Archive for the ‘Grunge’ Category

Is it just me, or is there a hankering for everything 90s in the music world? It seems to be a general consensus. Not that I’m surprised, because let’s face it, 90s music really was everything. Grunge, Britpop, true Rap/Hip-Hop, girl/boy bands all saw their rise (and some, even their demise) in the 90s. There has been a lot of music between now and then, so why the resurgence? Could it be a simple case of nostalgia? Or maybe music these days has lost its charm, its wonderment. Maybe 90s bands need to make some of that cash money, and know nothing makes that happen more than a new album + reunion tour. Whatever the reason, it’s happening.

Green Day

One of the original, ultimate 90s bands, who whined their way into our hearts with their album, 1994’s Dookie. The 14-track album was essentially the same song over and over, with the same chords, just in different arrangements. It was full of anthems for the lazy, bored teenager, but somehow struck a chord with so many young people, it sold upwards of 20 million copies. Since then, the band has released a few other albums, the most memorable of which was 2004’s American Idiot (mostly because it was full of political commentary.) So yes, technically they’ve been around in the 2000s, but their sound has never changed. Now they’re up for another release – Revolution Radio due out later this year. Its first single “Bang Bang” proves their 90s sound is about to take over the radio again.

Blink 182

Similar to Green Day, Blink 182 saw their glory days in the 90s, starting with their 1997 hit single “Dammit.” What really made their name, however, was 1999’s Enema of the State, which catapulted them into superstardom selling 15 million copies. They made music videos imitating boy bands, and running through the streets naked; they wrote songs about teen suicide. Mostly, they were a trio of young guys, making money acting silly, because they could. They continued to release music into the early 2000s, their popularity decreasing with each album. In 2016, in spite of an indefinite hiatus in 2005, and subsequent break up, plus a change in the original lineup, Blink released California, and its lead single – totally 90s sounding – “Bored to Death.”

Prophets of Rage

This is a bit of a different take on the 90s comeback, because Prophets of Rage is a newly formed supergroup consisting of members of Rage Against the Machine, Cypress Hill and Public Enemy. They released their debut EP, The Party’s Over this year. A 5-track work of art, consisting of a cover of Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep till Brooklyn,” Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name,” Public Enemy’s “Shut ‘Em Down” and “Prophets of Rage.” Don’t worry though, they also have an original track, “The Party’s Over.” It’s classic 90s rock-rap at its best.

Temple of the Dog

If there was ever a true, quintessential 90s grunge supergroup, Temple of the Dog was it. They got together in 1990, in Seattle of all places, and brought together band members from both Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, including lead singers Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder (before he was the Eddie Vedder.) They released their debut self-titled album in 1991 (also their only album,) which came about as a tribute to a roommate of Cornell’s who had died of a drug overdose. They haven’t released any new material, but during 2016, the band is reuniting to tour in honour of the 25th anniversary of Temple of the Dog. “Hunger Strike” alone is reason enough to go – it is everything 90s.

I came across an article a while ago, stating this year’s supposed summer songs have fallen short, and I couldn’t agree more. The pop world has let us down once again, and given us lame, played out tracks that are so been there done that. How are we supposed to enjoy our summer now? In spite of this, I’ve decided compile a list – I just had to get more creative.

“Handclap” – Fitz and the Tantrums

This track comes off Fitz and the Tantrums’ self-titled third studio album. They blur the line between rock and pop here, giving them more reach. It’s catchy/infectious, involves synchronized claps (it’s even in the title!) It passes the ultimate summer song test too: you definitely want to blast it and sing along with your car windows down (and not be embarrassed about it.)

“Free” – Broods

This track from New Zealand brother-sister duo is not to be missed. It’s grungier than your typical summer dance track, but it’s anthemic and empowering. You just can’t help but hit repeat over and over once it ends, because that good a feeling is so addictive.

“Hasta Que Se Seque El Malecón” – Jacob Forever

No summer song list is complete without a little Latin flare. It’s your standard reggaeton track, and I mean that in the best way possible. Your hips  want to sway, you want to dance, and even if you can’t exactly sing along or understand the lyrics, it doesn’t matter. You hear this, and all you see is partying somewhere warm, beachy, drinks flowing; it’s irresistible.

“Wow” – Beck

Okay, so I have no idea where/how Beck came up with this track. He’s known to be rock/indie, and although his music has always been a little offbeat and eccentric, I’ve never heard anything like this from him” it’s borderline hip-hop. The music is perfectly produced and executed, and just keeps building and building – it’s a dope track even without lyrics. I never thought Beck would be on a summer jam list, but that just shows how talented he really is (right, Kanye?)

“The River” – Bishop Briggs

Briggs is a British musician who has taken the indie scene by storm with this track. Musically, you hear a bunch of different sounds coming together, and it’s impossible to ignore the hook. Vocally, she hits all kinds of ranges showing her versatility as well as how strongly she’s feeling the music. All you want to do is enjoy the crap out of this song.

2015 was a pretty good year for music, even better for Canadian music, with Justin Bieber, Drake and The Weeknd dominating everything. As per usual, these highlights (and lowlights) are just my opinion, and have no bearing on commercial success. I also must disclaim that I haven’t listened to every single album/track that was released this year.

Best New Artist – Jamie xx

Okay so this is a bit of a cheat, mostly because Jamie xx isn’t exactly new. He’s resident DJ for incomparable indie band The xx. His beats are infectious and not your standard EDM style. This year, he decided to branch out on his own with his debut album, In Colour. And it blew everyone’s mind.

 

Worst New Artist – Shawn Mendes

I’m generally not one to pop open the haterade on young Canadian artists, but man this guy’s annoying. He’s so average, yet each one of his singles appears all over the radio. I will props him on writing (most of) his own stuff, but it’s just not that good – he’s not doing anything that hasn’t been done before.

 

Best Canadian Album – The Gates by Young Empires

Okay before you all hyperventilate because Drake or The Weeknd didn’t win this, it’s because my goal is to expose you all to new music. This list would be boring if it was predictable, so this is me changing it up. This is a solid album start to finish. It’s musical, thoughtful and shows an evolution in their sound.

 

Best Soundtrack – Empire

Empire is a one of a kind TV show. Entertainment mogul Lucious Lyon and his sons taking over the music industry, whilst dealing with their family drama that goes layers deep may not sound appealing, but it is. Even if the show doesn’t interest you, the music alone is worth tuning in. The talent on this show is commendable, seeing as they all (apparently) sing their own stuff, plus it’s loaded with guest stars galore. It’s just so addictive.

 

Best Remix – “The Hills” by The Weeknd feat. Eminem

Whether you’re a fan or not, you can’t deny The Weeknd’s musical abilities. His flawless voice, its velvety smoothness is purely eargasmic. As if this track wasn’t fantastic enough,  when you add Eminem’s rhymes on it, there’s just no contest.

 

Worst Remix – “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar

It’s high time we all get over Taylor Swift. She’s becoming a little too high maintenance, what with wanting to trademark everything she touches and taking her music off streaming services because she wasn’t making enough money. So imagine my surprise, when Kendrick Lamar joined her on this petty track. I mean, come on: his album is called To Pimp a Butterfly, and he’s from  Compton! This collab is adding zero value to his street cred and makes no sense at all.

 

RIP – Scott Weiland

This was a pretty personal one for me. I spent a lot of my teenage years cozying up to Stone Temple Pilots. “Plush” is one of my all-time favourite tracks, and one of the first I learned on guitar. He also fronted supergroup Velvet Revolver. He had such a unique voice, such a presence, but also such a big drug problem. The 90s wouldn’t have been the same without him.

 

Artist who Broke the Internet – Adele

When she released “Hello”, everyone fell apart. Millions and millions of views on YouTube. TV appearances, announcing a tour, shattering so many sales records, and continuing to do so. She may not be your style, but how can you not belt along to her lyrics? It’s so therapeutic.

 

Artist You Want to Befriend – Alessia Cara

A cool 19-year-old  singer-songwriter from Brampton, ON, who got signed to Def Jam Recordings. Her big hit “Here” tells the tale of the not-so-cool high school girl who ends up at typical teen party because her friends wanted to go. It’s smart, it’s honest, it’s funny and I seriously want to hang with her.

 

Best Choreography in a Video – “Hotline Bling” by Drake

This was a no-brainer.

 

 

Best Live Show – Foo Fighters at Fenway Park

I’ll extend this out to the entire leg of their tour where Grohl had to perform while sitting on a chair/throne because he broke his leg. In spite of that, the level of performance they gave was monstrous. He didn’t get tired for one second during the near 3 hour set. No complaints, no holding back. They played the crap out of their music and it was just such a joy to be a part of it.

 

Most Disappointing Album – A Head Full of Dreams by Coldplay

It’s no secret I’ve had a volatile love/hate relationship with these guys. Their last album Ghost Stories saw them maybe turning a corner, but they’re lost for good now. It’s basically a dance/pop album which is incapable of tugging at any heartstrings – something they used to master.  Basically, Coldplay is trying to latch on to the latest EDM trend, to make their music more mainstream. They also have dancing monkeys in their video; it’s just sad now, really.

 

Guiltiest Pleasure – “Sorry” by Justin Bieber

I know, I can’t believe I’m admitting it. It’s just so darn catchy.

 

Most Underrated Artist – Lianne La Havas

Lianne dropped her second album Blood this year, and it seemed like no one noticed. She’s got a beautiful voice, full of emotion (think Lauryn Hill and India Arie put together.) Everyone needs to pay more attention to her, starting now.

Most Transformed Artist – Daniel Johns

He used to lead singer of 90s grunge band Silverchair. Heavy guitars, loud lyrics, long hair and apathy written everywhere. Now all of a sudden, Johns resurfaces as some hunky, electro-pop star, that makes his voice do things fans of Silverchair never even thought possible. See for yourselves.

Worst Break-Up – Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale

My inner 90s child’s heart broke when this news surfaced. They were supposed to be the music couple that made it all the way, the ones that lasted. They met on tour back in the 90s – she with No Doubt, he with Bush. It was so perfect in so many ways. And now it’s been ruined. As has my belief in humanity.

 

Best Summer Song – “2 Heads” by Coleman Hell

Hell is from Thunder Bay, and this track is fun, different, and makes you dance along to that country vibe. It just feels like summer.

 

Album of the Year – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful by  Florence + the Machine

There’s just something about Florence’s voice, artistry and her drama. She can sing any song, and give you goosebumps doing it. Every track on this album will probably change your life somehow. It’s worth a listen.

 

Song of the Year – “Don’t Wanna Fight” by Alabama Shakes

This track is an addiction. Gets you on a crazy high, feeds your soul, and makes you tingle all over. Brittany Howard’s vocals have so much fire in them, and once you add the funk in their music, you have sheer perfection.