Days of the New S/T (Yellow)


(3 June 1997, Outpost/Geffen)

I started getting into music at a really inopportune time.

The genre of rock that first appealed to me was grunge. I’ve written about the profound effect Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” had on me and it was truly life changing. Before that, I listened to whatever my parents handed down to me. After that, I was eager to set out on my own.

So why was it a horrible time? By the time I heard that song, Kurt Cobain was already gone. Soundgarden broke up just a few years later. Alice in Chains never officially broke up, but they went into hibernation shortly after my conversion. Pearl Jam is the only grunge band who continually released new music, but they put a lot of effort into remaining obscure.

It was almost like I discovered something I really loved and as soon as I did it was stolen from me by the Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls.

When I first heard Days of the New it was a breath of fresh air. There was finally something for me to get excited about. An unwashed, detuned, yarling ray of sunshine.

They never really dominated the airwaves, but “Touch, Peel and Stand” has become a rock radio staple. I’m even hearing that track on the local non-profit station. “Shelf in the Room” still pops up occasionally, but “The Down Town” seems to have faded into the ether.

I always loved how hard this album rocked. You wouldn’t expect a tune like “Freak” from a band with acoustic guitars. It’s a dumb gimmick, but it really helped to create a unique sound and establish a place on the map.

A lot of the other stuff is more experimental. “Face of the Earth” and “Solitude” are a bit too droning for me to get it down off the shelf very often. A few are good, but not really groundbreaking. The highlight for many tracks is the lead guitar work of Todd Whitener.

I was always a much bigger fan of their second album, which I found much more interesting.

Unfortunately, by the third album they were all out of tricks and produced a lackluster effort I didn’t buy. I think this will conclude my Days of the New series, but it won’t be the last time I load these albums on my MP3 player.

 

 

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A Good Haul


I had to take the girlfriend to a doctor appointment in the big city on Friday. You’d think this would be a pain in the ass, but I love having an excuse to stretch my legs and see something new. Aside from the appointment only taking 10 minutes it was also nice to check out a different Mexican restaurant and get caught up on my comic books.

I’m not sure if the last minute decision to stop by the music shop was good or bad. I spent way more than I intended to, but I made out really, really well.

I ended up buying four CDs. Three were only $1, so it’s hard to complain. I have come across a few discs that were a ripoff at that price, but I don’t think that’s the case.

I bought a School House Rock! album with a bunch of nineties artists playing “Conjunction Junction” and “I’m Just a Bill” for my girlfriend. We listened to it on the way home and it’s pretty cool. I’ve never been a big fan of Better Than Ezra or Biz Markie, but this is good stuff.

I also bought Slick Idiot’s DickNity. This is the band singer En Esch and guitarist Günter Shulz formed after KMFDM disbanded. I’m not as big on the industrial/electronic music as I was in high school, but this has more than enough guitar on it to keep me happy. It sounds like KMFDM but without a lot of the snobby industrial attitude and a lot more riffage. 

Plus, how could I pass up an album called DickNity? Not only am I a fan of horrible puns but I also possess the sense of humor of a 13-year-old boy.

I bought Spin Doctor’s Pocket Full of Kryptonite mainly for the song “Two Princes.” I’ve been sharing romantic songs on my girlfriend’s Facebook page for a while and that was the most recent one. Plus, it always makes me think of the scene from the Sarah Silverman program with Brian Posehn frolicking through the playground and how can anyone not love that?

 

The best CD has to be Nine Inch Nails featuring David Bowie Look Back in Anger. This is taken from a live 1995 performance when NIN were opening for Bowie. There are a few Nails songs I’ve never heard live and a lot of Bowie that I’ve never heard, but the best part is when the two collaborate for “Reptile,” “Scary Monsters” and “Hurt.” I have a feeling this will get a lot of play over the next few months.

And that’s one of the reasons I love browsing around in record shops. I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular. I did check to see if they had any cheap Descendents, Dead Kennedys or GWAR, but didn’t see any. Instead I came across a rare bootleg that I didn’t even know existed. That never happens to me on Amazon.

But the biggest purchase was a Crosley Rochester CR66 Audio System. I’ve had my eye on one of these for a while. I wanted something that plays records, but could also play AM/FM radio and CDs and wouldn’t take up a whole lot of space. Every time I saw one the price was a little too high, but this time it was low enough I had to pick it up. I’m sure more than a few of my audiophile friends will turn up their noses at it, but so far I’m happy. I’d say it’s a good beginner record player. The sound is good and I can still enjoy my CDs and radio without excessive clutter.

Now I just need to get more vinyl. All I have at the moment is a NIN single for “The Hand That Feeds” and Richard Pryor’s Bicentennial Nigger.

Thrift stores here I come!

The Wisdom of Rock


I used to really enjoy deep and meaningful lyrics. I’m not sure what changed. Did I mature? It’s more likely that I did the opposite. What do you call that? Immatured? Yeah, I think that’s it.

I’ve immatured to the point where I tend to prefer songs about sniffing glue and smoking banana peels to anything the Eagles have ever done. But every now and again I still come across a lyric, and even in without any marijuana in my system I think to myself, “Wow man, that’s deep.”

So let’s celebrate some of the wisdom that somehow manages to seep through the crack and drip down on us, even though we don’t listen to jazz.

 

“If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice”

Rush “Freewill”

 

“You’ve got to lose to know how to win”

Aerosmith “Dream On”

 

“It’s better to regret something you did than something you didn’t do”

The Butthole Surfers “Sweet Loaf”

The Ultimate Driving Mixtape*


I’m pretty sure there’s something wrong with my mental state. I’m off in the head.

For the past month and a half, my girlfriend has been in the hospital and I’ve managed to visit her three or four times a week. This is a bit of an inconvenience as she’s about an hour drive away**.

So last week I took a vacation day… to drive two hours in the other direction and take an introduction to solar energy systems and design class in the southern part of the state. It wasn’t until I was cruising back on the highway that I realized this isn’t something most people do. In fact, most people would probably say I’m in desperate need of a psychiatrist.

And after I finish installing these solar panels and save on my electric bill I’ll make an appointment.

The insane part is that I actually enjoy the drive. Southern Ohio/Northern West Virginia is filled with beautiful scenery. It was a gorgeous day, and I got to enjoy it in my own way.

The best part is that my new*^ car has one of those newfangled ‘radio’ contraptions so I was able to listen to music the whole way. When I needed a break from the Creedence CD I brought along I was able to scan through the stations and usually land on something descent that made time pass a little quicker.

This got me thinking “what would be on the ultimate driving playlist?” And because one of my hobbies is blogging I had to turn it into something.

Granted, most of this is low hanging fruit, but give me a break; I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately.


Tom Cochran “Life is a Highway”

The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter”

The Carpenters “Superstar”

 

Beastie Boys “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”

AC/DC “Highway to Hell”

Elton John “Tiny Dancer”

 

 

Meat Loaf “Bat Out Of Hell”

Heart “Barracuda”

 

Jimi Hendrix “All Along The Watchtower”

Red Hot Chili Peppers “Soul 2 Squeeze”

Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody”

 

So I know all of your typing fingers are burning up right now to tell me which I missed. And that’s great! I purposely left enough space on this virtual disc for a little feedback. That’s what comments are for.

Have at ‘er!


 

* I’m sure someone has already done this post in a different way, but now it’s my turn!

**But she’s totally worth it.

*^Actually, it’s a year older than my previous vehicle, but the owner took much better care of it so it’s like a new car.

 

Soundgarden “Telephantasm”


(28 Sept 2010, A&M/Interscope)

Somewhere near the top of the list of jobs I’d never want is to be the guy who has to spend the next few weeks combing over Chris Cornell’s body of work to compile a hits album that is set to be released in ten… nine… eight…

I shouldn’t say that. It probably won’t be that bad. I’m sure there’s a team of people crunching numbers, scanning YouTube and Spotify stats and flipping coins deciding what will go on and what will be left on the cutting room floor.

Telephantasm is as close to a perfect Soundgarden retrospective album as you’re going to get for the price and length. 2 CDs/1DVD makes for a great overview of the band’s career and helps point to albums one may wish to explore further. Plus it’s not so long that it’s a chore to listen to and attention starts to wander.

“All Your Lies” does not start things off well. All tracks are in chronological order and this comes from a 1986 compilation featuring other popular bands from Seattle. I’m not sure if it’s poor production that turns me off from this track or a horrible guitar effect. Either way, I’d much rather skip to…

“Hunted Down” which is the first track featuring the Soundgarden we all know and love. Those screeching vocals and crazy guitar lines are all there. But before we can build momentum and get on a roll we have…

“Fopp” is a cover of an Ohio Players song. I’m not a fan. Funk is not something I find myself getting very heavily into and Soundgarden do not do it well.

“Beyond the Wheel” is just so-so. I can’t really feel strongly about it one way or the other. It’s definitely heavy and unique but has too slow a pace to really rock too hard.

“Flower” is the first song on this compilation I love. It has an odd main riff that worms it’s way into my head and is unique enough that I still haven’t gotten sick of it. This is the beginning of Soundgarden becoming a powerhouse.

“Hands All Over” picks up where “Flower” stops. It’s similar, but this is more of a good-time party rocker.

“Big Dumb Sex” has a title that fully explains itself. It’s big. It’s dumb. And the word fuck is used many, many times.

“Get on the Snake” is a good, groovy rocker, but it’s not quite great.

“Room a Thousand Years Wide” is the beginning of mega-stardom Soundgarden. This is one of the lesser known tracks from Badmotorfinger, but I’m not sure why. I enjoy this track a lot better than…

“Rusty Cage” isn’t a bad song. I always think of a motorcycle racing game for Sega that it was used in. Did any of you ever play Road Rash? It was pretty fun.

“Outshined” is the perhaps the biggest track from Badmotorfinger. The strange thing about it is how much it’s just a grunge version of the hair metal Soundgarden replaced. It’s just much sludgier.

“Slaves and Bulldozers” is another great deep cut. Why a track like this isn’t heard on the radio every hour is beyond me, but that’s probably why I can’t find a job as a station manager.

Disc Two starts off with a stellar live version of “Jesus Christ Pose.” This song has a ton of urgency, power, and speed on its album version, but the live version kicks all those elements into high gear. If you never hear another Soundgarden track, this is the one to hear.

“Birth Ritual” comes from the Singles Motion Picture Soundtrack. It’s another so-so song. It sounds like a stock track that they had lying around so they threw it on there.

The next five songs are taken right from Superunknown and are mostly the same tracks that appear on the album. The only alternate take is “Fell On Black Days” which is the video version. I think I enjoy this version better than the album version, but it isn’t extremely different. The only difference comes from Kim Thayil’s guitar lines. The rest has a nice laid-back, live-in-the-studio vibe.

Then there are four tracks from Down on the Upside. This time there are two alternate tracks. I remember when they performed “Pretty Noose” on Saturday Night Live. It’s a good version, but not stellar. “Blow Up The Outside World” is taken from an MTV Live ‘N’ Loud performance. It’s nice to have different versions instead of the same thing I can get on the other albums in my collection, but these tracks aren’t must hear like “Jesus Christ Pose.”

The album ends with “Black Rain,” an outtake from the Badmotorfinger sessions. Not a bad track, but I can see why it was left out.

 

All that’s missing from this collection is “Loud Love” and “The Day I Tried To Live.” The latter makes an appearance on the DVD, but it would be nice to hear while I’m listening to this cruising down the highway. If they were to add those tunes and a few more alternate/live takes I would call this collection perfect. As it is, I’ll have to give it 3.5/5 stars.

I just wonder how many discs the Cornell tribute will be. Telephantasm provides a great groundwork for the Soundgarden stuff, but there’s nothing from Temple of the Dog, Audioslave or any of his solo work. It’s going to have to be a box set, with (hopefully) a truncated version for us cheapos.

I just hope it does justice to a stellar career.

Foo Fighters “The Colour and the Shape”


(20 May 1997, Capitol)

I’m not a baseball fan, so pardon me if I screw up this analogy.

Foo Fighters’ debut was at least a triple play. It could be almost be said it was a home run, but I don’t think it quite made it over the fence. It was good. Hell, it was great. But there was something missing. It wasn’t quite a perfect album.

But as the old saying goes, you have as long as you need to write your first album. Dave Grohl had years to compile the songs on that album. The band had a considerably shorter time period to write the follow-up. Could they deliver? What were they going to do in their next at bat?

I’d have to say The Colour and the Shape is a grand slam. This was the album that catapulted Foo Fighters into the stratosphere. Before this album, you could expect to hear one Foos song on the radio for every ten Nirvana plays. Now you’re lucky to hear one Nirvana track for every twenty from the Foo Fighters.

They’re no longer “that band with the drummer from Nirvana.” Foo Fighters are now “the biggest fucking rock band in the world.” I’m not saying that every song on The Colour and the Shape is great, but they all flow together so well that even the throwaway tunes work in the context of the album to make it great.

“Monkey Wrench” was the perfect lead single. That hummable, descending guitar line and poppy melodies mix perfectly. It’s just heavy enough to appeal to metalheads, but light enough to bounce around to. “My Hero” is one of those songs where I like the video more than the actual song, but it’s still a great one. Those goofy guitar turnarounds at the end of the chorus make it all worth it for me. How do you listen to it and not play air guitar to those licks?

And how do you follow up something like “Big Me,” which is as close to a perfect love song as I’ve ever heard and puts a smile on my face nearly every time I hear it? With a song that the rest of the human population feels that way about! I can’t help but wonder how many children were born because of the song “Everlong.”

If you take the time to look past the singles there’s still great stuff. I’m not a fan of some of the lighter fare. “Doll” and “Walking After You” are a little too light for me. They remind me of a bag of potato chips – mostly air.  Stuff like “See You” and “New Way Home” are a lot better. Fun, simple rockers that get the feet tapping, but it’s the raunchy rockers that get my blood pumping.

I love “Hey, Johnny Park.” The main riff is just pure brilliance. I’m not sure if I heard this many years ago and it stuck in my head. It sounded familiar when I got my copy recently, but maybe it’s just one of those riffs that is so catchy I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t in my head.

“The Colour and the Shape” might be my favorite Foo Fighters song. When you hear the tunes “Times Like These” and “Best of You” it’s easy to forget that Dave Grohl cut his teeth playing in punk bands. When you hear the screams and noise of the title track it’s front and center.

The best thing about The Colour and the Shape is that it sounds like a group effort. Grohl already proved he could write and record an album on his own with Foo Fighters and the Late! cassette he released while still with Nirvana, but he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who needs absolute control like Trent Reznor or Prince.

Utilizing the whole band turned out to be a good decision. This was the album that led to sold out arenas and a quarter billion dollar net worth. Sometimes all it takes is four guys in a room jamming to come up with a masterpiece.

 

RIP Chris Cornell


Wow. Just… wow.

You know, when I was younger I wanted to grow up and be Chris Cornell. I was extremely disappointed to discover the job had already been taken.

Now that it’s open again I doubt I could fill his shoes.

I’ve gone on record as saying I wasn’t a huge fan of King Animal, but I was looking forward to its followup. I’m disappointed that I’ll probably never hear that now.

Hope you enjoy my hastily thrown together playlist.

 

 

Soundgarden Superunknown

Soundgarden Down on the Upside

The Where’s My Shirt Tour

#Top15onthe15th

Rock on the Range 2013