In just a couple of short years, rising singer and songwriter, Des Rocs, is one of the artists leading the way for an upcoming rock revival. As a fourth generation New Yorker, he has been bending the boundaries of what we know about rock; emphasizing and resurrecting the “roll” in rock and roll.
Hugely inspired by Elvis, Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen, Queen, and Jimi Hendrix, it’s no wonder Danny’s life embodies that of a true up and coming rockstar; when he writes his music, he never forces it into creation and just lets it form seemingly on its own.
In Des Rocs’s first couple of years, they’ve opened for The Struts, Muse, and The Rolling Stones. It will only be a matter of time before the band headlines in their own arenas.
Starting the project in 2018, Des Rocs embraces the ambiguity in music all while striving for a message that can inspire any audience. His ear for blending gritty old fashioned rock, old soul, and R&B can be heard in his works. It is when we come to his latest EP, This is our Life, that we see even more variety in his rendition of rock and roll.
With Des Rocs’s new vision of rock and roll, his work is energetic, gritty, and reminds us that the genre is very much alive and well. Just as it rocks heavy, it blends easily into multiple genres, all while chronicling struggles that are both personal to Des and likely shared by many others.
I cannot fail to mention his acoustic live performance of “Used To The Darkness” in an empty Times Square this past April, just before COVID shut the city down. It captures much of what we are feeling in such a chaotic period of history in our lives, and in a sense, introduces us to his brand new EP.
“In high school,” he says on his YouTube, “I journeyed to Times Square to get a fake ID. I handed over 30 bucks to a guy who could smell I was on the prowl. He paused a moment, looked at me blankly, and sprinted off a thousand miles an hour into an unimaginable sea of endless faces. Times Square is a nuts place that most New Yorkers avoid, but god d**n, it’ll always be that whacko center-of-the-universe heartbeat. As NYC prepared to issue a shut down of non-essential businesses, I went to Times Square to say goodbye to the city I love. For the first time, it was empty…”
Des Rocs has been working on his upcoming EP, This is Our Life, over the course of 2020, and it embodies all our feelings wrapped around the year while embracing the unknown and the ambiguity that keeps us awake at night; and in doing that, he pushes the message forward that it’s okay to not be okay; to not know what you’re feeling. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to express what you are feeling and use it to keep you pressing on.
Starting us off, “POS” is shredding old school rock and roll guitar meshed with an otherworldly showcase of vocals. The first track is short and sweet all while introducing us to the world of this album. The track is ridden with a cool anger and gritty soul. Its fast tempo sends the heart racing and releases a cathartic energy against the tension and anger. Des Rocs’s vocals take a unique spin with cool, echoing vocals while making us feel like we’re in the middle of a chase scene in an action movie. After the second chorus, the song concludes; and though it’s only a short two minutes in length, wrapped in it is the heaviness and anger charged within.
Up next, “This is Our Life” blends in the guitar from the previous track, then changes pace with its slower paced, soulful vocals in each verse. The chorus puts Des’s vocals on display with his incredible soulful falsetto. Expressing as the voice of those who are left feeling unheard, the message rings in the ears and resonates just as his unique vocals do.
There is a tangible pain in his tone; as the time slips away from us; “hours turn to days,” Danny sings in the intro. The words especially hit home for many. And in this track, he manages to wrap an entire year, if not even a lifetime, of turmoil; the feeling that even though the chaos exists in the world, it’s the way life is, and there’s a helplessness in it that transforms into energy charged with pressing on no matter what the circumstances.
Up next, “Nothing Personal” is permeated with crisp visuals in the lyrics; about spending a night out hoping for no consequences to forget the world outside. Instead, the subject is met with consequences they did not anticipate. They find a stranger in their bed, “pale white and in your favorite party dress,” Danny sings.
And from there, the lyrics are an inner monologue, voices battling with one another in the pre-chorus and chorus. The song then varies in pace as the vocals ring in your ears with a beautifully showcased falsetto. Throughout the track, you can feel a pang of guilt building until the guitar solo in the bridge. After this climax, the song then concludes with the lyrics, “I swear that it’s nothing personal,” as if there is a sudden resolution to the inner battling dialogue, but the lyrics suggest otherwise. They point out that there is no resolution and that the subject has decided to ignore the consequences of their actions.
The next track, “Pieces,” seems to change the tone with a slow intro. Harmonizing vocals blend in with a cool electric guitar. Then as a drum beat patters in the track, the song transforms into a soulful, sad beat.
This track’s lyrics are incredibly powerful; as it discusses the sorry state of a person who’s trying to gather the pieces of themselves back together, they are trying to put on a face that they’re okay, and the song discusses how even then their composure is slowly slipping away. “Careful your wasting away, and now everyone’s suspicious\Paying the price of the pain, now there’s nothing left but pieces,” Danny sings.
“Suicide Romantics,” is the track with the oldest soul. Keeping things fairly simple instrumentally, Danny’s vocals are put on display all while not showing off too much, which adds to the pure charm of this song. With its elements blending together like an old rock ballad, he adds a modern twist by purely bringing this kind of track back into existence. Modern music is missing this kind of soul in a love song; for in “Suicide Romantics,” Des Rocs shows that experiencing love fully can be truly deep and wide as it is painful and dramatic to have to let go.
A physical copy exclusive, “Love and a Smoking Gun” is worthy of being the true conclusion to the EP. While inspiring the audience to keep pressing on no matter what heartbreaks we face, Des Rocs introduces us to many new elements in the track that have never been heard throughout the album; a quick marching drum beat; orchestral elements, a harmonizing choir of voices in the background, and bells chiming throughout the track.
Des Rocs’s This Is Our Life EP is filled to the brim with brilliance, old soul, and heavy rock and roll. While ultimately showing the audience that the genre is still alive and well, its relevance is all the more important in capturing our chaotic time in history, facing isolation, violence, and turmoil all while in the middle of a pandemic. In history past, it was music such as this that kept us pressing on; and it is music such as This Is Our Life, that will remain relevant throughout history.
Next October, Des Rocs will be appearing at the Aftershock Festival. I look forward to capturing the event and witnessing his unique energy much raved about when he performs live.
We met up with Des Rocs to chat about the album. Watch it now HERE:
This is Our Life will be available on all streaming platforms Friday, December 11th. Stay tuned!