Tuesday, September 27, 2011

20 Years of 1991

Most Gen X alt-rock purists, if we were still as young and anti-establishment as some of us were in 1991, would now call 1991 the year that alt-rock sold out, our personal favorite bands became too mainstream, and our peers across the country and world were simply jumping on the cool bandwagon that we established with our Sub Pop Singles Club memberships, flannel shirts, goatees, piercings, and penchant for dark sounding yet often times lyrically uplifting music. Most Gen X alt-rock purists, all grown up and approaching or already into middle age, now call 1991 the year that we forever left our musical mark on the landscape and ushered in the last “new rock/cultural revolution” that we will, as a species, most likely ever see. It is just too improbable that one musical movement, or one cultural mindset (one set on change and individuality) will ever spread and change the collective unconscious as the music and events of 1991 did. Now, with the incredibly splintering power of the internet, a mass cultural movement like the one inspired by the music and Cultural Revolution of 1991 is highly unlikely. It really doesn’t seem possible that a meme based on a specific musical style and the look inspired by its most culturally recognized region will ever have as much mass appeal and affect as the grunge/alt rock movement did.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pearl Jam 20 (The Book)


Leave it to filmmaker, rock critic, and all around rock fan extraordinaire Cameron Crowe to come up with the description of what it’s like to see Pearl Jam live in concert. A description that I’ve been trying to communicate for years, but just never got quite right:

“A Pearl Jam concert today is about much more than music. It’s about the kind of clear-eyed spirit that comes from believing in people and music and its power to change a shitty day into a great one, or looking at an injustice and feeling less alone about facing it.” 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Red Hot Chili Peppers: I’m With You (but Frusciante isn't)

Anthony Kiedis, Flea, and John Frusciante existed as the holy trinity of their own brand of varyingly spaced out and grittily grounded rock/funk fusion music. Drummer Chad Smith hammered out the articulate chaos that infused it all with form, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers took their listeners on journeys that were invariably spiritual, sexual, and existential, sometimes all at once. Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic (1991), Californication (1999), By The Way (2002), and Stadium Arcadium (2006) are four of the most uplifting, introspective, and simply groovy records ever recorded. Any one of these albums are the types of compositions that hundreds of lesser talented bands would love to have recorded, even if just once. The Chili Peppers did it four (five if you count the double album Stadium Arcadium) times. The immense success of these albums set the guys up for life and seemingly embraced nearly every type of beat, guitar and base chord composition, lyrical twist, and trippy musical journey that could be conceived. Apparently though, even with the departure of their holy spirit, John Frusciante, there is more to be written and said.