When we last caught up with Zach Pietrini, the Milwaukee singer-songwriter was following his Denver Sessions collection of B-sides up with a potent pair of tracks in the form of The Nashville EP. Since that latest out-of-town effort, Pietrini has been hard at work writing, recording, and writing some more. Some of those songs wound up on his collaborative Modern Love EP with McKenna Bray. Much of that material can soon be heard on Rock & Roll Is Dead, Pietrini’s long-awaited LP follow-up to 2017’s excellent Holding Onto Ghosts.

“This record was a long labor,” Pietrini tells Milwaukee Record. “I spent two years—thanks, COVID—on and off finishing it.”

While taking his time on the album, Pietrini (and co-producer/engineer/accompanying musician Kyle White) sought out to make a decidedly different record than his previous releases. This time around, Pietrini did away with his minimalist and straightforward sound that’s largely representative of his live performances in favor of what the songwriter calls a layered “wall of sound.” That big, bold, and instrument-laden pivot can be heard on “What Are We Now,” the lead Rock & Roll Is Dead single Pietrini just put out in advance of the album’s September 23 release.

Today, Pietrini released an accompanying music video for the song, which gives the big and bold rock-tinged Americana earworm the visual pairing it so deserves. He enlisted Brian Klewin for the “What Are We Now” music video, which capably combines scenes from the award-winning Milwaukee director’s debut feature film, Undead And The Grimoire, with cinematographer Timothy Moder‘s footage of Pietrini playing guitar and dancing on a Fox Point property. Between the outdoor imagery and Pietrini’s boisterous, modernized nod to Petty and Springsteen, the “What Are We Now” music video is well worth a watch.

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Co-Founder and Editor

Before co-founding Milwaukee Record, Tyler Maas wrote for virtually every Milwaukee publication (except Wassup! Magazine). He lives in Bay View and enjoys both stuff and things.