Major record labels are all but a thing of the past. The album format is a lost art. The last new American rock band worth listening to was The Strokes…in 2001. The most popular singer of the last decade is named Auto-tune. America’s biggest A&R reps are Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, and Steven Tyler, and the Red States. Everyone’s gaga for Gaga because she’s the lone point of interest on the Billboard charts. In this increasingly sad musical landscape, if you want to hear new music by curiosities known as “rock bands,” you either have to go on a quest for it…or wait every few years for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They may not be the sock-wearing, slightly off-key singing, proto-rap/rock band you remember from 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik, but they are one of the few aspects of mainstream American music that has gotten better over time. If Californication, By The Way, and Stadium Arcadium are any indication of the trajectory this band is on, then I’m With You (release date: August 30) should be the most anticipated album of 2011. Read David Fricke’s latest Alternate Take column in Rolling Stone.