Modern rock music can be hit or miss these days, with a majority of rock artists phoning in their performances and songwriting skills for a quick buck and a quicker shot at riding the “viral” wave, what with social media being the way it is these days.


There’s no easy way to condense a truly good rock ’n’ roll track into thirty seconds to sell it, and that seems to be the way most marketing execs want to push their material these days, so rock music has nearly gone the way of disco and dinosaurs — if it’s not twee indie fare like Mumford & Sons or manufactured fake-punk like Machine Gun Kelly, there’s hardly any room for it. For some, that might be enough to dissuade them from ever trying but that’s not the sign of a true artist. Real rock musicians create not for fame but for the sake of the music, and for Pete Price and his several decades in music, he’s been chipping away at building his own legacy for quite some time. With his debut album The Department of the Interior finally here, it’s a fantastic reminder of what real music can sound like, something people seem to forget far too often.

The Department of the Interior is stuffed full of perfect examples of modern rock tracks that feel like homages to the rock music a lot of folks in the audience undoubtedly grew up on. There’s the opener, “Diamonds in the Sky,” which serves as a great way for listeners to dip a toe into Price’s world, and the send-up to ‘70s rock starts off immediately. “The Crossing” has a lighter feel to it, and it’s interwoven with somber lyrics and an emphasis on minor key production as a beautiful fiddle solo opens the song up. The production on the track is definitely a highlight, and the positives for the record start popping up right away. It’s rare for a debut to be so dense with nothing but positives, but Pete Price is no novice — he’s been in the industry and in a variety of bands across the last thirty years, so there’s nothing but musical prowess to be flexed here.

Other album standouts include “Old Movies and You,” which tackles the serious subject of loss and moving on after tragedy; there’s a morose ambiance to the track but the overall idea of the song is an incredibly moving one. “Green Flash” sees Price pivot into duet mode as he’s joined by a female vocalist, and the dual-vocal nature of the song is a welcome surprise to be had on the record. “Taste of Freedom” digs deep into the blues, offering up some phenomenal work on the sax across the song’s runtime — each track feels like a completely new take on one of Pete Price’s musical strengths, and there’s not one letdown.

The Department of the Interior is a fascinating breakout album, showcasing Pete Price’s varied styles and skills without ever going too far into left field. There’s a case to be made for the state of modern rock, but it’s clear that Price and company aren’t just laying down; he’s already gone on the record about his next album, so it won’t be long before more Pete Price is on the menu. Until then, The Department of the Interior gives listeners more than enough to chew on and ruminate over; it’s a stupendous debut record from an incredible musician.

Garth Thomas