Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Bloody Valentine-Geek!

My Bloody Valentine’s debut mini-album This is Your Bloody Valentine was released in January of 1985 to very little fanfare as it led to the departure of keyboardist Tina Durkin as the band went on a brief hiatus. Settling in London for a change of scenery, the band gained a new bassist in Debbie Googe. The band that would also consist of vocalist Dave Conway, guitarist Kevin Shields, and drummer Colm O’Ciosoig would join Googe in creating an EP that the band hoped at the time would give them a break as it was entitled Geek!

Produced by My Bloody Valentine and songs written by Dave Conway and Kevin Shields, Geek! is a record that is similar to band’s previous debut in their fascination with post-punk and the noisy guitar sounds of the Jesus & Mary Chain. The 13-minute, four-track record, in its 12-inch setting, shows more of the noisy guitar work that Shields was developing though was still mired in the post-punk and indie-pop sound that the band was flirting with at the time. While the record shows a band still trying to find an identity in the early stage of their career. It’s definitely their worst output of their entire discography.

Opening the record is No Place to Go that features noisy guitar sounds with rockabilly riffs, a steady upbeat rhythm, and Dave Conway’s baritone vocals as he sings very silly lyrics as it’s definitely the worst song the band has ever created. Moonlight is another upbeat track with swirling guitar noises with acoustic guitar washes and a bopping rhythm. Conway’s low-register vocals play to its lyrics though its production is very muddled with not much emphasis on its bass and drums as the guitars drown out everything else.

Love Machine is led by its driving yet chainsaw-sounding guitars with its upbeat yet walloping beats and Conway’s vocals as he sings very silly lyrics that really have no power. The closing track Sandman Never Sleeps is a more upbeat, rhythmic track with its pounding beats and driving guitar as Conway sings dark lyrics filled with nightmarish imagery that is quite silly.

Geek! is not a good record from My Bloody Valentine due to its very muddy, lo-fi production that doesn’t allow a lot of the instruments to sound properly. In fact, it’s pretty much their worst recording of their early career because there’s no real sense of direction and the fact that Dave Conway is not a very good vocalist. It’s a record that only hardcore MBV fans should check out so they can hear what the band was trying to do at the time. In the end, Geek! is truly a poor EP from My Bloody Valentine.

My Bloody Valentine Reviews: Studio Albums: (Isn’t Anything) - (Loveless)

Compilations: (Ecstasy & Wine)

EPs: This is Your Bloody Valentine - The New Record by My Bloody Valentine - Sunny Sundae Smile - (You Made Me Realise) - (Feed Me With Your Kiss) - (Glider) - (Tremolo)

© thevoid99 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Bloody Valentine-This is Your Bloody Valentine

Formed in Dublin in 1983 by guitarist Kevin Shields and drummer Colm O’Ciosoig, My Bloody Valentine started out as an indie band that featured vocalist Dave Conway and his girlfriend/keyboardist Tina Durkin. Influenced by the Jesus & Mary Chain, the group were also into the world of jangle-pop and post-punk as the fused the varied sounds that was miles away from the shoegaze sound that would later define the band in the late 80s and early 90s. In January of 1985, the band would release their debut in the form of a mini-album that was entitled This is Your Bloody Valentine.

Produced by My Bloody Valentine and songs written by the trio of Dave Conway, Colm O’Ciosoig, and Kevin Shields. This is Your Bloody Valentine is an album where MBV started out as a post-punk band with its energetic sound as well as Dave Conway’s vocals which is similar to the baritone vocal style of Joy Division vocalist Ian Curtis. The EP that clocks at nearly twenty-five-and-a-half minutes shows what the band was before they became the influential shoe gaze band that is revered by many in this interesting although unoriginal debut record.

Opening the record is Forever and Again that is led by a baritone-heavy bass line and ringing guitar chimes with tapping beats as Conway sings dark lyrics with his low-heavy vocals. The mid-tempo track picks up a bit in this Goth-inspired track that includes Tina Durkin’s soft keyboards. Homelovin’ Guy is an upbeat rocker with driving guitars and pummeling beats as Conway sings indecipherable lyrics while Shields brings in a wailing guitar solo. Don’t Cramp My Style is a fast, energetic track with pounding beats and thrashing guitars as Conway snarls through with his vocals and punk-inspired lyrics. Tiger in My Tank is another fast, upbeat track with a driving guitar riff and walloping beats while Conway sings in his low-vocal register to talk about a car.

The Love Gang is an energetic track with washy guitar noises, crashing drums, and Conway’s vocals that delve into very silly yet derivative lyrics. Inferno is a menacing yet raucous rocker with drums going all over the place with driving guitars and wailing keyboards as Conway continues to sing in his hollow vocals. The closing track in The Last Supper, as the track is led by Durkin’s flowing organ-like keyboard and sputtering rhythms that is followed by spurting guitars and Conway’s vocals. Featuring lyrics that is about a last supper, it’s a fitting closer to a very un-thrilling album.

This is Your Bloody Valentine is a decent but very derivative record from My Bloody Valentine. While there’s hints of the noisy guitar work that Kevin Shields would use in the later recordings that would define the band. It’s nothing more than just a pretty weak mix of the Jesus & Mary Chain as if it was sung by Ian Curtis that doesn’t really work. For hardcore fans of MBV, this is a record to get only if they’re really interested while casual fans should just avoid it and stick to the later, great work of the band from the late 80s/early 90s. In the end, This is Your Bloody Valentine is an OK record from My Bloody Valentine.

My Bloody Valentine Reviews: Studio Albums: (Isn’t Anything) - (Loveless)

Compilations: (Ecstasy & Wine)

EPs: Geek! - The New Record by My Bloody Valentine - Sunny Sundae Smile - (You Made Me Realise) - (Feed Me With Your Kiss) - (Glider) - (Tremolo)

© thevoid99 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

1991-20: 1991-Indie Pt. 4: The Ascension of Grunge

Part 4: Nirvana & The Arrival of Grunge

When the hardcore punk scene of the early 1980s formed around various regions across the U.S., one of the cities that was inspired by this movement was Seattle, Washington. With bands that was forming around that time like the Melvins from Montesano, Washington, there was a new scene that was different from the hardcore punk scene in the U.S. Inspired by acts like Black Flag as well as Black Sabbath and Neil Young, the music that would be grunge would emerge through early Seattle bands such as Soundgarden and Green River. The latter of which featured future members of bands like Mudhoney and Mother Love Bone.

The 1986 compilation Deep Six that featured early recordings of Green River, Soundgarden, and the Melvins provided a buzz in the local music scene as things started to develop in the Pacific Northwest. The new wave of bands from these areas led to the formation of Sub Pop Records by Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman as they released a lot of singles and EPs from bands of the area. The small successes the label had along with other labels exposing the Seattle music led to Soundgarden signing a major deal with A&M Records in 1989. With other new bands such as Screaming Trees, Alice in Chains, Tad, and Mother Love Bone coming around with their first albums. It was clear something was happening as even the British music press took notice.

By 1991, the music scene was starting to become bigger than ever as bands like Mudhoney, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains were getting attention. Alice in Chains had released their debut album Facelift in August of 1990 that featured the song Man in the Box that became their breakthrough hit as it was a huge hit for rock radio and MTV. Mudhoney and Soundgarden would release their own breakthrough albums that each showed different sides of the music. Mudhoney’s Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge was considered to be their best album as they had a sound that was more inspired by punk. Soundgarden released Badmotorfinger in August of 1991 that showed a more hard rock sound to their repertoire. Though many thought Mudhoney would be the band to break through, it would be another band that would capture the attention of the music scene.

Unlike the hypnotic metal of Alice in Chains, the psychedelic rock of Screaming Trees, the garage-punk of Mudhoney, and the blazing hard rock sound of Soundgarden, Nirvana stood out among its contemporaries with its blend of punk, rock, and pop. While Nirvana proved to be a very noisy band, the band’s vocalist/guitarist/lyricist Kurt Cobain had a love for pop music from acts like the Beatles to the Vaselines as he often covered songs by the latter. Though their 1989 debut Bleach was a minor hit with college radio, the band wanted to move forward as they met an up-and-coming producer named Butch Vig in April of 1990.

The sessions with Vig would prove to be a turning point as the band were seeking a new drummer as they met Dave Grohl from the Washington D.C. hardcore band Scream. Once Grohl came into the picture, Nirvana became a very different band as they went into the studio in mid-1991 to record what would be their breakthrough called Nevermind. The album sessions was followed by a tour of Europe with the legendary noise-rock band Sonic Youth that was documented for the 1992 documentary 1991: The Year that Punk Broke that also featured the noise-rock band Dinosaur Jr., riot-grrl trio Babes in Toyland, and punk legends the Ramones. The album’s release in September 24, 1991 proved to be a landmark moment as it was followed by the release of the single Smells Like Teen Spirit.

The song and its accompanying music video started off slow but those who saw it requested it as it marked a change into the rock landscape. By the end of the year, Nevermind was becoming big as it was selling more than what David Geffen’s DGC label expected. Then on January 11, 1992, the unthinkable happened when Nevermind knocked Michael Jackson’s Dangerous out of the number one spot of the Billboard 200 album charts. It was the moment the entire musical landscape would change forever though for a band like Nirvana. Success wasn’t easy to handle as they were on the covers of many magazines and were getting lots of attention which proved to be too much for Kurt Cobain. Cobain’s own issues with his dependence on heroin, stomach illness, and other personal issues would lead to his suicide on April 5, 1994.

While the release of Nevermind proved to be a big moment for the music scene, it would put away attention from other releases from other bands from Seattle. Yet, it also brought some attention to bands like Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Screaming Trees where Seattle was the new capital of cool in 1992. Another band that had just came out with their first album but less than a month before the release of Nevermind was the album Ten from Pearl Jam.

Pearl Jam was a band that came from the founding members of Green River in guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament. After Green River disbanded in 1987, Gossard and Ament formed Mother Love Bone as they were set for a breakthrough until the death of singer Andrew Wood in 1990 just before the release of their only full-length release Apple. After some time off tour mourn, Gossard and Ament met guitarist Mike McCready where they worked on a project with Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron for a one-off project called Temple of the Dogs. The project included an unknown vocalist named Eddie Vedder as the album was released in April of 1991.

Gossard, Ament, McCready, and Vedder along with drummer Dave Krusin formed Pearl Jam as they went to record their debut album Ten in the spring of 1991. Though its release was initially slow, the band was able to gain steam through touring as they opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Smashing Pumpkins in the fall of that year. Then came the single Alive that proved to be their breakthrough hit. While Pearl Jam was becoming popular, they were accused by critics for riding off the success of Nirvana that many later said was unfair. Yet, Pearl Jam would end up proving to be the more influential band as Ten provided the template for rock music in the years to come despite the band’s reluctance to go mainstream. Still of all the bands of the grunge music scene, they would prove to be the one to last long despite a revolving door of drummers until Soundgarden’s Matt Cameron joined the band in 1998.

The end of 1991 saw Seattle becoming the place of where it’s at as the music scene was changing. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains would become the forces to lead this new wave of rock music emerging as the next year saw them become big despite their reluctance to be mainstream. Yet, it gave rock listeners something new as it would wipe out everything mainstream rock was at the time and told all of hair bands of the 1980s to go home. The arrival of grunge and its inception towards the pop charts would help usher in the era that was known as alternative music. Yet, there was something else that year that proved that there was lot more to alternative than just grunge.

1991-20: 1991 in Music: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3

1991 Indie: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3 - Pt. 5 - Pt. 6

The 50 Best Albums of 1991: 50-26 - 25-11 - 10-2 - Favorite Albums #1

© thevoid99 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Primal Scream-Screamadelica (20th Anniversary Edition)

When Primal Scream arrived in the mid-80s as an indie-pop band with an ever-changing line-up that had then included vocalist Bobby Gillespie, guitarists Andrew Innes and Robert “Throb” Young, and then-part time keyboardist Martin Duffy. Following a couple of albums that featured their indie-pop sound with elements of traditional rock and jangle-pop, the band wasn’t going anywhere until one of their songs from their second self-titled in I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have was remixed by a house DJ named Andrew Weatherall that became the track Loaded.

Spurred by the remix, that was released in 1990, and the introduction of the acid house music scene at the time. Primal Scream decided to change gears a bit to reflect what was going on in British music as they brought in Weatherall to help produce the album along with various others that included the ambient-house duo the Orb, Hugo Nicolson, Hypnotone, and legendary Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller. Drawing upon various musical styles into one entire album, the result wouldn’t just be a breakthrough for the band. It would be an album that would change the face of British popular music as it was called Screamadelica.

Produced by Andrew Weatherall, Jimmy Miller, Hypnotone, the Orb, and Hugo Nicolson, Screamadelica is a concoction of an album where everything happens for the ultimate party album. Featuring different styles of music from acid house, blues-rock, dub, gospel, ambient, and indie. The album also dwells into various lyrical themes recalling a party going all over the place. The result is truly one of the most thrilling and intoxicating albums of the 1990s.

Opening the album is the upbeat Movin’ On Up with its gospel-inspired lyrics, driving guitar, and soulful piano as Bobby Gillespie sings in bluesy vocal style to its inspirational lyrics that includes a gospel choir. The song is followed by a bopping electronic beats, Martin Duffy’s blues-based pianos, and wailing guitar solos to maintain its mix of acid-dance and gospel. A cover of 13th Floor Elevator’s Slip Inside This House is a track that is given hypnotic, electronic make-over with throbbing rhythms, flourishing keyboards, and a bopping bass line as Gillespie sings the psychedelic-induced song. Featuring elements of sitars and wailing guitars, it’s the track that maintains the acid-house ideas into the record.

Don’t Fight It, Feel It is a house-inspired track led by Denise Johnson’s evocative yet soulful vocals that is carried by the track’s upbeat yet dance-driven rhythm. Filled with party-driven lyrics, textured keyboard loops, and bits of crunching guitar, it’s a song that really gets the party into a major high. Higher Than the Sun is a chilling yet somber piece led by fluid keyboard wails and Gillespie’s swooning vocals that is filled with hazy lyrics, walloping beats, and high-pitch wails for this slow yet mesmerizing cut. The ambient-inspired instrumental Inner Flight is led by Gillespie’s falsetto-laden vocals that is filled with layers of ominous keyboards and swooning synthesizers that soars through the track to continue the hypnotic party vibe of the album.

The ten-minute, twenty-five second track Come Together opens with Jesse Jackson’s speech at the 1972 Wattstax concert which goes on for about half of the house-gospel track with wailing organs and swirling keyboards accompanying Jackson’s voice. With a female voice singing inspirational lyrics, throbbing beats and a blues-based piano help accompany the track as it is the album’s major highlight. Loaded opens with voice sample of Peter Fonda from The Wild Angels for this acid-house track with a group of gospel voices kicking things off. Featuring an array of samples that includes Andie MacDowell’s voice from sex, lies, & videotape, drum loops from Edie Brickell’s What I Am, and Gillespie singing bluesy lyrics. The track is one of the band’s greatest cuts as it features hypnotic, throbbing beats and a bluesy guitar that keeps the party going.

The blues-inspired Damaged is led by Martin Duffy’s somber piano and Gillespie’s soulful vocals with heartbreaking lyrics. Featuring a soft, smooth percussion track and a wailing vocal, the song goes into a touching blues-rocker that features a wailing guitar solo from Henry Olsen. I’m Comin’ Down is an ambient-driven track with a gong slowly playing in the background as Gillespie sings hazy lyrics to wind down the party atmosphere of the album. Featuring a bleeping yet hypnotic keyboard that becomes more soaring along with a evocative saxophone, it’s one of the album’s standout cuts.

A dub-driven version of Higher Than the Sun (A Dub Symphony in Two Parts) starts off as an eerie, synthesizer-driven cut with slow, metallic beats in the background that is surrounded by Gillespie’s vocals as it later becomes a throbbing, bass-driven track led by Jah Wobble’s bass with melodic keyboard riffs and walloping beats in the background. The album closer is the soft, electronic-based Shine Like Stars as it features tingling keyboards and throbbing beats as Gillespie sings cosmic lyrics as he’s later followed by swooning keyboards to close the album.

The 20th Anniversary edition of the album features the album remastered in its entirety, by the members of Primal Scream and Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, to emphasize more layers to the production work made by varied producers for the album. The edition also features three additional discs of material for the release that includes remixes, rarities, live tracks, and a remastered version of the 1992 Dixie-Narco EP that was recorded at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee.

The second disc is a live performance from the Los Angeles Palladium in 1992 as it opens with Movin’ On Up that is filled with more driving guitars and walloping percussions as it is followed by a blazing piano flourish. Slip Inside This House maintains its throbbing, acid-dance presentation with some guitars playing in the background. The more upbeat Don’t Fight It, Feel It that is filled with swanky guitar riffs and pulsating beats to keep the party going. I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have keeps the energy going for its upbeat, blues-rocker with some blazing guitars and a smooth, pulsating rhythm with lyrics of the Faces' Stay with Me in the song. The ballad Damaged slow things down a bit as the vocals of Bobby Gillespie and Denise Johnson are a real highlight of the song as it features a live drum track for the performance. A shortened performance of Screamadelica brings the house vibe of the show back with some trumpets and throbbing percussions playing with some swanky guitars.

Loaded ups the party vibe going with its acid-house presentation with beats, electronic textures, a blaring horn section, and funky guitar riffs. Come Together, which is presented in its American version, features vocals by Gillespie and Johnson as they play off each other to the song’s house-driven vibe. Higher Than the Sun adds a bit of reggae to the song as it features more wailing guitars to the slow, acid-dance presentation along with lyrics from various artists like Led Zeppelin and Sly Stone. Things close down in a couple of rock covers for a blazing cover of John Lennon’s Cold Turkey and charging cover of the Stooges’ No Fun, the latter of featuring lyrics of the Stooges’ Gimme Danger.

The third disc is a collection of remixes for a few of the singles released from the album plus a couple of rarities. The first two remixes are for the song Loaded where the first is a 12” mix by Terry Farley that features more pianos and trumpets for the track along with vocals from the original song I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have. The second remix is a 7” mix by Pat Collier that is essentially a shorter mix of the song with edits on the instrumentals and samples. The next five remixes are for the song Come Together as the first is a short, 7” mix of a U.S. version of the song by Terry Farley with less instrumentals and more vocals from Bobby Gillespie. The second mix is a 7” mix by Andrew Weatherall is essentially a shortened mix of the original song. The extended 12” Terry Farley mix of the song is the song that appears in the U.S. version of the album that features more bluesy piano, Gillespie’s vocals, and throbbing beats for a gospel-house track.

The Hypnotone Brain Machine mix of the track is a fast-paced mix with more scratchy, throbbing beats and flashy synthesizer blares for a wild, acid-house driven track. The BBG mix of the track features shimmering keyboards, walloping beats, and warbling bass lines to play up the gospel elements of the track. The next three tracks are remixes for Higher Than the Sun as the first is a mix by the Orb that features more ambient textures to play up the beats with additional bass warbles. The second mix is a 12” mix that extends the track by nearly two minutes with additional synthesizer warbles and extended instrumental pieces. The third mix entitled (American Spring Mix) adds elements of the dubbed version plus the original track with Gillespie’s vocals.

The next four tracks are remixes for the song Don’t Fight It, Feel It as the first is an edited 7” mix by Andrew Weatherall that is essentially a shortened mix of the track with the vocals opening up the track. The second mix is by Graham Massey that features brief sitar flourishes to open the track as it’s mostly carried by throbbing beats, driving guitars, and layers of fluid synthesizers to play up the dance presentation as it includes heightened vocals. The scat mix by Andrew Weatherall that is essentially an extended mix of his 7” mix with more metallic beats, throbbing rhythms, and extended house piano riffs. The (High High…) mix by Graham Massey is essentially the same mix as his other remix though it includes a bit of additional synthesizers in the background. The two extra tracks that appear on the third disc includes I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have that appeared in the band’s self-titled second album and a live, raucous cover of the MC5’s Ramblin’ Rose.

The fourth disc is the Dixie-Narco EP that opens up with Movin’ On Up while it features three other tracks. The first is Stone My Soul, a blues-inspired track that features a somber piano and Gillespie’s soulful vocals with a twangy guitar slide. The third track is a cover of the Beach Boys’ Carry Me Home that starts off as a blues-driven track with a gospel choir and reverb guitars as Gillespie sings the song’s dreamy lyrics before becoming this ominous track with swooning keyboards. The closing track of the EP is a ten-minute, fifty-second track called Screamadelica that is essentially a house-driven track with throbbing beats, a smooth trumpet, a melodic flute, and rhythmic keyboards as female vocalists sings the song that goes through various stylistic changes throughout.

Released in September 23, 1991 in Britain, the album was the band’s breakthrough as it was well-received with critics while becoming a major hit in the British charts. In the U.S., the album received moderate success as it helped define the acid-dance movement at its peak as the British music scene was still in need of an alternative from the mainstream pop that was dominating the charts. The album would win many accolades from critics including the first ever Mercury Music Prize in 1992 as the band was becoming one of the key acts in Britain for the years to come.

Screamadelica is an exotic yet mesmerizing album from Primal Scream featuring an amazing array of music styles carried by the various producers involved with the album. For people new to the group, this record is definitely the best place to start with as it would lead other great albums like Vanishing Point and XTRMNTR. The album’s 20th Anniversary edition is something that hardcore fans must have as it features rarities and material that they would love to have. In the end, Screamadelica is truly one of the definitive party albums ever created from Primal Scream.

Primal Scream Albums: (Sonic Flower Groove) - (S/T) - (Give Out but Don’t Give Up) - Vanishing Point - (Echo Dek) - (XTRMNTR) - (Evil Heat) - (Dirty Hits) - (Shoot Speed: More Dirty Hits) - (Live in Japan) - (Riot City Blues) - (Beautiful Future)

© thevoid99 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Primal Scream-Vanishing Point

Originally Written and Posted at on 11/2/05 w/ Additional Edits.

When Primal Scream came out with their third album Screamadelica in 1991, it was the album that blew the U.K. away as it marked the end of the vibrant, rhythmic Madchester era and pushed dance music further with a bit of rock, house, soul, and electronic music to the mix. In 1992, the band won the first ever Mercury Music Prize for artistic achievement in the U.K. as its singer Bobby Gillespie was a star along with his band members Robert Young and Andrew Innes along with new keyboardist Martin Duffy. Immediately, anticipation for their follow-up album was heating up. In 1994, they released their follow-up album entitled Give Out but Don't Give Up which was a return to the band's rock roots.

Despite a hit song in the U.S. with Rocks and opening for Depeche Mode in their world tour, Give Out but Don't Give Up received lukewarm reviews and fans who wanted something more edgy was disappointed. The band took a break only to return in 1996 with Screamadelica producer Andrew Weatherall for an instrumental title track to Danny Boyle's 1996 landmark drug film Trainspotting which won back a lot of fans. The band regrouped themselves for their next record in which the band decided to move away from the psychedelic and house style of Screamadelica for a much darker album entitled Vanishing Point after the 1971 car-chase cult classic by director Richard Sarafin starring Barry Newman, Cleavon Little, and in the U.K. cut, Charlotte Rampling.

If Screamadelica was the ultimate party album splashed with Ecstacy, psychedelics, and lots of color. Vanishing Point is a post-party album where heroin is the drug of choice, the colors are a lot darker,  and everyone is a bit hung over while watching some dark cult films. Produced by Primal Scream and Brendan Lynch with the track Trainspotting produced by Andrew Weatherall, the band does a bit of rocking but without a lot of the blues from their previous record. The main focus is a lot darker with dashes of 60s psychedelia, dub, art-rock, electronic music, and some funk courtesy of the band's then-new bass player, Gary "Mani" Mounfield of the Stone Roses. Released in 1997, Vanishing Point is a record that sets the mood for a dark hangover filled with pop culture references and lots and lots of trippy lyrics.

Through its distorted waves of noises mixed in with Pink Floyd's Interstellar Overdrive comes the opening track Burning Wheel. With its swirls of psychedelia and British trad rock, the band comes in as Bobby Gillespie sings his trippy, drug-induced lyrics with the hypnotic keyboards of Martin Duffy, Marco Nelson's throbbing bass lines, and the crashing guitars of Andrew Innes and Robert Young. Accompanied by mid-tempo, bopping beats, the song is filled with a great hook in the chorus as Gillespie's vocals just wails in this ode to Pink Floyd. Next is the instrumental track Get Duffy is a dub-based track with wandering beats simmering across Martin Duffy's organ melodies and wavy guitar riffs by Innes & Young. With echoes of metallic beats in the background and distorted buzzes behind Brendan Lynch's production, the instrumental is hypnotic in its mood and in Duffy's keyboards.

The big single from the album is Kowalski after the hero of the film Vanishing Point as Cleavon Little's super-soul DJ's voice is heard. Then Mani's throb-heavy bass lines arrive through the swirls of guitar and keyboards distortions. Then Bobby Gillespie whispers with his vocals for the song's hero as he repeats the film's title. With its ringing of keyboards and sirens of guitars, it's Mani's bass that gives the song its dark, demented feel as Gillespie goes into some of his trippy lyrics as he sings for the anti-hero Kowalski in his journey on the road with the DJ guiding him. Star opens its electronic-accompanied, shimmering beats and harmonic keyboards as the song is a smooth, laid-back track. With Gillespie singing the song's psychedelic-fused lyrics with his soulful lyrics. It's a retread of the band’s sound of Screamadelica with more swirls of electronic music, accompanying horns, and buzzing distortions of keyboards that is melodic for its seduction.

The next instrumental track is If They Move, Kill 'Em that opens with a ringing siren of keyboards that is followed by Marco Nelson's funk-induced bass lines as the guitars come crashing in with its mix of funk and rock. With the waa-waa guitars playing behind the swirls of electronic distortions, horns follow in this mix of dub, rock, electronic, and soul as the theremin sirens come wailing. Out Of The Void is another song that is filled with Duffy's hypnotic organs and swirls of sirens through Lynch's production. Gillespie reaches to darker lyrics of drug abuse as if he just got out of a party gone horribly bad. With Mani's bass line providing a dub feel to the song along with the melodic-blues guitar work of Innes and Young, the song is a standout for its dark tone. Stuka is a dub-based track with throbbing bass lines and smooth, reggae beats along with its swirls of doorbells, guitars, and synthesizers. The most rhythmic song of the track, Gillespie sings through a robotic vocoder with dark, sinful lyrics as he sings, "I got an original sin" as Duffy's synthesizer wails through Lynch's distorted, layer production.

The band returns to straight-ahead rock for Medication with its mid-tempo, bouncing drums, and blues-induced guitars as the band goes for an old-school Stones sound with Gillespie's rocking, sexy lyrics as he fuses his soulful vocals for the song. In this ode to the Stones' sound, this track is a real standout for the band's straightforward approach with Glen Matlock providing the right bass feel for the song to Innes & Young's guitars. The next rock track is a cover of the Motorhead song simply titled Motorhead that opens with distorted, growling vocals as it opens with fast-paced, electronic beats and Mani's driving bass lines through its crashing, siren sounding guitars and Gillespie singing Lemmy Kilmeister's dark lyrics. Though the band doesn't go for speed, they do manage to conjure a trippy approach to the Motorhead song that ends with crashing layers of sounds through Lynch's production.

Next is an 8-minute version of the instrumental track Trainspotting that is produced by Andrew Weatherall as the track is filled with bass-pounding beats and Weatherall's amazing production filled with distorted guitar swirls. With sirens and voices playing in the background, beats come in along with melodic guitar riffs and Duffy's organ playing. Of all the instrumental tracks, this one stands out for its production and tone of the track that is filled with harmonic keyboards and it plays well to the film which the track was named after. The album closer is the slow but seductive Long Life where it opens with Duffy's simmering synthesizer notes as the siren of guitars and throbbing bass lines come in with slow, reverb drums. Gillespie sings the song with his cool, nocturnal vocals through lyrics that are very dark as if he just survived another party gone bad as he claims it's good to be alive. With his falsetto vocals in the background through the layers of Lynch's production, guitars start to come in playing distorted, melodic riffs as the album winds down with a hangover induced close.

When the album came out in 1997, the album not only received critical acclaim but won back whatever fans they had lost through their misguided return to trad-rock. While the album didn't do very well in the U.S., in the U.K. it was a monster hit as it established the band as one of the best in the U.K. Following a tour, the band released the rarities record Echo Dek that featured remixes and outtakes from the sessions of Vanishing Point. Still, the band with its new lineup was just getting started as they would take the dark sound of Vanishing Point to new heights with their 2000 follow-up, the politically-charged XTRMNTR. Compared to 1991's Screamadelica and 2000's XTRMNTR, they’re all party albums. Screamadelica starts out as a party album filled with psychedelic drugs that winds down to its haziness. Vanishing Point comes off where the party takes a dark turn where late-night TV watching has become a day-to-day thing and there's a reach for hopefulness. XTRMNTR is where the party is now in hell as the world has lost its point and everything is thrown into chaos.

While Vanishing Point doesn't have the variety of Screamadelica in terms of vibrant songs or the rocking edge of XTRMNTR, it's still an amazing album from Primal Scream. It's also their darkest of their career so far through its hypnotic yet brooding production as well as the performance from the band. Yet, it's a record that allows Primal Scream to keep going following the disappointing results of Give Out But Don't Give Up. In the end, Vanishing Point is a chilling yet intoxicating album from Primal Scream.

Primal Scream Albums: (Sonic Flower Groove) - (S/T) - Screamadelica - (Give Out But Don't Give Up) - (Echo Dek) - (XTRMNTR) - (Evil Heat) - (Dirty Hits) - (Shoot Speed: More Dirty Hits) - (Live in Japan) - (Riot City Blues) - (Beautiful Future)

(C) thevoid99 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nirvana-Nevermind (20th Anniversary Super-Deluxe Editon)

Before they would become the band that would signify a change in the world of popular music, Nirvana were just a small band from Aberdeen, Washington that had a sound that mixed the Seattle-based sound of grunge with elements of melodic pop. Led by vocalist/guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic, the band had just released their debut album Bleach in June of 1989 through the indie-based Sub Pop label. The band that included Chad Channing on drums at the time, Nirvana were becoming a favorite in the underground scene as they found fans in the U.K. and parts of the U.S., notably in the American Northwest.

Following some sessions in early 1990 with an up-and-coming producer named Butch Vig, Chad Channing left the group as the band was searching for a new drummer. After the Melvins’ Dale Crover filling in for some shows, the band finally found their permanent drummer in Dave Grohl who had just left the Washington, D.C.-based hardcore band Scream. After a fall-out with the Sub Pop label and signing to the DGC label, the band went to the studio with Butch Vig in the spring of 1991 to record their second album that would change the landscape of popular music.

Produced by Butch Vig, Nevermind is an album where the band combined their early, raucous punk-inspired grunge sound with the pop elements of bands like R.E.M. and Pixies. Featuring an array of songs that is filled with themes of angst, heartbreak, and alienation that had been previously explored in Bleach but from a more direct palette. The music features an array of more melodic elements to the performance as well as an energy that was very new at the time in the age of hair metal and corporate rock. The overall result would be one of the greatest albums ever made.

Leading the album is its first single entitled Smells Like Teen Spirit. Led by a driving, crunching riff that then goes into a louder, abrasive sound spurred by Dave Grohl’s pummeling beats and Krist Novoselic’s heavy bass. It’s a song that plays to the dynamics of being loud and the going soft as Kurt Cobain sings about the disappointments and anger of being young as the song blazes into a loud, upbeat form with its chorus and Cobain‘s raspy yet charging vocals. The fourth single In Bloom is a mid-tempo track that features the same loud-soft dynamic as it features driving guitars, loopy bass lines, and steady drum fills that rolls for its chorus. Cobain sings in a calm vocal to reflective lyrics about conformity with a sense of humor as it goes into a louder yet slightly upper tempo for its chorus.

The swooning Come As You Are features a melodic bass and guitar riff, based on Killing Joke’s Eighties, that is carried by Grohl’s calm yet smooth drum fill as Cobain sings in slow rasp to strange, esoteric lyrics as the song’s tempo changes a bit to more thrilling yet blazing track with heavy rhythms and a wailing guitar. The fast-paced Breed is led by growling guitar sludge that blazes through with Grohl’s heavy yet frenetic drum fills and Novoselic’s low bass as Cobain sings in a fast, growling vocal to some angry lyrics that reflect Cobain’s own issues with heartbreak and moving on. Lithium is a song that starts off soft with just a simple guitar strum as Cobain sings spiteful yet reflective lyrics filled with an element of salvation. The song then goes into a heavy, raging track with pummeling rhythms and charging guitars as it returns to its soft presentation and then back to loud as it’s one of the band’s memorable single.

Polly is a soft yet dark ballad about a rape that happened as Cobain sings the song in a soft, calm vocal with a strumming guitar, Novoselic’s melodic bass, and a cymbal crash from original drummer Chad Channing as Cobain sings the chorus with Grohl on backing vocals. Territorial Pissings opens with Novoselic singing off-key to Chet Baker’s Get Together as it becomes a frenetic yet charging track with fast-playing rhythms and driving guitars as Cobain sings angry lyrics to his growling rasp as it’s a song that takes no prisoners in its delivery. Drain You is another up-tempo song that starts off with Cobain singing snarling lyrics as he continues once Grohl’s pounding drums and Novoselic’s low bass follow Cobain’s driving guitar. The song features a bit of a tempo change for its chorus as well as an instrumental section that plays with the song’s dynamic.

Lounge Act is a mid-tempo track with washy guitars, loopy bass lines, and a steady drum fill as Cobain sings in a calm vocal to reflect lyrics of love gone wrong and Cobain’s attempts to move on. The song features a dynamic of loud guitars in the chorus and more intensity in Cobain’s vocals later in the song. Stay Away is an upbeat song that starts off with Grohl’s pummeling drum rolls and Novoselic’s melodic bass as it becomes a more menacing track with Cobain’s blazing guitars and the song features a unique dynamic once it slows down a bit and then goes back to fast for its chorus. The song’s lyrics features angry lyrics that are very biting as Cobain sings them in a fast-paced vocal as he slows it down for the chorus.

On a Plain is an upbeat, mid-tempo track with a driving rhythm and growling guitars as Cobain sings in his calm rasp to the song’s direct yet content lyrics of heartbreak. The song’s powerful yet heavy presentation does slow down a bit as it’s followed by Novoselic’s melodic bass which proves to be one of the band’s gift into finding changing dynamics that can be accessible in a song like this. The acoustic ballad Something in the Way is a haunting track with Cobain’s soothing yet entrancing vocal that is filled with reflective lyrics of loneliness as the chorus includes Grohl’s backing vocals and Kirk Channing’s somber cello accompaniment. Closing the album is a secret track called Endless, Nameless that features a unique dynamic of blaring noises and a soft, steady sound of melodic guitars and smooth rhythms that goes back and forth to close the album.

The 2011 Super Deluxe Edition of the album features the original album remastered by Bob Ludwig, with the permission of Butch Vig and the surviving members of the band, to emphasize the band’s polished by unyielding performance that made the record famous. Notably in Vig’s superb production which has a raw yet atmospheric approach to the music. Featuring four discs of material including a DVD, the album delves into what made this album so revered as one of rock’s best albums.

The first disc features the original album remastered in its entirety along with nine B-sides, that were released for singles from the album, as bonus tracks. The first two B-sides for the Smells Like Teen Spirit single for the raucous yet charging Even In His Youth that features a bopping rhythm and Cobain’s growling vocals to the song’s snarling lyrics. The second B-side for Aneurysm is a song that has a unique loud/soft dynamic of blazing guitars, pummeling rhythms, and dark yet humorous lyrics that is one of the band’s most beloved B-sides. The next three B-sides are from the Lithium single. The first in the mid-tempo noise of Curmudgeon that features swirling guitars and hard-pounding drum fills as Cobain sings in a snarling growl to the song’s raging lyrics.

The next B-side is a cover of the Wipers’ D-7 recorded for a BBC session as it starts off as a soft, slow track and then becomes a faster, more intense song as it features a thrilling performance from the entire band. Been a Son is presented in a live performance with its bopping mid-tempo presentation as it’s the first of three live tracks that from the band’s legendary performance at the Paramount Theater in Seattle on Halloween in 1991. The next two live tracks from that show are B-sides to the Come As You Are single in the chaotic School and a fiery yet intense performance of Drain You. The next two B-sides for the single In Bloom are live performances of the bouncy Sliver and the haunting ballad Polly as their performed at a show on December 28, 1991 at the O’Brien Pavilion in Del Mar, California.

The second disc of the deluxe version of the album features two different studio sessions the band has recorded in 1990 and early 1991 plus two BBC session performances. The first eight tracks are from the Smart Studios session from April 2-6, 1990 with producer Butch Vig that featured original drummer Chad Channing in these sessions. Early versions of songs like In Bloom, Lithium, and Polly feature a rough mix as well different arrangements and lyrics. Songs like Breed and Stay Away as they’re each presented in different titles in Immodium and Pay to Play, respectively, as they‘re also presented in rough versions. Rarities like Sappy and Dive appear as the former is presented in a soft, mid-tempo track while the latter is the same version from Insecticide. There is an amazing cover of the Velvet Underground’s Here She Comes Now that is quite faithful to the original with a bit of noisy guitars.

The next eight tracks are rehearsal demos from March 1991 sessions that features Dave Grohl on drums. Tracks like Smells Like Teen Spirit, Come As You Are, Territorial Pissings, Lounge Act, On a Plain, and Something in the Way are each presented in very rough versions with alternate lyrics. Rarities like Verse Chorus Verse and Old Age are rough gems that really show the kind of songs that the band was aiming for at the time. The last two tracks are material recorded for different BBC sessions as the first is Drain You, that is performed for a September 1991 session with John Peel. The second is a session with Mark Goodier on November of 1991 for the song Something in the Way as it’s performed in a more harrowing version with its electric guitar and a slow, heavy rhythm for its chorus.

The third disc of the super deluxe edition of the album are more rough mixes of songs of the album from Devonshire Studios in Los Angeles on May of 1991 with producer Butch Vig. Featuring the album, minus Polly and Endless, Nameless, in its entirety, the mixes reveal that while the songs sound very close to the final versions of the album. The differences is that the mixes aren’t as polished as the final mix that Andy Wallace would put for the final album. The drums are a bit louder and the vocals aren’t as layered. Plus, some of the instrumentation isn’t as direct which is why Vig and Wallace took more time to work and tweak the album to its final form.

The fourth and final disc of the super deluxe edition is the band’s legendary performance in Seattle’s Paramount Theater on Halloween of 1991. Featuring songs like Been a Son, School, and Drain You that had previously appeared as B-sides for singles. They re-appear as part of the live performance which begins with a cover of the Vaselines’ Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam that has Cobain playing an electric guitar to start the song as it later becomes a blazing rocker. With the fiery Aneurysm following through along with intense performances for Drain You and School to maintain the energetic tone of the show. Floyd the Barber features Dave Grohl adding more power to its thundering drum arrangements as keeps the intensity of the show going that is boosted by a performance of Smells Like Teen Spirit.

About a Girl is given a wonderful performance with its bopping rhythm and Cobain’s washy guitar that later becomes more fiery for the solo as it’s one of the standout tracks of the disc. Things soften up a bit for Polly as it would later go back to a more intense performance of Breed. Things get a little poppier for the bouncy Sliver as well as the catchy cover of Shocking Blue’s Love Buzz. Lithium appears to keep things soft and then loud for a blazing performance as it is followed by a thrilling performance of Been a Son and a more raucous performance of Negative Creep. On a Plain maintains a mid-tempo presentation while keeping the intense energy of the show going that leads to the charging Blew. After a brief encore break, a then-new song in Rape Me appears in a slower arrangement that leads to the fast, up-tempo Territorial Pissings as it would follow by the chaotic closer in Endless, Nameless.

Released on September 24, 1991, the album started off slow debuting at 144 in the U.S. album charts until MTV’s alternative rock show 120 Minutes played the music video for Smells Like Teen Spirit where it helped the album gain momentum. The buzz the band had received during their European tour with Sonic Youth as well as the exposure of the Smells Like Teen Spirit video would reach a wider audience. On January 11, 1992, the album did the impossible where it knocked Michael Jackson’s Dangerous off the top of the album charts. Overnight, radio and MTV changed their programming from the 80s hair metal music scene to the burgeoning alternative rock movement as the album became a major hit in 1992. The album would eventually sell 30 million worldwide with more than 10 million alone in the U.S. Though the album was big success, it would eventually prove to be overwhelming for singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain.

Nevermind is a remarkable and exciting album from Nirvana which is truly one of the greatest albums in the history of rock n’ roll. It’s a record that gave rock music a good kick-in-the-ass at a time when it needed it as it remains very timeless 20 years after it came out. Anyone who had never heard of Nirvana will find this record as a great place to start while the super-deluxe reissue will give fans something to enjoy despite the overwhelming price tag. It’s also a record that is a great balance between pop and rock with a bit of an edge that is truly lacking in today’s idea of pop and rock music. In the end, Nevermind is a sensational yet exhilarating masterpiece from Nirvana.

Nirvana Reviews: Studio Albums: Bleach - (In Utero)

Compilations: (Insecticide) - (Nirvana) - (With the Lights Out) - (Sliver: The Best of the Box)

Live Albums: (MTV Unplugged in New York) - (From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah)

DVDs: (Live! Tonight! Sold Out!) - (Live at Reading) - (Live at the Paramount Theater)

© thevoid99 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

1991-20: 1991-Indie Pt. 3: U2 & REM Reinvent Themselves

Part 3: The Era of Reinvention

With a new barrage of music trends and subgenres forming in the wake of alternative rock’s rise, two bands that helped lead the alternative rock revolution of the 1980s were in the process of reinventing themselves for the new decade. With a lot of 80s acts finding a hard time trying to be relevant in the new decade, U2 and R.E.M. would use the new decade to start all over again. Even if both bands to drastically change their sound to stand out amidst the new wave of alternative and indie music that was happening.

Since the release of their 1983 debut Murmur, R.E.M. were this little quartet from Athens, Georgia in the U.S. that were mostly known as a jangle-pop group with a bit of a post-punk edge to their sound. By the time they released their fifth Document in 1987, the band scored their first top ten hit with the song The One I Love that shocked many in the music industry. After the album’s release and tour, the band signed to Warner Brothers Records after their contract with I.R.S. Records expired. 1988’s Green was the band’s major label debut as it was another hit proving the band wasn’t going to change it sound entirely. It was in that record that the band were also showing interest in a more laid-back folk sound.

After the tour and a break, the band returned to the studio in the fall of 1990 with producer Scott Litt to create their seventh album Out of Time. Driven by a more stripped-down sound, lush productions, and guitarist Peter Buck playing the mandolin more in the songs for the record. The album also had singer Michael Stipe sing more direct lyrics as the resulting album would be their biggest hit to date. Led by the single Losing My Religion and its exotic video directed by Tarsem Singh, the song became the band’s biggest hit to date peaking at #4 in the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts. Out of Time was on March 8, 1991 to lots of acclaim as it became their biggest hit of their career selling 16 million copies worldwide.

While the band only did a handful of performances to promote the album, they opted not to tour as the band wanted a break from touring. Despite its popularity, the album was considered by some R.E.M. fans as one of their least favorites. Partly due to the song Shiny Happy People which was a top-ten hit in the U.S. charts as the song became one of fans’ least-favorite songs while the band also disliked the song as well. While R.E.M. was amazed by the success of Out of Time, the record was really a precursor to the album that many say would be their masterpiece with 1992’s Automatic for the People.

While R.E.M. had achieved their biggest success with their own reinvention, their fellow 80s counterparts U2 was on the verge of changing themselves for the new decade. The 1980s were a big decade for U2 thanks as they started out as anthemic post-punk rockers from Dublin, Ireland that scored a major hit with 1983’s War to becoming the biggest band of the 1980s with 1987’s The Joshua Tree. Just as the band was becoming huge, the band faced a backlash following the release of 1988’s Rattle & Hum documentary and album. Some felt their exploration with American music was misguided with others feeling that the band was taking themselves way too seriously. Following the 1989 Lovetown tour with B.B. King as the opening act, the band’s show in Dublin on December 30, 1989 had singer Bono stating that it was time for the band to go away for a while.

After the tour officially ended in early January, the band took a break before traveling to East Berlin before the re-unification of Germany to record the new album. With longtime collaborators Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois serving as producers, the band was ready to record a new album but it wasn’t easy as many thought it would be. While the band recorded a cover of Cole Porter’s Night and Day for a compilation album in the middle of 1990, the track hinted an electronic-driven sound that the band was exploring at the time. Bono’s interest in Madchester along with guitarist the Edge’s interest in other forms of electronic music including industrial caused tension within the band.

Thinking that recording the album at the famed Hansa studio where David Bowie made his legendary trilogy of albums with Brian Eno in the late 70s would inspire new ideas. Instead, the studio was not in great shape while the difficulty to create a new musical style only heightened tensions as bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. weren’t sure what to do as Bono and the Edge were writing with each other rather that involving Clayton and Mullen. With morale at an all-time low, the band contemplated breaking up until the Berlin sessions ended in January.

With the song One being the inspirational point for the band to continue during the Berlin sessions, the band moved back to Dublin to resume recording in February of 1991 where everyone was relaxed. With Clayton and Mullen finding inspiration, the whole band and production team were on the same page as the finally finished the album in the fall of 1991. Finally released on November 19, 1991, Achtung Baby was a smash both critically and commercially as the band unveiled a darker yet rhythmic sound that proved they were still cool in the 1990s. While some of their fans were alienated by the new sound, Achtung Baby was considered to be one of U2’s crowning achievements as they followed the album with the lavish Zoo TV tour.

While both U2 and R.E.M. successfully reinvented themselves for the new decade, it allowed other 80s acts to take a chance on a new sound for the 1990s. While the synth-pop band Depeche Mode did a successful reinvention with 1993’s Songs of Faith & Devotion, others such as INXS and the hard rock band Def Leppard struggled to win their fans over with a new sound. Still, the moves that R.E.M. and U2 made from the 1980s to the 1990s proved that reinvention is the key to survive whenever a new music scene is happening. It also proved to be inspirational as the two alt-rock heavyweights got a chance to see the changes happening in the music world while still being part of what was cool at the time.

1991-20: 1991 in Music: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3

1991 Indie: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 4 - Pt. 5 - Pt. 6

The 50 Best Albums of 1991: 50-26 - 25-11 - 10-2 - Favorite Albums #1

© thevoid99 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nirvana-Bleach (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

Formed in 1987 in Aberdeen, Washington, Nirvana would become one of the key acts to help put alternative music into the mainstream as well as its most popular. Though they didn’t set out to make alternative music mainstream, the band that would also popularize grunge were merely just a little band that wanted to offer something different. Founded by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic, the band would go through a series of drummers including the Melvin’s Dale Crover as Chad Channing was eventually selected in 1988. Signing to the Seattle-based indie label Sub Pop, the band went to the studio with local producer Jack Endino while future Soundgarden bassist Jason Everman provided the money to help make the album that would eventually become Bleach.

Produced by Jack Endino, Bleach is an album where Nirvana is presented as a loud, abrasive band that had elements of punk and metal but also with a bit of pop flair. With many of the songs written by Kurt Cobain including a cover of Shocking Blue’s Love Buzz, the album reveals a band that was just starting out as it features lyrics that reflect various themes of alienation, angst, and heartbreak. Made for only $606.17 based on thirty hours of recording, the result would be one of the most beloved debut albums ever made for one of rock’s greatest bands.

Opening the album is Blew with Krist Novoselic’s low yet wobbly bass that is followed by Kurt Cobain’s sludge-driven guitar and Chad Channing’s upbeat yet pummeling drum fills. Cobain sings in murky vocal for the song’s verse while going into an anguished rasp for its chorus as it’s lyrics are filled with angst as Cobain later plays a wailing guitar solo in the middle of the song. Floyd the Barber is an upbeat yet heavy song with Dale Crover’s pounding drums, Novoselic’s muddy bass, and Cobain’s driving guitar as he sings about a barber he knew. The song is definitely one of the band’s most powerful and unflinching in its performance and in Endino’s raw yet direct production. About a Girl is a mid-tempo song about a relationship that goes wrong with its steady yet bopping rhythm and washy guitar as Cobain sings in his raspy vocal. The song is probably one of the band’s most accessible as it’s best described as grunge meets the Beatles.

School is a wild yet menacing upbeat track noisy guitar drives, Channing’s smooth but pummeling beats, and Novoselic’s heavy bass as Cobain sings about all of the horror of high school with his raspy but angst-driven vocals. A cover of Shocking Blue’s Love Buzz opens with Novoselic’s melodic bass wobble and Channing’s bopping yet upbeat drum fills that is later followed by Cobain’s flourishing guitar wails. Cobain’s hollow yet playful vocals sings to the song’s strange yet quirky lyrics. Paper Cuts is a heavy mid-tempo track with Crover’s punishing beats and crunching guitar riffs as Cobain sings harrowing lyrics of anguish and longing as it features Cobain’s high-pitch wailing vocals in some parts of the song.

Negative Creep is a fast-paced yet intense song with driving, metal-inspired lyrics and a powerful, frenetic rhythm that goes into overdrive as Cobain sings angry lyrics about growing up with more biting lyrics for its chorus. Scoff opens with Channing’s power-pounding drum fills and sludge-driven guitar riffs as Cobain sings in his snarling vocals to some very angry yet ambiguous lyrics. The song features an amazing drive to the performance that is complemented by Endino’s soaring production. Swap Meet is a fast-paced but mid-tempo track that is led by a steady rhythm and Cobain’s droning yet driving guitar riffs as he sings about a group he people knew and the intense love they have to each other. The song’s blazing performance includes some swooning yet heavy bass work from Novoselic that complements Channing’s lively drum performance.

Mr. Mustache is a fast-paced rocker with Channing’s pounding drums, Novoselic’s driving bass, and wailing guitar riffs from Cobain as it’s a song that just goes into a frenetic performance without going into the world of metal. The song’s lyrics features some very terse words about the world of machoism as Cobain sings in a raspy snarl through his vocals. Sifting starts off as this slow, mid-tempo track with crunching riffs and pounding beats as Cobain sings lyrics filled with elements of loneliness and rejection as its chorus picks up the pace a bit for the song.

The next two tracks come from a 1992 reissue of the album that was added at the time when Nirvana was popular that year. The first is Big Cheese that starts off as a slow, mid-tempo rocker with driving guitars and steady drum fills as Cobain sings in a raspy vocals about the downside of working that is filled with dark humor as its chorus takes the song to a more upbeat pace. The album closer is the fast-paced Downer with Dale Crover’s frenetic drum fills, speedy bass lines, and driving guitars as Cobain sings in a fast-paced vocal to a myriad of lyrics describing all sorts of things as things slow down a bit for its chorus. The song is an amazing rocker as it display Nirvana’s prowess in their performance providing a fitting close to the album.

The 2009 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of the album features the original album, plus the 1992 bonus tracks, remastered in its entirety by George Mariano. The remastered album maintains the raw sound of Jack Endino’s production as well as capturing the fiery performance of the band just as it sounded for those who had bought the album during Nirvana’s hey-day in the early 1990s. The second disc of the deluxe edition of the album includes a live performance by the band at the Pine Street Theater in Portland, Oregon on February 9, 1990.

The second disc opens with a noisy intro of a squealing guitar as it leads to the raucous drive of School that is just as powerful as its recorded version. Floyd the Barber and Dive follow where the former is very intense in its performance while the latter is more blazing due to Kurt Cobain’s firery guitar. Love Buzz is played in a much faster, more upbeat performance as is the rarity Spank Thru which is also much heavier. A cover of the Vaselines’ Molly’s Lips follows through with a mid-tempo drive to the performance as it adds to Cobain’s devotion to the band. Another rarity in Sappy is presented in a different drum arrangement from the final recorded version made years later as it’s still a powerful yet blazing rock song with its noisy guitars.

Scoff is presented in its upbeat yet hammering presentation through Chad Channing’s pummeling beats, Krist Novoselic’s bass, and Cobain’s fiery guitar and raspy vocals. About a Girl is played at a slightly, faster tempo for its song while maintaining its pop-driven form as it includes the wailing solo Cobain plays in the middle of the song. Been a Son, another rarity, is a mid-tempo track that is driven by its steady yet heavy rhythm and Cobain’s driving guitars that displays the band’s power in playing something simple than go wild. The closing track of the second disc is Blew as it is presented in an intense but lively performance with wailing guitars and pummeling rhythms as it helps close the second disc.

Released on June 15, 1989, the album was an underground hit as it would sell around 40,000 copies just before Nirvana would become a very popular band in 1992. Yet, the record received some excellent reviews as the band got some attention in Britain during a tour with the Seattle band Tad. When the album was re-released in 1992 with two extra tracks, it became a bigger hit due to Nirvana’s sudden popularity as it would sell at around 4 million copies worldwide making it the biggest selling album for the Sub Pop label.

Bleach is a remarkable yet raucous debut album from Nirvana. Carried by the band’s visceral yet energetic performance and Jack Endino’s sparse but electrifying production. It’s a debut record that still manages to hold up more than 20 years since its release while it’s also a record that is inspiring on what bands could do with a small budget of $600. While it may not have the polished sheen of Nevermind or the more chaotic sound of In Utero, Bleach does stand out for its raw presentation while proving that this band was just getting started. In the end, Bleach is a superb yet blistering debut album from Nirvana.

Nirvana Reviews: Studio Albums: Nevermind - (In Utero)

Compilations: (Insecticide) - (Nirvana) - (With the Lights Out) - (Sliver: The Best of the Box)

Live Albums: (MTV Unplugged in New York) - (From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah)

DVDs: (Live! Tonight! Sold Out!) - (Live at Reading) - (Live at the Paramount Theater)

© thevoid99 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

1991-20: 1991-Indie Pt. 2: The Year in British Indie

Part 2: The Fall of Madchester & the Rise of Shoegaze/British Indie

1990 was a big year for British indie music thanks in part to the Madchester music scene that consisted of bands like the Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, the Charlatans, and James. Yet, it also gave rise to bands like Jesus Jones and EMF the chance to succeed with the Madchester sound that brought a lot of scorn from music critics at the time. By 1991, the music scene was starting to get undone not just by the Stone Roses’ inactivity but also the Happy Mondays’ drug abuse that was becoming more out of control. While the Charlatans and Inspiral Carpets were still around with the latter releasing another album. The music scene in Manchester was starting to feel tired while the city itself was losing its luster.

Manchester, the place that gave birth to bands like the Buzzcocks, Joy Division/New Order, and the Smiths along with Factory Records was suddenly finding itself lost and overwhelmed. Tony Wilson, who co-founded the label, was dealing with the loss of money in the Hacienda nightclub and crime troubles. At the same time, New Order was becoming inactive due to various side projects from members of the band. The death of producer Martin Hannett, the man who produced albums for Joy Division and the Happy Mondays’ 1988 album Bummed, along with the Durutti Column’s Dave Rowbowthan’s murder saddened Wilson as Factory Records was heading into more financial trouble leading to its bankruptcy in 1992.

The decline of the Manchester music scene was becoming very evident in the U.K. though another band from Manchester was starting to form in Oasis. Though it would be three years before Oasis would release its first album, the band was influenced by their surroundings as well as other music around Britain that would eventually create an entire new scene. Meanwhile, a band from London called Blur just released their debut album Leisure in August to a small degree of success. Though the band had a sound that featured elements of Madchester, they were going to become one of the new bands along with Oasis to create the next big wave of British indie called Britpop.

The seeds of Britpop were being sewn with not just Oasis’ formation and Blur’s debut album in 1991. It was also the time when bands like Suede were starting to form as their early line-up included future Elastica vocalist/guitarist Justine Frischmann. While Britpop was starting to go into development due to the inactivity of the Stone Roses, the decline of Madchester, and the rise of shoegaze. It would be the emergence of American grunge and the dominance of pop music on the British charts that would give these new bands a chance to step up and rebel.

With Britpop starting to go into development, one notable indie band that broke big in Britain was Primal Scream. Before the release of their 1991 masterpiece Screamadelica, Primal Scream was just an indie band, with a love for American blues-rock, that struggled to get attention. It was until they met DJ Andrew Weatherall who remixed one of their songs and added samples that became the song Loaded which would be the basis for their third album. With Weatherall, the Orb, Hugh Nicolson, the indie band Hypnotone, and legendary Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller all producing the record, the result would be the band’s breakthrough.

Filled with a diverse sound of American blues-rock, acid house music, and ambient pieces, Screamdelica was the culmination of everything that was happening in popular music. It also helped push for a new wave of British indie music to emerge as many were tired of the music that was dominating the British charts as well as Madchester. The album also helped establish Primal Scream as one of the leading bands of the British indie music scene for the years to come as they later celebrated their breakthrough album in 2011 by performing the record in its entirety for a tour of Britain.

While a lot was happening for the British music scene with the fall of one music scene and the groundwork of another in the works. Another music scene in Britain that was emerging from the late 1980s and into 1990 was the shoegaze genre. 1990 saw the arrival of new bands like Ride and Lush as they released their debut albums that provided the ideas of what shoegaze is. While the music, filled with dreamy guitar textures along with wave of noises and esoteric lyrics, wasn’t for everyone as some felt the performances were un-engaging. It did create something new that was happening in the British indie music scene.

While some believed that the shoegaze bands were part of a collective that some coined as the Scene that Celebrated Itself due to the fact that all of these bands from London were seen together. Among those bands from that collective was Chapterhouse as their 1991 debut Whirlpool was considered to be one of the key albums of the shoegaze genre. Yet, not everyone liked the genre who found these bands to be extremely self-indulgent in their musical approach as another important record of the genre came out in Slowdive’s debut Just for a Day. The record was dismissed at the time when the backlash for the genre was emerging but it would be another record that would be considered to be the genre’s defining moment.

Two years in the making, Loveless from My Bloody Valentine finally came out in November 4, 1991. The release shocked critics over its layering of noise and dreamy guitar textures within the context of pop music. While the preceding EPs for 1990’s Glider and Tremolo, which was released in February of 1991, hinted what the band was doing. It did create some excitement among artists such as Brian Eno over what was going to happen. Yet, My Bloody Valentine’s leader Kevin Shield’s perfectionist persona created trouble with the band’s label Creation Records. When the album finally came out, its final budget of 250,000 pounds shocked Creation Records head Alan McGee who chose to part ways with the band believing that the album had nearly bankrupted his label

Loveless came out to an enthusiastic response from critics as it was later cited as one of the best albums of the 1990s and to some, one of the best albums ever made. Despite the acclaim My Bloody Valentine attained for Loveless, record sales weren’t so great though the album charted at 24 in the U.K. charts. The band went on tour to promote the album throughout 1992 as they were signed to Island Records but the band never capitalized on their deal as they became inactive for many years until they reunited for some shows in 2007 as they toured worldwide for two years.

Though Loveless represented a peak of the shoegaze genre, it was also the beginning of the end as bands struggled to gain attention in the wake of American grunge rock along with the emergence of Britpop. Yet, the legacy that Loveless left in the wake of its release proved to be more powerful as bands like Radiohead, the Smashing Pumpkins, and Nine Inch Nails cited its influence.

The year for British indie music ended with not just a few scenes going on its way out but also the seeds of a new scene to emerge. While mainstream pop music and the arrival of American grunge rock would overshadow everything that was happening in Britain. The new bands that were starting to form would bide their time for a new revolution in British music that would dominate the music scene in the years to come.

1991-20: 1991 in Music: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3

1991 Indie: Pt. 1 - Pt. 3 - Pt. 4 - Pt. 5 - Pt. 6

The 50 Best Albums of 1991: 50-26 - 25-11 - 10-2 - Favorite Albums #1

© thevoid99 2011