Sunday Morning Radio: 1.FM Alternative Rock X Hits
Visiting Modern Alternative Rock stations has become an odd experience in the past few years. It’s like returning to a club you used to frequent, after the place has changed ownership a couple of times. There’s enough of the place you recognize to make you sure you know where you are, but maybe the food menu has changed a lot and a few old employees are still there, but there are more people there that you don’t know than you do. The bottom line is that enough has changed that you don’t feel uncomfortable, just maybe a little out of place.
1.FM’s Alternative Rock X Hits is a prime example. There are enough artists I recognize to make it familiar, with enough ‘new’ artists in the mix to make me wonder just exactly what the hell I’m listening to. Older bands like Slipknot share their spot in the playlist with newer bands like Trapt and Linkin Park, who try to balance their ‘heaviness’ with lead vocals and melodies that wouldn’t be out of place in a One Direction single. Alternative Rock has arrived at a weird place here on the verge of 2015, and 1.FM presents it to you in real time. It’s like watching a slap fight between someone you kinda like and someone you don’t really like that much at all – and hoping they both lose.
And I say this as a guy who is a huge fan of heavy, melodic music. A heavy song with a strong melody, when done right, is a joy to hear. The problem with 1FM’s playlist is that much of the attempts at heavy yet melodic stuff they played just wasn’t done right. There were a couple of exceptions in the hour I listened to – Deftones’ ‘Romantic Dream’ and Big Wreck’s ‘Come What May’ were different enough to stand out from the rest of the sample – but the problem there is that these are two acts who have been around for quite a while. The younger bands (You Me At Six, Dirty Heads, Trapt) don’t seem to have a handle on the seamless application of melody over a thrashing track. Their stuff seems clumsy and definitely not as well-executed as their producers hoped they would be.
And what sample hour of Modern Alternative would possibly be complete without the new Foo Fighters single? (for the record – still not feelin’ it).
One of the great things about older Alternative Rock was the assurance it was delivered with. Even if you were listening to a middle-of-the-pack band like Limp Bizkit, the song might not be great but you could never doubt the band’s conviction in performing it. That seems to be gone now, with the younger bands employing heavy tracks and melody, but you never get the feeling that these bands actually believe in what they’re doing. It seems more like a series of exercises in trying to cover as many stylistic markets at once as possible, yet not coming off like an organic part of any style.
1.FM’s presentation is about as straightforward as you can get – no DJ, no commercials, not even a lonely station ID. If this station were playing when you entered a room and stayed there for an hour, you’d leave no even knowing what station you’d been listening to. But if you just want a source of music with no interruptions and pretty much no personality, I guess you could do worse.
Sample hour of music:
Default – Deny
Jet – Rollover DJ
Slipknot – The Devil In I
You Me At Six – Room To Breathe
Linkin Park/Steve Aoki – A Light That Never Comes
Three Days Grace – Animal I Have Become
Trapt – Echo
Dirty Heads – Sound of Change
Deftones – Romantic Dream
Big Wreck – Come What May
Spacehog – In The Mean Time
Foo Fighters – Something From Nothing
Verdict: Not a great station, but the format itself may be the problem in that regard.