elements, avant rock falls comfortably into neither camp. Its atypical, untraditional and experimental song structure features discordance and a seeming lack of a hummable melody or foot-tapping rhythms...making it a very challenging experience...for musician and listener alike. Instrumentation and equipment can be traditional (guitar, keys, drums, etc.) or...not so much.
Like head cheese, chocolate-covered ants or escargot smothered in garlic butter, this music is an acquired taste.
Frank Zappa brilliantly flirted with this genre on a regular basis...and fans of his will find plenty to enjoy here. You may even be pushed into places never previously imagined!
"Leap And The Net Will Appear!" ~ Zen Saying
Blues Rock (View Rockommendations)
Like the Toyota Prius – and virtually all of our featured genres - blues rock is a hybrid...combining bluesy improvisations over the 12-bar blues and extended boogie jams with rock and roll styles.
The blues rock sound is – more often than not - created by electric guitar, bass guitar and drum kit, with the electric guitar usually fed through a tube guitar amplifier, giving it an overdriven and “dirty” sound.
“Classic Rock Radio” wouldn’t be very classic without some of its best-known practitioners of the art. Amongst them: Aerosmith, The Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin and Stevie Ray Vaughan...to name just a few.
Though we don't sport much blues rock, we know we’ll be adding more as time goes on so, if rockin’ the blues is your cup of tea...please keep checking back with us.
And…if you are a good rockin’ blues musician…send us your stuff and we’ll help you get it out there to sell!
Canterbury (View Rockommendations)
This subset (and, arguably, the origins) of Progressive Rock (prog) popped up out of the Canterbury region of England...and the name stuck. To go along with their jazzy influences, these young musicians started creating a more whimsical, yet still fairly complex brand of rock...along with a solid injection of their dry, British humor. Compositions range from shorter songs to longer, semi-symphonic suites.
Caravan, Gong, Happy The Man, the Soft Machine, National Health, Hatfield and the North and, to some extent, Camel, are some of the best examples of this thoroughly enjoyable, wide-ranging musical genre.
Celtic Rock (View Rockommendations)
This variation on the rock theme fuses traditional Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Breton (an ethnic group located in France’s Brittany region) music and instrumentation with – in case you hadn’t already guess - rock.
The ballads, jigs and reels that were originally played using fiddles, tin whistles, Celtic harps, concertinas, accordions and Irish bagpipes are combined with conventional rock and the result is a wonderfully unique musical strain. Warm, lively and generally quite upbeat, listeners shouldn’t be surprised to feel a smile or two grace their faces as they listen to Celtic Rock.
In many circles, Ireland’s Horslips is given credit for fathering this genre in 1970.
Among those who have later served up some of these delightful Celtic Rock cocktails are Mike Oldfield, Steeleye Span and Loreena McKennitt.
Again, we don’t have a plethora of bands in this genre, but…if you’re a neophyte to these parts, you might want to lend your ears to the different approaches offered by Chris Audren and Shannon here on RockTunz.
And…may you be in music heaven five minutes before the Devil knows you’ve started listening!
Electronic (View Rockommendations)
As can be discerned from the name, this genre focuses on music and sounds created by non-acoustic instruments…primarily – but not limited to – keyboards and arose in parallel to the advent of the synthesizer (for which we owe our eternal gratitude to Robert Moog).
Guitar(s) and drums are used, as well, with sounds made through their own amplification or subjected to “treatment” by being channeled through the various electronics and synthesizers.
Moreover, one might hear another of Mr. Moog’s inventions, the Theremin.
Practitioners of the art have run the gamut from shaping pure sound to the creation of more structured music…from light pop to dramatic symphonic compositions.
Amongst the more well-known are Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream, though many of these sonic tapestries have been created in the world of 21st Century classical music.
Within RockTunz, you’ll also see some artists overlap in Space Rock and New Symphonia.
Hard Rock (View Rockommendations)
Let’s see. Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Van Halen, Uriah Heep, Iron Butterfly, Ted Nugent. That’s who built the foundation, gave rise to Metal and influenced virtually every other rock form…including and especially Prog Rock. Need we say more?
We may not be offering any of the music from these bands (don't think they really need our help!) , but you’ll find some of their names in our Rockommender Search Engine that will help guide you to music you’re sure to enjoy! Rock On!!!
Heavy Metal (View Rockommendations)
Rumor has it that this kick-ass genre was started by Black Sabbath in the late '60s.
Ably aided by Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and, arguably, Cream (and, lest we forget, The Strawberry Alarm Clock!)...Metal grabbed the throats of fans and industry execs alike.
Amongst the ton of great bands who have tightened the grip are Metallica, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Motörhead, Rainbow and Pantera...to name just a few.
Metal has spawned many subgenres (like Thrash, Death, Power, Black, Doom and Speed) and provided one of the two key ingredients to the stew we now know - and enjoy - as Progressive Metal.
And...fear not! We intend to get a lot more!!
Jazz-Rock or Fusion (View Rockommendations)
Just as the name suggests, this genre combines - or "fuses" - jazz and rock or, if you prefer...rock and jazz.
Applying the term to the music featured here on RockTunz, a variety of jazz elements (such as chord structures and progressions) are injected into a rock framework giving us tunz that are jazzier than progressive rock and more structured than pure jazz.
Quite often, a good and intelligent sense of humor can be detected...especially with some of the song titles (you gotta call them something!)
Its roots can be traced back to Miles Davis' 1969 album, "In a Silent Way." This groundbreaking work featured contributions by such luminaries as: Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul (Weather Report), Tony Williams (Tony Williams Lifetime) and a young guitarist named John McLaughlin (Mahavishnu Orchestra).
Prior to that, Chick Corea (Return to Forever) and Herbie Hancock worked with Miles as they started building the bridge from jazz to rock.
And, let's not forget about the Brand X boys...who added their indelible mark in the late '70s and '80s.
Bottom line: this is exciting stuff...created and played by some undeniable virtuosos.
Neo-Progressive (View Rockommendations)
Also called Neo-Prog, this genre is the third most voluminous category here on RockTunz...just below its kissing cousin, Symphonic Rock...with which it shares many characteristics...including our undying love. :-)
The prefix Neo (new) was applied to the progressive music started in Jolly Ol' England in the late '70s/early '80s. The brave pioneers carrying the Union Jack were Twelfth Night (1979-80), Marillion ('82), IQ ('83), Pallas ('84) and Pendragon ('85). Indeed, many other bands joined the fray, but the aforementioned are widely acknowledged as the pillars of this large neo-prog tent.
Yet, even while this music was re-energizing the (arguably) fading fortunes of progressive rock, some of the prog faithful were some of Neo's biggest detractors. Among the many misconceptions put forth was that this music was less complex than Papa Prog. A little quality time with early Marillion or IQ will quickly dispel this myth.
Rather than run the risk of boring you with the details and debunking of the other fabrications, we'll enthusiastically refer you to "The Progressive Rock Handbook," written by the outstanding Canadian music historian, Jerry Lucky.
Read this book and you'll come away with more information about prog than you ever thought possible...not to mention, the enviable ability to wow your friends at parties.
And, if that's not enough, check out "The Progressive Rock Files," also penned by the prolific Mr. Lucky.
As previously mentioned, Neo-Prog has much in common with Symphonic Rock so, no need to repeat what's already been written...and easily accessed. Where it diverts is in the inclusion of rock's more harsh, angular and aggressive elements. The edges that are smoother in Symphonic, come into much sharper relief in Neo.
That said, both genres have the exceptional ability to take you on many an emotional and satisfying ride. So, here's your ticket...hop on!!
New Symphonia (View Rockommendations)
If this moniker is new to you, don't fret...RockTunz wants to be the first to coin it. It's not even in Wikipedia!
Well, the name may be new, but the music it describes has been around for damn near 40 years...erroneously and libelously thrust under the reviled New Age tag. So, don't let that dissuade you from checking it out.
Without a doubt, this genre can be quite relaxing. While some take their cues from classical music's best symphonic works, while others melodically inject Celtic, folk or jazz elements. And, lurking beneath that gentle patina lie some deceptively intense and rocky undercurrents.
Beethoven and Mozart were two Classical composers who beautifully explored those wide dynamics; Mike Oldfield and Gandalf have done likewise and inspired the New Symphonia label. Arguably, many of their albums can be rightfully compared to some of the world's most memorable symphonic compositions.
So, let The Rockommender guide you to what RockTunz' New Symphonia artists and bands have to offer. You won't be disappointed!
Sometimes we all need to smooth out the edges of a rough day.
Power Metal (View Rockommendations)
The short version: Power Metal is - for the most part - a melodic, balls-to-the-wall hybrid of hard rock and metal (think Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher"). For added color and flavor, you'll often hear some tasty acoustic guitar, symphonic flourishes and ballad-like vocals.
The lyrics are filled with stories of all kinds and, unlike their more hardcore metal cousins, you'll have an easier time understanding what's being sung and getting engaged.
Any way you slice it, boredom will not be a problem. Great driving music...one of our newest genres and, one that's growing by leaps and bounds!
Now...for the more "technical" explanation. :-)
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Power metal is a style of heavy metal music combining characteristics of traditional metal with speed metal, often within symphonic context. The term refers to two different but related styles: the first pioneered and largely practiced in North America with a harder sound similar to speed metal, and a later more widespread and popular style based in Europe (especially Germany, Italy, Scandinavia), Brazil and Japan (early Visual Kei bands) with a lighter, more melodic sound and frequent use of keyboards.
Power metal is today associated with fast tempo and melodic harmonies, the sound tempered by characteristics of speed metal, power metal's musical forerunner.
Power metal is highly focused on the vocalist, with "clean" vocals being much more prevalent than the growling vocals often associated with death metal and black metal. Following in the tradition of Ronnie James Dio (Rainbow, Black Sabbath), Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), Rob Halford (Judas Pries) and other heavy metal vocalists, power metal vocals are often in a high register. The majority of the genre's vocalists sing in the tenor range, capable of hitting very high notes. There are however many exceptions who sing in either baritone or bass range, or even make use of growls. Many power metal vocalists record multi-layered vocals reminiscent of Queen, creating a choral effect.
Power metal's lyrical themes, though as varied as metal itself, often focus on fantasy and mythology, camaraderie and hope, personal struggles and emotions, war and death, or combinations of the listed themes. Many otherwise typical metal themes such as religion and politics are comparatively rare but not unheard of.
Power metal guitarists and bassists generally play rapid streams of notes, but change chords comparatively slowly, with a harmonic tempo of once per measure or slower. Fast and demanding guitar solos, however, are almost guaranteed. The slow changing of chords are significant in defining power metal just as the fast rapid chord changes often define traditional thrash metal. Power metal often makes use of Major chord progressions as well as circle progressions. Some of the most influential and imitated power metal guitarists are Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray), Michael Weikath (Helloween) and Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius), currently of Symfonia.
It is a common trait in power metal for the bass guitar to take a back seat, so to speak; often simply providing the chord root notes and being drowned out by the more prevalent rhythm guitars. However, some power metal bands incorporate bass that is more audible with colorful patterns distinct from the rhythm guitars, such as Helloween, Hibria, and Symphony X.
Many power metal drummers play with double bass pedals or two bass drums, utilizing them to play a constant stream of sixteenth notes (semiquavers) with snare drum accents on the beat, a style not restricted to, but most often associated with, power metal. The style was perfected by drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg of Helloween, setting a blueprint for many other drummers to follow. Others, such as the drummers of Blind Guardian and Iced Earth, use a more thrash metal style of drumming with rapid bursts of double bass that involve three to six beats with the double kick. Even more uncommon, but not unheard of, is the use of the blast beat.
Power metal bands often incorporate keyboards into their musical arrangements, something popularized by Jens Johansson (Stratovarius), though their usage varies from subtle accents to a full-blown melody line. Some power metal bands also record with symphonic elements, and as such, they utilize a full orchestra to fill the role usually played by the keyboardist.
Progressive Folk (View Rockommendations)
This variation on the progressive theme is, for the most part, gentler in nature than its rockier brethren. Acoustic instruments tend to lead the way while their electric counterparts (guitar, keyboards), if present, take on more of a supporting role.
Like in Symphonic Rock, melody is a key component. But, where Symphonic may have classical origins, Progressive Folk takes its cues from...uh...the folk music of its respective culture or nationality. Renaissance, troubadour-like melodies are not at all unusual here.
The protest movement of the American '60s relied heavily on Folk music to deliver its message...and, much of today's Progressive Folk proudly honors that tradition.
Though very electric at times, Jethro Tull and The Strawbs imbue their music with elements of this notable genre.
Progressive Metal (View Rockommendations)
Power...Passion...and Precision are three suitable adjectives for this intense genre.
Prog Metal - the masterful marriage of Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock - is music for the discriminating, intelligent head-banger. Its roots can be traced as far back as the late '60s/early '70s where bands like King Crimson, Rush, Cream, Blue Cheer and The Jeff Beck Group started laying the foundation.
Fates Warning, Queensryche and Dream Theater brilliantly advanced the bloodline and their music found its way into more ears than ever before. Porcupine Tree, Tool, Opeth, Pain of Salvation and Magellan are more great examples of bands that have skillfully expanded prog metal's vocabulary and color palette.
The explosion of prog metal groups throughout the world give testament to this genre's vibrancy and certain longevity.
We want to keep these definitions relatively short so, no doubt, we've left off a number of your favorites. For that, we humbly apologize. We are also expanding RockTunz' prog metal selection on an ongoing basis so, check back often!
Progressive Rock (View Rockommendations)
In the unlikely event that you had not yet noticed, Progressive Rock (or Prog, as we rabid fans like to call it) is the lifeblood of RockTunz and the inspiration its creation.
Spawned by Rock itself, prog came into its own in the early-to-mid '60s and fathered virtually all of the other genres presented here on RockTunz.
Prog's grandfather, however, was a little-known English band called The Wilde Flowers. Formed in 1963, they morphed into the first iteration of The Soft Machine in the summer of 1966 and, in 1968...opened up for this dude named, uh, Jimi Hendrix. Rumor has it that he played electric guitar...left-handed, no less.
Though that gig did not make The Soft Machine a household name, some of the names that sprouted from The Soft Machine's family tree might be a bit more familiar. Amongst them: Caravan, Gong, Roxy Music, Phil Manzanera's Quiet Sun and 801 (with Brian Eno), The Police, Hatfield & The North, National Health and Brand X.
Just as that tree was starting to bear branches, seedlings from another source were planted in 1967 under the moniker of Giles, Giles and Fripp...the latter's first name: Robert. That quirky band went nowhere and, after a little re-tooling, a slightly more successful and influential band was born: King Crimson. Over its 40+-year existence, the six (or less) degrees of separation can be traced out to a few other notables. Amongst the many: Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Genesis, Yes and Porcupine Tree.
Tilling their own fertile fields during this time was, of course...Camel, Pink Floyd, Rush, Jethro Tull and (on the more spacey, electronic side) Tangerine Dream. Need we say more about their legacy and influence? I think not.
Meanwhile, other parts of Europe were joining the fray, as well. Amongst them were France (Ange) and Italy (PFM and Le Orme).
What does need to be said is that Prog Rock has helped build the foundation for Classic Rock Radio. Tune in and you won't have to wait long before hearing Floyd, Rush, Tull, Genesis, Yes, ELP or Kansas. Despite that fact, precious few other prog bands have attained their level of popularity.
OK...enough history and horticulture. Let's talk music. After all, that's why you're here, right?
The most basic definition of Progressive Rock is that it's a creative blend of rock, jazz, classical, theatre and performance art. Though rock provides the basic structure, prog is not bound by any of its basic rules.
Consequently, songs are not constrained by particular length, topic (yes, there can be more to the lyrics than love or angst), overall content or meter (rhythmic pattern). The tunz can stand alone or be part of a larger story, concept or theme...and are not restricted to the standard 4/4 time signature. Odd tempos and rhythms are quite common in prog and give the music a wider range of expression.
And, though prog shares the same core instrumentation as rock (guitar, bass, drums and keyboards), progressive musicians are free to add virtually...anything. They can be electric, electronic or acoustic; borne out of the orchestra or from their own cultural folk traditions. Listen carefully and you might even hear the kitchen sink.
Two instruments, though, seem to be exclusive to prog's world: the mellotron and bass pedals. The former is a keyboard that creates that distinct, ethereal and melancholy (sometimes mournful) string sound while the latter produces that visceral bottom end that demands the inclusion of a subwoofer in your sound system. Hearing either of those incredible instruments live is an experience in and of itself!
Bottom line: the lack of boundaries gives Progressive Rock an almost infinite palette from which to draw and create. And, though a high level of technical expertise is needed to successfully meld all the individual elements, this can be some of the most emotional music ever composed or heard!
If you're already into prog, there's a TON of new stuff just waiting for you to discover. If, however, you're a neophyte...welcome to this world of amazing music! You may, indeed, wonder why it's been kept a "secret" for so long...but, once you open your ears to the possibilities...your head and heart will thank you for it!
Once again, for the most comprehensive explanations and descriptions of this amazing genre (and tons of reviews), we recommend The Progressive Rock Handbook" and "The Progressive Rock Files" by the excellent music historian, Jerry Lucky.
We encourage and invite your feedback, as well. All comments can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We sincerely thank you for reading and visiting...and hope that RockTunz becomes your musical site of choice!
Space Rock (View Rockommendations)
This trippy genre can trace its origins to bands like Pink Floyd, Hawkwind and Tangerine Dream and the psychedelic music of the '60s. The Beatles, Stones and David Bowie offered their own takes on Space Rock, as well. It's no secret that some choice pharmaceuticals were involved in the composing - and listening to - many (most?) of these songs.
Electric guitar and keyboards were the primary instruments used to create the extended, trance-like "spacey" jams and atmospheres that allowed listeners to lose themselves and float along with the slow-developing melodies. No doubt, the word, "Wow!" and black light posters provided audio/visual accompaniment.
If lyrics were used, they usually revolved around cosmic, science fiction or "We are One with the Universe" themes.
In these recessionary days, Space Rock can provide a cheap way to take a mental vacation.
Symphonic Rock (View Rockommendations)
This incredible offshoot of Progressive Rock borrows its style and structure from classical music and is blended with the electric, more direct elements of rock.
It is dramatic and grandiose...with passages that can alternate between loud and soft...fast and slow...simple and complex...producing music that can be every bit as moving and dynamic as some of the best classical symphonies.
Like so many of those memorable works, a key element in Symphonic Rock is melody: passages that rattle around in our heads resulting in (almost) uncontrollable humming or whistling. They're tunes that grab you and render you apathetic - or oblivious - to the odd looks of passers-by.
This genre is known, too, for its exploration of concepts...or stories...within the music. Yes, Virginia...there are lyrics that go beyond, "Oh, baby/I want you/I need you/Gotta have you."
Think about your favorite books or movies. Did they capture your imagination and transport you to worlds beyond? Or, perhaps they professed a philosophy that caused you to reflect upon - or challenge - your own. This, too, is what the best Symphonic Rock has to offer.
The composer that deftly mixes all the above ingredients, craftily adds shifting moods and atmospheres...gives the listener an emotional experience not soon to be forgotten.
If you've ever spent any quality time with the grand-daddies of of this genre...Genesis, Yes, ELP or The Moody Blues...then you know from whence we speak.
Zeuhl (View Rockommendations)
Zeuhl (Pronounced Zool) means `celestial' in Kobaïan, the constructed language created by the genre's French founder...drummer Christian Vander.
Originally solely applied to the music of Vander's band, Magma, the term Zeuhl was eventually used to describe the similar music produced by French bands, beginning in the mid-'70s.
Though primarily a French phenomenon, Zeuhl has influenced recent avant-garde Japanese bands.
Zeuhl typically blends progressive rock, symphonic rock, fusion, neoclassicism, aspects of rock in opposition (RIO) and vocal elements of African-American spirituals and Western military call and response.
Typically, Zeuhl includes dissonance, marching themes, throbbing bass, intense guitar, keyboards (including piano, Rhodes piano, or organ), brass instruments and, in Magma's case...a backing chorus.
"Zeuhl sounds like, well, about what you'd expect an alien rock opera to sound like: massed, chanted choral motifs, martial, repetitive percussion, sudden bursts of explosive improv and just as unexpected lapses into eerie, minimalist trance-rock." ~Dominique Leone, Review of Magma's 2004 album K.A ["Kohntarkösz Anteria"] on Pitchfork Media.
On a more personal note: I had the unique pleasure of seeing Magma at ProgFest '99 in San Francisco. And...what an INCREDIBLE experience it was!!
Admittedly, their music is not the easiest to digest, but in this live setting...it was absolutely mesmerizing!
I was especially struck by the reverence shown to Vander - throughout their performance - by the musicians in his band...most of whom were half his age. It was as if they were as awestruck as we were!