Friday, September 10, 2010

Hole covers Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails

Back from hibernation, with news that Hole (which, recall, is Courtney Love and some people you've never heard of) has been covering Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" and Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" at some of its European tour dates.
Here's "Jeremy"

And here's "Closer,"

And with that, I'm pretty sure the '90s just collapsed upon themselves.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

RIP Mark Linkous

Mark Linkous, the driving force behind Sparklehorse, has died, reportedly by suicide. Sparklehorse didn't have a ton of mainstream success, but were well-regarded by critics. Here's their one modern-rock hit, "Someday I will Treat You Good," which hit #35 in 1996.

While catchy, that song isn't that representative of Linkous' entire output, which often seemed to split the difference between Mercury Rev and the Eels.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

This week in break-ups: Live! Red Hot Chili Peppers! Fuel!

* Apparently John Frusciante quit the Red Hot Chili Peppers a year ago, and forgot to tell anybody. The Chilis reformed with some other guitarist for a tribute concert honoring Neil Young. Meanwhile, Flea turned up over the holidays playing the Simpsons theme on Fox and backing up Josh Groban for a performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the BCS Championship Game and is now part of Atoms for Peace, Thom Yorke's backing band, which is touring the US in April.

* That Live hiatus may be a lot longer than anybody realized. Guitarist Chad Taylor has taken to his blog and accused lead singer Ed Kowalczyk of stealing from the rest of the band. The non-Kowalczyk members of Live are in a new band called the Gracious Few, with Kevin Martin of Candlebox on lead vocals. Kowalczyk is doing a solo acoustic tour with Art Alexakis and the chick from Sixpence None the Richer.

* Fuel haven't been heard from since 2007 or so, and now ex-lead singer Brett Scallions and bassist Jeff Abercrombie have started a band called Refueled, which tours around and plays Fuel's songs off the first three (successful) albums. Meanwhile, Scallions' replacement, Tornyn Green, has joined a new band. Which would make one think that Fuel are no more.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

From the cutout bin: Foam - Big Windshield Little Mirror

Welcome to From the Cutout Bin, where we dig up old CDs that have been forgotten for whatever reason and can now be found in the dollar (or quarter) bin at your local used CD store (if your community still has a used CD store). This installment features the debut (and only) album by Maryland natives Foam, 1998's Big Windshield Little Mirror.

I found this album for $1 in the clearance used bin at my local shop, still in its original shrinkwrap, and when I opened it up, I found a little card offering a month's free access to Earthlink (assuming I had Windows 95 or 3.1 or Macintosh 7.5 installed). I was also invited to "cruise the internet!" with Sony Music Online and their custom browser. I'm pretty sure that custom browser thing didn't really pan out.

Anyway, Foam. Produced by Michael Beinhorn, mixed by Tom Lord-Alge. Quite the pedigree. Beinhorn's famed for being one of the most expensive producers out there, and he'd just done Hole's Celebrity Skin, Social Distortion's White Light White Heat White Trash,* and Marilyn Manson, so he was coming off three platinum albums in a row.

Foam sound like Live. A LOT like Live. You can hear it from the first notes of "Head Not Love." "If" sounds like the Gin Blossoms for about 45 seconds, then it dips back into Live territory. This shouldn't be that surprising, as Foam came from Hagerstown, MD, in the northwestern part of the state, about 75 miles from York, PA, the home of Live. When their debut album came out, they were in their early 20s, meaning they grew up on Mental Jewelry and Throwing Copper. Their early demos were produced by Live's guitarist, Chad Taylor. Reportedly, they hadn't even played a show outside of Maryland when they got signed (if you want to see how green Foam were, check out this interview from the Baltimore Sun in the spring of 1998). Knowing their backstory now, I'd have been more surprised if they didn't sound like Live.

Remember that great lost Live track that Kevin Smith used a couple of years ago? This is like the great lost Live album. Same guitar tones, same vocal stylings, same everything. Even that same Ed Kowalcyzk falsetto. Seriously, go to their Myspace page and listen to "Rollercoaster." That being said, Big Windshield, Little Mirror is really pretty good. It sags in the middle, and the lyrics are a bit sophomoric, but those are problems that could have been fixed with a follow-up had this album not tanked.

If I were to guess, I'd say the biggest problem with this album is Live's 1997 album Secret Samadhi, which flopped as Foam were recording. It would have fit in exactly on the radio in 1995. Problem is, it came out in 1998, and up against Semisonic, Fastball, and Third Eye Blind on the radio, Foam sounded way too heavy. This album has to be considered one of the bigger flops of the late '90s, based on the large amount of money that Epic undoubtedly spent on recording / mixing, and the fact that none of the singles charted.

Based on the sketchy information I was able to find on the Internet (there are no Foam videos on YouTube and no Foam page on Wikipedia), the band spent most of '98 opening up for second-tier alt-rock acts, then dropped off the face of the earth. There are vague references to a band called Head Not Love (the name of the opening track on this album), indicating that they probably had to change their name in order to get out from their record contract after being dropped.

This album's super-easy to find; there are a lot of penny albums on Amazon, and if you want to pay less than $3.50 for shipping, copies pop up on eBay a lot, too. Or you might find an unopened copy like I did.

Postscript: Foam reunited in 2007... they now have a Facebook page and a Twitter feed and a Myspace page. If you go to any of those, you'll see they're promising new music in 2010. Maybe there's still time for Foam.

* Beinhorn's pedigree: Red Hot Chili Peppers' Mothers Milk, Soul Asylum's Grave Dancers Union, Soundgarden's Superunknown, Marilyn Manson's Mechanical Animals, the absolutely spectacular Verve Pipe self-titled album.

Monday, January 25, 2010

This week in reunions... Eve 6! The Verve Pipe!

* Eve 6, who broke up in 2004 after the disappointing performance of their third album, have very quietly reunited, with two of the three original members (guitarist Jon Siebels is still missing). Their Myspace page shows a few college shows this spring and there are vague promises of a new album coming this year.

* One of the bands I considered for the "Who Should Reunite?" feature, the Verve Pipe, are actually (and unexpectedly) back together with a new children's album and an acoustic tour in February. Get more info here.

* Oleander are back together, and set to release an album this spring, their first since 2003. Fun fact: some acquaintaces of mine once got to open for Oleander in Lawton, Oklahoma. That's the most exciting thing I remember about Oleander.

* The reunited Sublime is going to have to call themselves something different.

* Days of the New are readying their first album since 2001. Given that Days of the New has been just Travis Meeks since he fired the rest of the band during recording sessions for Days of the New II, it's hard to call this a reunion, however.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Hootie ballet

Somehow I missed this, but last year, in South Carolina, there was a Hootie ballet. A ballet, based on the songs of Hootie and the Blowfish.

You know, between this and the musicals based on Green Day and Matthew Sweet, I'm starting to wonder. Why didn't this happen to other eras of music? I don't remember an opera based on Foghat, or a stage play using only lyrics from Whitesnake songs.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Who's left to reunite?

Given the big news of the Soundgarden reunion this month, and the successful reunion tours last year from Alice in Chains, Blink-182, the Cranberries, Stone Temple Pilots, Blur, and Sugar Ray, I got to wondering: what big bands from the golden era of grunge still need to reunite? A partial list:

1. Bush. Probably the biggest rock band of the '90s yet to get back together, though not for lack of trying. Gavin Rossdale has been making noise about a reunion in recent years, and if you believe Internet rumor, his 2008 solo album Wanderlust was intended to be a Bush album until ex-guitarist Nigel Pulsford refused to participate. The only other member besides Rossdale who's still active in music is drummer Robin Goodridge, who is in the Stone Gods with the former members of the Darkness.* Odds of reunion: not great, unless Rossdale wants to "reform" Bush with some session musicians.

2. 10,000 Maniacs. While some version of 10,000 Maniacs is still together and touring sporadically (centered around the original bass player, keyboard player, and drummer), we're of course referring to a reunion of Natalie Merchant with her first band. One complication to a possible reunion: lead guitarist Rob Buck, who wrote most of the band's best songs with Merchant, died 10 years ago. In addition, Merchant's spent most of this decade dormant, so if she really wanted to do a reunion, she probably would have cashed in by now. Odds of reunion: Pretty low. Merchant has a new album coming out in March (her first in 7 years), so if this were to happen, it certainly wouldn't be this year.

3. Belly. One of my favorite bands of the '90s (their second album is a lost classic), they broke up in 1996 and lead singer Tanya Donelly has pursued a sporadic solo career since then. Ex-bassist Gail Greenwood is still active in music, and the Gorman brothers, the band's guitarist and drummer, are supposedly commercial photographers now. Odds of reunion: better than the first two. Although I wonder how many people besides me want to see them back together.

4. Smashing Pumpkins / Everclear / Hole. All three bands are technically "still together," though in reality they've become solo projects for their respective lead singers. An actual, all-original-members lineup reunion tour might be pretty cool (Lesser bands from the era like Sponge and Seven Mary Three fit in this category, too).

5. Jesus Jones / EMF. Because hey, why not?

* Interestingly, the rights to Bush's '90s albums are now owned by Kirtland Records, the label run by the ex-drummer of Deep Blue Something. When Trauma (home to Bush, No Doubt, and the Flys) went belly-up, Kirtland bought the Bush master tapes at auction. obtained the Bush master tapes (thanks for the correction, Tami).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

This week in reunions... Soundgarden! Hole! Lilith Fair!

* As announced on Twitter by Chris Cornell, Soundgarden have returned after 12 years away, Audioslave, and that God-awful Cornell solo album with Timbaland. No word on what the reunion entails yet, but expect a tour of some kind. If you go here, you can enter your e-mail address and then watch an old music video.

* Despite the fact that she just lost custody of her daughter, Courtney Love is forging ahead with the Hole reunion-that-doesn't-include-any-original-members-except-maybe-the-drummer. Go here and you can hear about 10 seconds of instrumental music from the forthcoming Nobody's Daughter. Love has also taken to Twitter again, and three Hole dates in Europe have been announced for February.

* Despite some last-minute legal threats from Bradley Nowell's family, the Sublime reunion actually happened. Spinner says about 15,000 were in attendance for the big show featuring new vocalist Rome Ramirez, who was only 8 years old when Sublime's self-titled album came out. The show was officially advertised as a Sublime "celebration," so maybe that's how they'll get around the proposed lawsuits. Or the surviving members of Sublime could take the Nowell family's advice and just reunite the Long Beach Dub All-Stars.

* OMG, ladies... Lilith Fair IS BACK! Here's the lineup so far.