All posts tagged: Nirvana

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Review: Melvins – “The Bulls & The Bees”/”Electroretard” (Re-issue)

So, here it is: the new Melvins record is actually a duo of Melvins records that already was. It’s interesting to see what the juxtaposition of the two documents, released herein by Ipecac, tells us about the group’s trajectory and “career” pangs. And, oh yeah, of course, full disclosure: it’s worth hearing it if you haven’t, like you needed that to be said. The Bulls & The Bees, released first about three years ago as a Scion giveaway download of all things, is a fine slice of A Senile Animal-era quartet fun. (I’ll leave it to you to debate whether you want to call these B-sides. I’m 50/50 most the time.) There’s well-timed Codey/Crover percussive thrust, fuzzy bass plumbage, and more than enough front-man fanaticism from Buzzo. Plain as day: songs like “War on Wisdom” rock, “National Hamster” grooves, and “A Really Long Wait,” though maybe intended as a semi-goof, is as somber, operatic and downright tragic as the group has ever sounded. (Is that goddamn cello? Downright effective stuff.) Verdict: for the most part, it will kick you in …

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BOOK REVIEW: Jesse Frohman – “Kurt Cobain: The Last Session”

Twenty years after Kurt Cobain’s tragic suicide, he’s still, it seems, as popular as ever. Sure, Cobain and company have sold some 25 million records in the U.S. since 1991 alone, if Bloomberg Businessweek is to be believed. But, since Cobain’s death, Nirvana has released two LPs that rocketed right to the top of the charts: 1994’s MTV Unplugged In New York and 1996’s From The Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, two #1s. The odds-and-ends collection With The Lights Out, a worthwhile endeavor if anyone’s taking notes, went platinum, setting a record for single week sales of any box set. The “best of” black album, Nirvana, was a smash. And Cobain still regularly shows up in those Forbes lists of top-earning dead celebrities. In 2011, his daughter, Frances Bean, had an estimated worth of near $200 million. Enter Kurt Cobain: The Last Session. The first thing wrong with the tome, out via Thames & Hudson this month, is the title. Photographer Jesse Frohman provides about 100 shots of Cobain and, I suppose, incidentally, his band, …

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ALBUM REVIEW: Nirvana, “In Utero: 20th Anniversary Edition”

Nirvana’s In Utero always has been ripe with context. Upon release in 1993, it wasn’t just the group’s third full-length record proper; it was arguably a middle-finger to the industry that fanned the flames of Kurt Cobain’s celebrity while positing itself about as accessible a “rock” record as the group was willing to make. Above all, especially as time would have it, it has become a kind of reinforcement of the group’s legacy as one of the finer bands of the era, a way of gesturing to the nonbelievers that Cobain was about more than “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” To recreate the buzz for the record is to trace the trajectory of the massively successful – and massively imitated – Nevermind. In some ways, all these years later, 1991 sounds like the surface of the moon. And, yes, yes, even in 1993, by the time In Utero hit stores, the whole “kick Michael Jackson out of the top Billboard spot” thing was old hat, as Cobain might have known too well — especially if In …

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Punk: A Braindump

You know the rest of the Twenty-Teens will be a hard slog when even the quality of our rebellion is mediocre. Look at the so-called “rebels” in today’s pop culture and what you really see are an endless stream of media frenemies, declaring their disdain for any number of departments while alternately being the exemplars of the same. In every sense, they ridicule the “cool kids” while concurrently emulating them…all “beef” and no balls, some might say. Not that this is such a new occurrence — human beings in general have gotten their “hate on” mostly out of envy, acted out as a duplication of the subject of note, not a departure from it. In terms of being content providers, previous generations at least tried to do it with some style. Their raised middle fingers weren’t crossed. Their anger wasn’t supposed to be empowerment, it was supposed to be anger. In the 1970s, in both the U.S. and the U.K. there was plenty to be angry about. Over there, the very real sense of class …

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SXSW Keynote Speech: Dave Grohl

It all started with a riff: the monster jam that gives life to a great rock song. Dave Grohl, the Nirvana basher and Foo Fighters front man, traced his development as a rock and roller Thursday as he delivered the keynote address to a huge crowd at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music conference. In Grohl’s case, it was “Frankenstein,” the thunderous 1973 instrumental hit. “I have to thank Edgar Winter for allowing that song to be on the 1975 compilation Blockbuster, by Ktel,” Grohl said. “My sister and I took that album home and we played it over and over … (the song) was an instrumental, no singing, but what I heard were the voices of each musician through their instruments, the sound of people playing music with other people.” “Frankenstein” gave life to something dormant in Grohl, which was central to his theme on Thursday. “The musician comes first,” he said up front. “Nothing is as important as the musician.” Bashing on a cheap Sears guitar in his bedroom, Grohl wrote songs about …

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Fight Courtney, F*** Winona, Be the Biggest Rock Star of All Time: A Scientific Analysis

Hole founder, rumored songwriter behind Live Through This, and all around difficult human being Courtney Love once remarked that, “you’re nobody in rock unless you’ve fought me and fucked Winona Ryder.” Love has always been funny and pretty on-point with a lot of her musings; that one is the most coherent thing to come out of her if you don’t count Frances Bean. Love indeed always seems to always be fighting with some celebrity or another, more often than not an emerging alt-rock icon; Ryder, meanwhile is less famous for Heathers and shoplifting than she is for dating cute, dirty-haired indie rocker boys. But what if she’s right? I mean, you look at the lists of the recipients of Love’s vitriol, and Winona Ryder’s What’s Your Number list-meets-the Wikipedia entry for Sassy’s “Cute Band Alert,” and you’ve got some real contenders for Biggest Rock Star in the World (or at least you would circa 1996). So then if you compare the lists, and use math – the associative property, the transitive property, looking at things …

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The Popdose Interview: Debbie Gibson

If you want to feel inspired, spend a few minutes talking with Debbie Gibson. Certainly, you’re probably aware of the chart success that Gibson enjoyed in the ‘80s, beginning with her first single “Only in My Dreams” in 1987, the first of five Top 40 singles that she would notch from her debut album Out Of The Blue. The first three singles from Out Of The Blue charted Top 5 and with her fourth single “Foolish Beat,” Gibson would become the youngest artist (at age 17) to ever write, produce and perform a Billboard #1 single, an accomplishment that remains unbeaten more than two decades later. Gibson faced challenges while working for the chance to record and release that first album and single, but she fought hard and the story of how Gibson stuck with the songs that she believed in — those very same songs that would be massive chart hits only a few years later, is a good one.

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Greatest Un-Hits: Porcelain Black’s “This Is What Rock n’ Roll Looks Like” (2011)

Being influenced by and being extremely similar to are two different things, separated by a thin line. The biggest musical success of the last few years has been Lady Gaga. While her music is mostly well-made albeit familiar dance pop, what made her enormously successful was her persona and look. She made being really stagey and fabulous and over the top not only okay for modern female pop singers, but required. Katy Perry didn’t have blue hair and sundae boobs before Lady Gaga. Rihanna was a pop diva before her gagafication into a Mardis Gras dominatrix. Britney Spears successfully sold a circus-themed act for a while. Nicki Minaj has pink hair, which is totally crazy, you guys. And then there’s the fine pop tradition of ripoffery. Some acts are blatant ripoffs of other, more successful acts, while others got a chance to rise to prominence doing something they’ve been doing for years because somebody who did something similar to their thing got big doing it, and then everybody just thinks the former is a ripoffer. …

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Greatest Un-Hits: Peter Bjorn and John’s “Second Chance” (2011)

Peter Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks” is the most indie rock indie rock song of all time. They’ve got all the checklist items covered: odd band name, maudlin lyrics about youth, catchy hook, sleepy melody, whistling,  and twee lady guest vocalist. When advertisers try to market to “hipsters,” they are thinking of this song and the people who like this song. This song smells like Williamsburg. Which is precisely why it became such a big hit, hitting in 2006 at a time when Brooklyn-flavored indie rock was starting to get a lot of mainstream attention as the Next Big Thing or The Music Of Our TImes. In the way that “Anarchy in the UK” was a representative of all punk, or “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was all of grunge, “Young Folks” is the larger world’s introduction to hipsters and their native song. The band is so associated with hipsters that the big network media machine knew enough to use one of Peter Bjorn and John’s songs as the theme song/incidental music for a show about …

Greatest Un-Hits: MC 900 Ft. Jesus’ “If I Only Had a Brain” (1994)

Certain musical acts come along that are so original, so different, so forward leaning that their arrival brings irrevocable change to the fabric of pop music…even if chart placements and sales figures don’t back it up. The Ramones or Velvet Underground, are two such examples. Or Beck, who came along with a nineties defining postmodern, genre-combining pastiche slacker sound to fill the void when Kurt Cobain died, Nirvana broke up, and we all wondered what was next. “Loser” was a top 10 hit, but afer that, only music critics and generally cool people religiously bought anything Beck released, who has never enjoy blockbuster sales on par with his daunting influence or personality. But Mr. Hansen’s rap/rock combo, slackerism, and lo-fi DIY aesthetic would certainly be felt throughout music from then until now and beyond. It’s ironic then that an act that sounded too much like Beck would fail to notch a hit song. And that act was Dallas’s MC 900 Ft. Jesus, part-rapper, part experimenter, part cynical badass, equal parts Beck and another, similar contemporary, …

Greatest Un-Hits: Fretblanket’s “Into the Ocean” (1997)

In the post-Nirvana, post-grunge rock landscape, dominance by a new genre was totally up for grabs. Would it be power pop, a la Matthew Sweet? Lite grunge, or “mallternative”? Britpop? Mallternative (Candlebox, Collective Soul, Seven Mary Three, Third Eye Blind) won in the short-term, but Britpop did make some inroads in the U.S., with Oasis, Blur, the Verve, and Pulp, among others scoring alternative rock and even pop hits. So then why not Stourbridge, England’s finest, Fretblanket? “Into the Ocean” is an earwormy lost classic, laden with hooks, harmonies, and utter nineties-ness. Also going for it, according to one of the commenters on the song’s video on YouTube (where this clip has a shameful 8,300 hits), the lead singer is “Robert Pattinson pretty.”

“Into the Ocean” even had an industry push…for a while. It was selected by MTV for its short-lived viewer-panel approval show 12 Angry Viewers. It won the week it was on, with the prize a promised spot on MTV’s (ever-shrinking) playlist and with that some Blur/Verve/Pulp/Oasis …

Friday Night Videos!: The Hits of 1992

In the ever-evolving column we call Friday Night Videos!, there’s always room for expansion. This week, with Thanksgiving vittles solidly out of our systems (and it took a whole two weeks, and one round of Mellowmas to do it!), and holiday parties with loads of “comfort food” increasing the vast waistband of pop culture, expansion continues. When we began the staff tabulation, the obvious (to all but me) inclusion would be the percentile ranking. This week, you’ll find out how the videos did in our ever-so-democratic voting process. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll sing “Last Christmas” like it was going out of style (and, oddly enough, we thought it had). Ready to play the Match Game? “The Popdose Reader took a look at the videos from 1992 and cried, these are all BLANK…” Mit der Six Votes! Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-A-Lot: A video asstacular of enormous proportions. One – U2: The last temptation of St. Bono. Five Golden Votes! My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It) – En Vogue: The concept of this …

Bootleg City: Doesn’t Smell Like Team Spirit to Me

As most of you know by now, “The Goon and the Prune” didn’t shoot a single frame of film in Bootleg City. Amnesty International caught wind of the filmmakers’ plans to use local citizens as human crash test dummies in a massive “zombie demolition derby” action sequence and promptly cried foul, blanketing the town with banners that read “Extras are people too!” and forcing the production to hire professional stuntmen. Unfortunately for us, the stuntmen are back in California, so that’s where “The Goon and the Prune” is headed “unless we can work out some tax breaks with Arizona’s governor in exchange for helping her with that illegal immigrant problem,” according to one of the film’s producers. It’s a crushing blow to our local economy and tourism industry, not to mention the quarterly earnings of Bootleg City’s hospitals and funeral parlors. So who blew the whistle in Amnesty International’s direction? I think I might know …

CD Review: The Whigs, “In the Dark”

The power trio has had a long and glorious history in the annals of rock and roll. The simple, but often explosive blend of electric guitar, bass, and drums is rock and roll at its most elemental. Buddy Holly and the Crickets are often thought of as the first power trio. In the 1960’s, bands like Cream, Mountain, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience followed their lead. The format exploded in the ’70s, with bands like the James Gang, Grand Funk Railroad, ZZ Top, the Jam, the Police, Rush, and the Robin Trower Band. After falling out of favor briefly in the ’80s, the power trio format returned in a big way with bands like Husker Du, Primus, Nirvana, the Minutemen, and Green Day. And that’s not even including bands that are power trios in musical terms, but have a lead singer. This twist on the form includes such stalwarts as U2, the Who, Led Zeppelin, the Sex Pistols, and Black Sabbath. Then there’s that bastard-child keyboards, bass and drums thing (Emerson, Lake, and Palmer anyone?), …

Rock Court, Small Claims Division: Killing Joke v. Nirvana

All rise. The rules of this courtroom are simple. You will be presented with two songs, one by the plaintiff and one by the defendant. It is your task to decide if the defendant’s track is only coincidentally similar to the plaintiffs or, as members of the Bar Association put it, they’re down with O.P.I.P. (Other People’s Intellectual Property.) You have been duly instructed. Today’s docket: Killing Joke, plaintiffs vs. Nirvana, defendants.