While cosmetically not much different from most of the hard rock songs you’d hear in a post-‘90s world, there’s a level of passion afforded to the verses of Bob Dee with Petro’s new single “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” that alone makes the song quite the interesting and unique listen this season. Where a lot of other rockers have been content to recycle the past or, worse yet, try to take things in some sort of strange, postmodern direction, Dee and his band want to find a comfortable middle between the classic rock of Cheap Trick and the clandestine pop songcraft of, say, Jet in this track, and their commitment to staying away from indulgence is clear from the onset.
This isn’t a group of musicians vulnerable to falling into fleeting trends that are here today and gone tomorrow, and I also get the feeling that when they get together to jam, they do so with the intention of letting the music take them in different directions as opposed to something more laid out and predictable. Their chemistry is on fire, and in this release, makes for quite an exciting listen if you’re hungry for fresh rock in the new year.
This is absolutely a stylistic crossover with a lot of post-punk in its bones, and I’m not talking about the synth-heavy content that a lot of post-punk revivalists have taken something from in the past two years. Dee has every opportunity and reason to dominate over this arrangement with his voice, but he rejects the very notion out of the gate – probably the make it clear to us that he wants to highlight instrumental might as much as he does the verses he’s constructing out of broad poeticisms behind the microphone.
He does a good job of pushing the percussion back with his voice more than he does his presence, and although the groove is one that I’d qualify as immersive and challenging of his talents, he doesn’t buckle under the pressure here at all (the opposite, truth be told). I think he prefers song structures like this one, especially when going back and looking at some of the most successful content in his discography.
The American underground is an ever-changing space, but among the players that I can rely on raising the bar every time they get into the studio, Bob Dee with Petro are about as good as it gets. There aren’t nearly enough musicians in his scene that share his details-first attitude, and if there were, a song like “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” might not sound like as much of a revelation as it does this February.
That said, there just isn’t the kind of competition on this side of the border that there is in the Canadian underground, and to me, Bob Dee and his band stand on their own just fine in this single and everything else they’ve been working on over the years. I’m eager to hear the Idolmaker EP, and I think others who check out this track will feel the same.
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