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2013's Best Rock Songs (So Far)

muse best songs 2013

What have been the top tracks of the year? Muse's "Panic Station" made the cut, but another band landed at No. 1.

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Rock Music Spotlight10

Rock Music

This Is the End

Friday May 31, 2013

It is with much sadness that I report that this is my final blog post as the Guide for Rock Music here at About.com. The decision has been made to cease publishing new content, although the reviews, articles, interviews and lists that I've written over the last five years will remain on this site.

It has been a pleasure writing about rock music, especially during a period of uncertainty in the genre. Since 2008, we've seen a crop of new (or newish) bands carry the torch for a younger generation -- Alabama Shakes, Kings of Leon and the Black Keys immediately spring to mind -- while at the same time bands from the 1990s like Jane's Addiction, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains have tried to recapture past glories by reuniting recently. This site, which was tasked with chronicling contemporary rock from the '90s to the present, has always sought to find that middle ground between the aging legends of classic rock and the more experimental leanings of alternative music. That proved to be an interesting challenge as rock continues to see its market share shrink. The most obvious sign of this was when Billboard near the end of last year radically redesigned its rock singles charts, essentially banishing most of what would be considered traditional rock for more pop-leaning artists. There are still plenty of good rock bands out there, but they have a hard time making a dent on radio or in the public consciousness.

Consequently, this site's unofficial mission has been to document what exactly constitutes "rock" in the 21st century. Long replaced by hip-hop and other genres as the dominant and most culturally significant musical art forms of the age, rock has faced something of an identity crisis, wrestling between retreating into the past or trying to stake out new territory. Retro groups like the White Stripes have managed to do both simultaneously, but they're that rare exception. It's difficult to guess where rock will go in the future, but I'm sorry that I won't be covering it here at About.

I want to thank you, the readers, for your thoughtful emails and lively discussions over the last five years. It's been a treat to run this site, and I hope you enjoyed what I brought to it. If you'd like to stay in touch, you can reach me at my personal blog as well as on Twitter. By the way, I titled this blog post somewhat in jest. Since the rise of punk in the late '70s, naysayers have been sounding the death knell for rock 'n' roll. Despite its creative peaks and valleys since, the music has never gone away. Every supposed "end" of rock music has simply been a transitional period before some exciting new permutation. This site may be wrapping up, but the music it covered is far from finished.

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Nine Inch Nails Releasing First Album in Five Years

Wednesday May 29, 2013
In November of last year, Trent Reznor hinted that the newly reactivated Nine Inch Nails could get around to putting out new music. ("All signs point to yes," Reznor said at the time. "Yeah, there will be new music. There are some things in the works.") Yesterday, just days after unveiling the band's new touring lineup, Reznor revealed what had been suspected for a while: He's been working on a NIN album.

"I've been less than honest about what I've really been up to lately," he wrote in an official announcement. "For the last year I've been secretly working non-stop with Atticus Ross and Alan Moulder on a new, full-length Nine Inch Nails record, which I am happy to say is finished and frankly [expletive] great. This is the real impetus and motivation behind the decision to assemble a new band and tour again. My forays into film, HTDA and other projects really stimulated me creatively and I decided to focus that energy on taking Nine Inch Nails to a new place. Here we go!"

This enthusiasm is a far cry from where he was in the summer of 2009 when he sounded positively burned out on Nine Inch Nails. "I've just reached the point ... where it has invaded every other aspect of my life," he said of the group. "Also I think creatively, my time would be better spent on other stuff that could be NIN or outside NIN."

This new album, which doesn't have a title or a release date, will be going out through Columbia, which also put out How to Destroy Angels' Welcome Oblivion. Columbia said in a press release that the NIN disc will come out "later this year."

It's been five years since the last Nine Inch Nails record, The Slip. Since then, Reznor has gotten married (to HTDA singer Mariqueen Maandig), won an Oscar (for his score to The Social Network) and started a new band. The decision to reboot Nine Inch Nails certainly can't be looked at as a tactical retreat considering what a good run he's been on lately. And now you have to wonder if he'll debut some of this new material when NIN hit the road this year.

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Photo courtesy the Fun Star.

Stone Temple Pilots Are Taking Scott Weiland to Court

Saturday May 25, 2013
Ever since Stone Temple Pilots decided to mend fences and get back together in 2008, one had to wonder how long it could last, with reports circulating almost immediately that there was still tension between the members. That tension came to a head in February when the group kicked Scott Weiland out of the band. On Friday, the fight between the band and its former frontman spilled over into the courts.

The remaining band members -- Dean DeLeo, Robert DeLeo, Eric Kretz -- filed a lawsuit that wants the courts to bar Weiland from using the Stone Temple Pilots name on his own. According to Associated Press reporter Anthony McCartney, "The suit sheds light on the band's breakup, accusing Weiland of interacting with bandmates only through lawyers or managers and showing up late to the group's 2012 shows. It cites Weiland's addiction struggles and poor performances as detriments to the band's earning potential." That last sentence is especially striking considering that Weiland definitely seemed to have quite noticeable problems during different recent STP tours.

"Without relief from the court," the lawsuit states, "Weiland will continue violating STP's rights, misappropriating STP assets and interfering with the band's livelihood."

This lawsuit comes less than a week after STP announced that Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington was now going to be their vocalist. Apparently, the suit also alleges that Weiland's lawyer tried to keep KROQ, an influential modern rock station, from playing STP's new song with Bennington, "Out of Time," on the grounds that it violated Weiland's contract with the band.

Weiland hasn't yet responded to the lawsuit, but earlier this month he made it sound like the rest of his former bandmates couldn't carry on as Stone Temple Pilots without him. "I started the band," he said in an interview in early May. "I'm not gonna go into, legally, but there's things in place, like certain clauses that are in place that keep that from happening."

It seemed pretty obvious from the moment Weiland got fired that lawsuits would start flying soon after. That's where we are now. If you're a fan of legal sniping and bad blood between former bandmates, this will probably be the one rock story you'll be most interested in following over the next several weeks and months.

Update: Scott Weiland responded on his website. "Like any band that's stood the test of time and made music for more than two decades," he wrote, "STP had a special alchemy -- the four of us together were greater than any one of us apart. So if my former bandmates want to tour with a new singer, that's their prerogative. I don't give a [expletive] what they call themselves, but it's not Stone Temple Pilots." And he makes it clear that, to his mind, "they don't have the legal right to call themselves STP because I'm still a member of the band." To be continued.

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Photo: Chapman Baehler.

'Modern Vampires of the City' Toast of Rock Charts

Friday May 24, 2013
Riding much hype and stellar reviews, Modern Vampires of the City is one of the year's most anticipated albums in alternative rock. Vampire Weekend were able to parlay that into strong sales in their debut week. Not surprisingly, then, the East Coast quartet are the big story on the Billboard Rock Charts, but it's also worth pointing out that Imagine Dragons finally lost their stranglehold on all of our singles charts. Check out my rundown of this week's Rock Charts to see where your favorite tunes and albums ranked.

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Photo courtesy Nasty Little Man.

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