Wednesday, 21 September 2011

10 Great Grunge Songs

We all know what Grunge music is, what it sounds like and i'm pretty sure we all remember those few years when it ruled the world. There is no need for me to define the term or the genre, I think the songs below will do that just fine. As most of you i'm sure are aware this week is the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's Nevermind. The most recognizable grunge album ever made and perhaps one of the most important records in history. Here then are 10 great grunge songs...

1. L7 - "Pretend We're Dead"

Grunge was a very equal opportunity genre. Many women within it's walls were just as recognizable as the men. Courtney Love, The Breeders, Veruca Salt and L7. L7 came from Los Angeles, not the grunge haven that Seattle was, but a glam rock wasteland in the early 90's. One moment of infamy for the group came when lead singer Donita Sparks threw her used tampon at an unruly crowd in England, shouting "Eat my bloody tampon fuckers!!" Yup.

2. Nirvana - "Scentless Apprentice"

Though Nevermind was the breakthrough and i'm sure it will remain as the juggernaut it's known as for years to come, In Utero was the album I preferred more. "Scentless Apprentice" is just a wild and wicked track featuring all their staples: Cobain's slurred vocals, shredding guitar and a rhythm like a car wreck. The lyrics are based on the novel Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer.

3. Sonic Youth - "100%"

Sonic Youth were already veterans by the time the 90's rolled around and kinda got lumped into the grunge genre whether they wanted to or not. "100%" is just a well crafted song and really exemplifies why they had the staying power they did.

4. Soundgarden - "Blow Up The Outside World"

Soundgarden came out of the Seattle grunge scene and catapulted to the spotlight when their album Badmotorfinger was released in 1991. This song wasn't released util 1996 however, it really encapsulated the true down-trodden grunge spirit and the attitude of the group at the time. They'd break up soon after. Chris Cornell would go on to multiple projects including Audioslave and eventually reforming Soundgarden in 2010.

5. The Pixies - "Monkey Gone To Heaven"

The big inside joke within the musical scene is that Nirvana got popular by ripping off The Pixies. Personally I don't see it, but I do think it's a shame The Pixies weren't as big as they should've been, but maybe thats how they liked it.

6. Liz Phair - "Supernova"

Now it's a real shame that Liz Phair didn't achieve the mega-stardom she deserved. Some people probably wouldn't consider her grunge, but this song especially has got that effortless vocal drawl and real slow/quick chug to it that made 90's grunge so infectious.  Plus she's super sexy.

7. The Screaming Trees - "Nearly Lost You"

It was a race to the finish to see which grunge band would achieve fame and infamy first, and Nirvana won. The Screaming Trees were right there though and are still rightfully referenced as one of the Godfathers Of Grunge. Other acts in the race were Mudhoney, The Melvins and the aforementioned Soundgarden.

8. Rusty - "Misogyny"

This one was included on my Top 100 Canadian Songs list. fuckin rocks!! Canada threw it's hat in the ring of grunge in the 90's aswell. Bands like Limblifter, Pluto and Rusty are nowadays probably referred to as the simplified "alternative" but back in 93 we Canucks knew what was up.

9.  Hole - "Jennifer's Body"

Say what you will about Courtney Love, she made some great music with Hole in the 90's. Relentless, unapologetic and at times down right dirty grunge. So what if she had some assistance with writing the songs, I keep learning about more and more holes in Kurt Cobain's genius.

10. Alice In Chains - "Would?"

Finally another one of the sheer mega powers of grunge. Alice In Chains were part of the scene, but still seemed to exist in their own stratosphere. The song "Would?" is actually a tribute to another grunge act's fallen front man Mother Love Bone's Andrew Wood who died after a drug overdose in 1990. Members of MLB would later form Pearl Jam. Alice in Chain's own singer Layne Staley would inspire the Pearl Jam song "4/20/02" when he died of an overdose in April 2002.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

10 Songs With Great Music Videos

There was a time when a song and a video went hand in hand. Bands put serious creative energy into capturing their music in the visual form. The 80's and 90's were the golden years for this, given that MTV and Much Music still primarily featured videos, today however the main video outlet is the internet. Even today many artists use the video as a creative medium, however, I feel some are trying too hard. Anyway, more about that later. Here are 10 great songs with 10 great videos.

1.  "Toes Across The Floor" - Blind Melon

Fuck anyone who thinks Blind Melon were a one-hit wonder. With "No Rain" they were just getting warm. "Toes Across The Floor" is a mind blowing song that features a simple yet awesome video. The band is featured performing, but also look for them colliding with the video's hero about half way through.

2. "Human Behavior" - Bjork

Iceland's Bjork has had many wonderful videos. "Human Behavior" always gave me this creepy vibe. Something about a muppet bear stalking a human on a tiny paper mache planet. Something...

3. "Wraith Pinned To The Mist" - Of Montreal

Yeah, I know that title should be longer, but I can't be arsed to look up it's entire name right now. With today's modern advances i'm sure it's much easier to do an animated video in this day and age, but it's all about execution. This video's happy/psychotic theme fits the song perfectly.

4. "Sabotage" - Beastie Boys

One of Spike Jonze's first videos...he'd go on to do works for Fatboy Slim, Weezer and even directed Three Kings. This is why people get into bands and make videos, to do cool shit like this! Yeah it looks low-budget, but thats the point. Sadly lightning has not struck twice for the Boys, subsequent videos were kinda "Meh".

5. "Freak On A Leash" - Korn

You knew I had to include this one. To this day this video is still being imitated. Just goes to show it's impact after point of entry.

6. "Here It Goes Again" - Ok Go!

Simple, affordable, absolutely sublime. This video took Youtube by storm and made everyone want to try their hand at the viral world. I think it's the coreography that makes this video. Again, OK Go have since tried to continuously up stage themselves with bigger and more elaborate videos. Trying way too hard in my opinion. Their latest attempt was a re-hash of the Muppet Show theme song...which ended up an unbearable, pretentious and often confusing mess. A well, back to the good ol' days.

7. "Existentialism On Prom Night" - Straylight Run

Again, nothing too fancy here. Just a cool concept and a fantastic song. Short, sweet, knew it complete.

8. "Do The Evolution" - Pearl Jam

When I first saw this video, before I even heard Yield, I thought it was KMFDM. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be Pearl Jam, one of my favourite bands!! But wait a minute...Pearl Jam got sick of making videos after 1992's "Jeremy" and stopped! Well, they don't actually appear in this video as it was fully animated by Spawn creator Todd McFarlane...thanks for playing!

9. "Smooth Criminal" - Michael Jackson

This was the coolest shit video of all time when I was a little guy. So many sweet dance/fight moves, the song was stellar and that tilt at the end was a mind blow. I miss Michael Jackson's true song writing talent. And this cat can dance!

10. "Rabbit In Your Headlights" - Unkle

The best video ever made, to this day. You will watch the whole thing.