One Track Mind: Johnny Marr, “Upstarts” from The Messenger (2013)

Credentialed alterno-god Johnny Marr, who was cool when today’s hipsters weren’t even glimmers in their parents’ eyes, returns with a stark, riff-fueled message: “The underground is overground.”

In an age when most of today’s so-called upstarts are nothing more than corporate shills, it’s harder than ever to find real attitude — real rebellion.

Leave it to the old man to show you how it’s done, with a lyric that combines the stutter of new wave with the kind of soaring anthematics that former Smiths bandmate Morrissey was always too damaged to pull off. The solo, meanwhile, is stuttering and then engulfing, vintage Marr.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Johnny Marr’s riff on the Smiths’ “How Soon is Now?” was a generation-defining sound every bit as important as Keef’s in the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction.”]

“Upstarts” is part of the forthcoming solo album The Messenger, due February 26, 2013 from Sire/ADA.

Marr, who has been a member of Electronic and Modest Mouse since the Smiths busted up, is meanwhile preparing to kick off a UK tour in early March — with dates scheduled in Oxford, Norwich, Cambridge, London, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester, among other stops.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso