Milwaukee native Zach Pietrini is no stranger to both the nostalgic and melancholy feeling one might get when listening to their favorite classic rock and roll songs.
In honor of his adoration for the craft, Pietrini looks to bring the spirit of classic contemporary rock and roll back to life in his fifth album, Rock & Roll is Dead. After 15 years of honing his own musical craft coupled with a lifetime of love for artists like Petty and Springsteen, Pietrini has made this project into an elaborate collaboration of his musical expertise and the life lessons he’s learned along the way.
But it’s more than that.
It’s also a demystification of the seemingly magical and mythical world that is music-making. From being a youth becoming entranced with its transcendent qualities, to becoming a songwriter and grinding artist in the industry, Pietrini has seen behind the curtain so to speak, unveiling all the mystique he held dear in his younger years. That alluring shimmer wore off has he got to understand the inner workings, however somewhere inside him, he knows that magic in the music that changed his life is still there somewhere.
Pietrini kickstarts the album in energetic fashion with “Dead End Town,” as he tells the story of a classic one-horse-town that keeps you from truly spreading your wings, and the desire to break free. The song rings of old-fashioned Americana soul with driving classic rock guitar solos and edgy vocals. The tune is a welcome upbeat introduction to the project as it displays Pietrini’s creative touch with the traditional sound of rock and roll.
As the leading single off the album, “What Are We Now,” is a groove-driven catchy track that demonstrates Pietrini’s versatility to genre-bend between indie and classic rock. Showcasing his vocal dynamics, the song is a journey of catchy choruses, emotional melodies, and a captivating underlying bass line that gets your head bobbing. The single is accompanied by an official music video with a spooky side-plot perfect for the ensuing season of campfires and eerie nights.
“Seventeen” was the second single that preceded the album, and presents as an earnest ballad about Pietrini’s younger days. He serenades listeners with stories of the innocent ignorance that comes with youth, and how he allowed himself to make mistakes to be the better man he is today. The tune is emotionally driven with gentle melodies and a nostalgic electric guitar that flows seamlessly throughout the piece. This track also has its own music video.
The seventh track on the album, “Living This Way,” is a catchy yet heated tune about a past relationship where their secrets got between the pair and led to the ultimate demise of the union. The piece is guided by some crafty organ and a compelling union of guitar and percussion. Pietrini alludes to the disappointment of perceived closeness in relationships and the troubles one experiences when honesty and openness don’t take priority in the connection. It’s a definite standout on the album.
The second-to-last song on the album, “I’m Letting Go,” presents as a nod to the more country side of rock and roll with classic lyricism about rolling highways and getting over heartbreak. Pietrini sings about a failed relationship that had been more trouble than it was worth, as he recognizes they weren’t really on the same page. The tune includes an epic guitar breakdown and a good-time feel that could fit perfectly on any windows-down roadtrip playlist.
The title track of the album, “Rock & Roll is Dead,” – which also wraps up the 12-song record – is an ironic conclusion to a rock-filled project with melancholy lyricism about rock n’ roll’s past, coupled with dramatic, anthemic instrumentation.
This is where Pietrini ominously grapples with the music that shaped him, offering something of a eulogy. He reminisces on the good-old-days where traditional rock and roll dominated radio stations, topped charts, and shaped culture, as he pronounces this song a regretful funeral piece for the genre that seems to have less prominence these days.
While Pietrini may sing about the death of rock and roll and the magic it once seemed to hold, this project is the perfect example of artists like him keeping the genre alive and well. Rock & Roll is Dead is a stellar display of musical versatility, seasoned songwriting, and heartfelt introspection. Pietrini crafts a one-of-a-kind ode in a way only he can, and the heart and soul he put into this record doesn’t go unnoticed.
The hard-working heartland rocker will hit the road to tour this album at the end of the month, hitting states all around the country with 20 dates on the docket.
Catch Zach Pietrini On Tour:
September 30th – Milwaukee, WI @ Anodyne
October 5th – Madison, WI @ Bur Oak
October 6th – Milwaukee, WI @ SoFar
October 7th – Kenosha, WI @ 58 Below
October 8th – Rockford, IL @ Mary’s Place
October 13th – Arlington Heights, IL @ Hey Nonny
October 14th – Kokomo, IN @ Coterie
October 15th – Fishers, IN @ House Show
October 20th – Franklin, TN @ Kimbro’s
October 21st – Nashville, TN @ Bowery Vault
October 22nd – Memphis, TN @ Hernandos
November 3rd – Sheboygan, WI @ 3 Sheeps
November 4th – Green Bay, WI @ Coffee Wizards
November 5th – Minneapolis, MN @ Astor Cafe
November 10th – Appleton, WI @ Gibson Music Hall
November 11th – Spring Green, WI @ Slow Poke
November 12th – Clinton, IA @ The V’ue
November 17th – Kansas City, MS @ ULAH
November 18th – LaCross, WI @ Leo & Leona’s
[Note* Paul Howard contributed to this article.]