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
Mary Travers, Known For Her Work in Classic Folk Group Peter, Paul, and Mary, Passes Away at 72 [Brooklyn Vegan]
Billy Corgan Announces 44-Track Smashing Pumpkins Album Called Teargarden by Kaleidyscope; I Set Fire to a Copy of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness In Attempt to Feel Something [Spin]
Stream Animal Collective’s “Banshee Beat” vs. Beach Boys’ “I’m Waiting for the Day” – If Animal Collective Won That Fight, They Would Still Lose, As They Would Cease To Exist In That Back To The Future Paradox Way [Gorilla vs. Bear]
Kermit the Frog Tells People That He Is Not Dating Lady Gaga; People Fails at Differentiating Between “People” and Fuzzy, Marionette Puppets (Due to Deteriorating Eyesight of Journalism? Eh?!) [Idolator]
Watch Chicago’s Andrew Bird and Brooklyn’s St. Vincent Collaborate in La Blogotheque; Experience Long Performance of Pure, Unadulterated Pleasantness; Feel Kind of Sick Afterward [Pitchfork]
The Clash’s Mick Jones and Topper Headon Rerecord The Clash’s “Jail Guitar Doors” With Billy Bragg and Prison Inmates – Headline Gets Progressively More Awesome Every Word Added [NME]
Grizzly Bear Joins Bon Iver, Thom Yorke, and Death Cab for Cutie on Twilight Sequel New Moon’s Soundtrack; “Cool” Listeners Finally Forced to Admit That The Bands Are Listened to By Shit Tons of People (Note Again: Distinction Between People And Puppets) [Prefix]
compiled by Max Sebela
Courtney Love Tweets At Her Disgust Of Kurt Cobain Appearing In Guitar Hero 5; Threatens To Sue Activision; Claims “Ever did intend on allowing GUITARHERO for me or for Kurt am NOT oko fucking ONO;” Meanwhile, Yoko Ono’s Name Remains “Yoko Ono” [Spin]
Sufjan Stevens To Play All Of Seven Swans, His Most Christian (And Arguably Worst) Album At All Tomorrow’s Parties NY [ATP Twitter]
Brooklyn Snore-Pop Duo Beach House Sign To Sub Pop; Third LP (Still Unnamed) To Be Released Early 2010 [Gorilla vs. Bear]
Smashing Pumpkins Frontman/Sole Original Member Billy Corgan Launches Spirituality Website; Good For Him: Corgan Has Convinced Himself He’s God For About Twenty Years – Now He Has An Outlet To Prove It! [Pitchfork]
Britpop So-So’s The Cribs’ Fourth Album Ignore The Ignorant Outsell The Beatles Reissues – Americans Remain Unclear As To Whether The Cribs, The Hives, and The Bravery Are Different Bands [NME]
Watch New Sunset Rubdown Video For Dragonslayer Cut “Black Swan” – It’s A Third ITunes Visualizer, A Third Grim Fandango, And A Third Swedish Jeans Commercial (Alternatively: 100% Good, Ol’ Fashioned Peyote Induced Fun!) [Pitchfork]
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Off-Shoot Grinderman Announce Follow Up To Their 2007 Self-Titled Debut; To Be Released Early 2010 [NME]
compiled by Max Sebela
TLC To Play First Show In Seven Years In Vegas – Now, It’s Not So Much That I Don’t Want “No Scrubs;” I Just Can’t Fathom Anyone Using The Word “Scrub” (Definition: Guy Who Considers Self “Fly”) In 2009 [Idolator]
Jay Z Announces Plans To Play Massive 9/11 Benefit Show At Madison Square Garden [Spin]
Watch Bill O’Reilly Insult Jay Z On The O’Reilly Factor; Describes Jay As “A Regular Otis Redding” – Funny Enough, Jay Has Fused Rock, Hip-Hop, And Jazz Similarly To Redding’s Rock-Gospel Fusion, Making O’Reilly Sort Of…Right [Idolator]
Popular Lower East Side Venue The Annex Closing Down And Becoming A Sports Bar; This Writer Confused As To When There Became A Demand For Sports Bars On The Lower East Side [Brooklyn Vegan]
Bob Dylan Apparently In Talks To Become The Voice On Navigation Systems – Just What You Need In An Emergency: Dylan Leading You Nowhere Through A Series of Unconnected Allusions To A Jester [NME]
TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimbe To Appear As Vocalist On Trip-Hop Pioneers Massive Attack’s Upcoming EP, Splitting the Atom; Released October 5 [Pitchfork]
compiled by Max Sebela
November 30, 2008
A few weeks ago, biographer Charles R. Cross released his second book on Kurt Cobain. It’s a tangible, artistic approach to a memoir of a suicidal and genius soul. Not what would fall under an official biography, Cobain Unseen tells Cobain’s story as a reflection to the things he collected and the art he made.
Cobain Unseen introduces its audience to what diseased Cobain: several family suicides, poverty, heartbreak, Americana as a whole- but more importantly the creativity it born. Despite the dismal life he lead, Cobain anchored his spirits from an early age by writing in his diary, painting, sketching, and collecting thrift store items. The book tells a black, heart-wrenching tale parallel to old photographs and other physical items. Pages with pockets hold replicated loose-leaf pages of lyrics, a Thanksgiving Day greeting card, makeshift Nirvana stickers, and concert fliers.
Cross discovered Cobain’s treasures while researching Heavier Than Heaven (2001), the first Cobain biography he wrote. Soon after Cobain’s death all of his belongings were put into high-security storage, Courtney Love gave Cross permission to go through it. She told Cross, “If you’re going write about Kurt, you’d better read what he wrote about himself.” At first Cross was only allowed to view, but in 2002 he was granted permission to photograph the guts of the vault; guitars, t-shirts, porcelain doll heads, retro board games, paintings, and heart-shaped boxes.
More on Cobain’s Vault