Archive for the ‘Grunge’ Category

Chris Cornell first invaded my ears back in the early 90s as frontman of Soundgarden – a Seattle band front and centre in the grunge music scene. Those formative years wouldn’t have been the same without that distinctive voice, his voice. Cornell’s vocals were what set them apart from the plethora of grunge bands trying to make it big at the time. His ability to hit such high octaves with perfect control, but also be raw and loud, gave him such versatility, and a sound that will always truly be his own (start video at 0:19) 

In Soundgarden’s early days, even before they “made it big” with 1994’s Superunknown, Cornell lived with musician Andrew Wood, of the band Mother Love Bone. After Wood died of a heroin overdose in 1990, Cornell got together with Wood’s bandmates, and wrote and produced a tribute album, under the name Temple of the Dog. It also featured backing vocals of newcomer Eddie (of yet-to-be-formed Pearl Jam.) The whole idea behind this entire project was friendship, so it’s no surprise I’ve made long-lasting friendships based on a mutual love for this powerful, anthemic track.

Soundgarden inevitably broke up in 1997, like the rest of the grunge bands. Cornell decided to kick off a solo career with 1999’s Euphoria Morning, which fared pretty well. As a solo artist, he also performed covers, appeared on soundtracks, and even had one of his albums produced by Timbaland (which did not fare well with his fans.) Point is, he was always experimenting, always making music, always in our ears. This track appeared in the movie Great Expectations – the one with Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow. It was the best part of the movie, and revealed a much softer Cornell, reaffirming that he really was capable of anything.

If Cornell didn’t have enough going on already, in 2001 he joined ex-members of rock-metal band Rage Against the Machine, to form Audioslave. A hard rock band, similar in many ways to Soundgarden, just less grunge and more aggression. They were loud, but also musical. By this time, I was in University, a completely different phase in my life. But there he was – still ringing in my ears. This track is so incredibly haunting and proof that no matter how much noise was going on, Cornell’s voice could always rise above, and take the whole thing to another level.

I had the privilege of seeing Cornell play live 3 three times. Once as a solo act at a small venue in Hamilton. I drove through a snowstorm, in pitch black just to get there, and it was worth every second. The 2nd time was with Soundgarden on their reunion tour at an outdoor venue; when the sky turned gray, and they went into “Fell on Black Days,” the rain didn’t even matter. Lastly, a solo acoustic show at Massey Hall: just him, his guitar and a lot of incredible music. I went to this show all by myself, because I couldn’t miss this opportunity. I had goosebumps the entire time, and never felt I was there alone – Cornell, as usual, was right there.

There was never a time in my musical life that Cornell wasn’t doing something, or part of something. Everything he got involved with, somehow became a part of my life. A memory, a mood, a phase. It was comforting to know, no matter what he was doing, it would always resonate with me. When he performed live as a solo artist, the most remarkable thing was not only did fans get to see Cornell, but also Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog and Audioslave. So when Chris Cornell passed away on May 17th, not only was he gone, but he also took Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, and Audioslave with him. As a music fan, that’s a whole lot of music to mourn.

Advertisements

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.