November 28, 2009
Welcome to another edition of Brook Pridemore’s The Nineties-ist. This edition discusses 1994, Courtney Love’s response to the death of Kurt Cobain (and how Rivers Cuomo plays into all this) and Pearl Jam, Korn, and the steep descent of metal. For earlier installments, go here.
One of the funniest conspiracy theories I’ve heard about in the last few years is that Kurt Cobain and Rivers Cuomo are the same person. Right: Kurt Cobain was so affected by the spotlight that he faked his own death, only to return a few months later with a new, poppier sound and a slightly altered look. Even his wife, Courtney Love, believes his death was real. Yeah.
When you think about it, the number of flimsy similarities between the two men are astounding. Nirvana and Weezer were both signed to the David Geffen Company (their recording careers only overlap by the slimmest margin). Both men were the sole songwriters in their respective bands, though Cuomo has deferred to the other guys in recent years, and Dave Grohl got to write one of the B-Sides for In Utero. Cuomo and Cobain are both often seen wearing sweaters in photographs; Cuomo’s dapper and preppy, Cobain’s most likely intended to cover up track marks. Both debuted with music most people did not hear (Weezer’s earliest recordings are still-unreleased pop metal tracks), followed by a slicker-than-owl-shit major label debut, then followed by an intensely personal, self-produced sophomore effort. In Utero is infinitely better than Nevermind, and Pinkerton is infinitely better than The Blue Album. Weezer, after Pinkerton, have slowly pissed away everything that was great about them, while Cobain didn’t last long enough to watch his career go to shit.
Of course, Cobain was a left-handed guitarist, while Cuomo is right-handed, but have you ever noticed that Cuomo became something of a fret-shredder between the first two albums?
More on #11: 1994
November 7, 2009
Well aware that my railing against the big bucks corporate music system might be veering dangerously close to the realm of beating a dead horse, I thought I’d take a week off from clue hunting and celebrate several of the happy accidents that Kurt Cobain and Co. championed once every press mic in the world was in their faces. So, here it is:
TOP FIVE RECORDS YOU PROBABLY WOULDN’T HAVE HEARD WERE IT NOT FOR NEVERMIND
1. The Raincoats | S/T
Sharing drummer Palmolive with The Slits , The Raincoats, were a noisy mess of fun, frantic, Celtic-inflected punk rock that fervently embraced feminism and Do-It-Yourself charm. The Ramones may have been the first band to say, “We can be in a band even if we can’t play like virtuosos,” but the Ramones (who could keep a beat) sound downright virtuosic themselves next to the always slightly tipsy-sounding Raincoats. Check out their gender-bending cover of the Kinks’ “Lola:” Ana De Silva, Gina Burch and Co. keep pronouns the same in their version, which raises a plethora of gender-identity queries. Plus, it’s a sick dance number, too. In the liner notes to his band’s collection of B-Sides and rarities, Incesticide, Cobain asserted that meeting de Silva in UK was the best thing that had happened to him since Nirvana took off.
2. Mazzy Star | So Tonight That I Might See
Partially because of Cobain’s kind words about Hope Sandoval and David Roback, but also because Mazzy Star’s best album dropped in a year when even a somnambulant country song like “Fade Into You” could be a hit, So Tonight That I Might See is the perfect example of the positive effects “alternative” rock had on public consciousness in the early 90s. Here was an elegant, three chord ballad, sandwiched in between the latest Dr. Dre and Aerosmith videos, and nobody seemed to notice. “Fade Into You” turned out to be the band’s only real hit, but the song still pops up from time to time in movies and TV, when the right tender moment is called for. The rest of the album is equally elegant, simple and gorgeous, as well.
More on #8: 1991
June 19, 2009
For every budding mid-nineties guitarist learning the riff to “Plump” off of Hole’s Live Through This, there’s finally some news in this world to get excited about: Courtney Love is planning to reunite Hole and release an album that she has been working on for five years.
Well, it’s dubious that the new album will ever be released. I mean, in 1997 I went to a Marilyn Manson concert and Hole was supposed to open. Did Hole actually show up? No. Did Courtney Love stumble around in a nightie with creepy dolls singing “Violet”? No. Will Love show up for herself in 2009? Hmmm. And who cares now that Eric Erlandson isn’t being asked back to join Hole? The last bit of news I could find on Erlandson was that he had joined a “band” with sociopath Vincent Gallo.
Instead, Erlandson will be replaced by Micko Larkin, and original bassist Melissa Auf der Maur will clean off her Thunderbird bass and head back to camp Hole. Hole’s new album, entitled Nobody’s Daughter, features songs like, “Letter to God,” “Skinny Little Bitch,” and “Never Go Hungry Again.” A number of these songs were originally Love solo tracks, but will now officially become Hole songs, much to the dismay of fans who say that Love has jumped on the 90s-band-reunion bandwagon (think, Smashing Pumpkins, Jane’s Addiction, Meat Puppets, etc.).
I will light a candle in my Courtney shrine and say a silent prayer to a riot girl.
by Thomas Wilk