JAM THE TRACKS WHILE YOU READ
"GREAT ADD YOU SAUCY MINX" - BEN
ROCK & ROLL IS DEAD
JUNE 20TH, 2023
The touchstones are prominent. Springsteen. Petty. Right there on the sleeve of Zach’s denim jacket. And “Dead End Town”, album opener, is an anthem as good as either of those icons ever penned. Youth, dreams, desire; the need to leave your small burgh and make a stake in the wider world, to break away from blue collar chains. The earworm melody gets the head nodding and the foot tapping. But it’s the guitars and keys that swells the heart with hope and possibility, with “lightning and thunder.”
In 2021 Zach released The Modern Love EP with Memphis based singer-songwriter McKenna Bray. Those five songs of soul searching are beyond good. And the new album continues this emotional trend. Pietrini is best when looking inward. He elicits lyrical introspection with a common scalpel, not afraid to peel back the skin to see what lies beneath. Life is going to kick dirt on you; it “will get hard before it gets easy.” Relationships will crack. Wrecking balls will come swinging, sometimes controlled by our own hands. At seventeen “you’re going to wreck that car / you’re going to break some hearts / slowly learn to fall apart.” And it’s this Humpty Dumpty kind of life, this falling and cracking and piecing one’s self back together again that fuels this excellent album.
Rock & Roll Is Dead is a title of irony and jaded reality. Where the blue sky dreams of youth have bashed against the machine of the music industry, magicking up unhappy clouds instead of blissful chords. “Is it so wrong to think that these songs could save our souls / Let’s pour one out tonight and say a prayer for rock & roll.” Whether or not prayers work is a debate for another day. What isn’t up for debate? That Zach Pietrini of Milwaukee, WI proves rock & roll still has a pulse.
- TRENT RYAN SMITH