Wednesday, March 30, 2011

20 years on: March 30, 1991

As modern rock enters its (gulp) third decade, we're taking a look back at the charts of two decades ago.

This week in 1991: The #1 song in modern rock for the 3rd straight week was R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion." The charts for March are interesting to me because they contain four songs that are destined to turn up on pretty much any "best of the '90s" boxset in the future: "Losing My Religion," "I Touch Myself," "Unbelievable," and "Right Here, Right Now." But arguably, none of those songs reflect the direction modern rock radio would take in less than a year.

The top 10:

1. REM, "Losing My Religion"
2. Divinyls, "I Touch Myself"
3. EMF, "Unbelievable"
4. Material Issue, "Valerie Loves Me"

5. Morrissey, "Our Frank"
6. Havana 3 a.m., "Reach the Rock"
7. Daniel Ash, "This Love"
8. Simple Minds, "See the Lights"
Bet you didn't realize Simple Minds had a career beyond the Breakfast Club soundtrack, did you?
9. Jesus Jones, "Right Here, Right Now"
10. The Godfathers, "Unreal World"
Here's another band I'd never heard of. A British group whose sound was somewhat of a bridge between U2 and INXS and the later Britpop groups, this was the third (and final) charting single of their careers. They broke up not long after, though various members would use the Godfathers name to record throughout the '90s, with little success.

Don't you love the John Lennon sunglasses and mullet look that drummer's rocking?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

This week in reunions... A Perfect Circle!

* A Perfect Circle, featuring members of the Smashing Pumpkins and Tool, are back together and on tour this summer.

* If you see Beady Eye on one of their few North American dates this year, don't expect to hear any Oasis songs, Gem Archer says. Not even the ones that Liam wrote?

* The Blink-182 reunion album could be out by summer, according to Rolling Stone.

* Lou Barlow just got Sebadoh back together, and a deluxe reissue of their 1994 album Bakesale comes out in June.

*And, the news you've all been waiting with baited breath for... thank your lucky stars, because after 6 long years, we finally have new Limp Bizkit music to look forward to. Gold Cobra, their first full-length album since 2003, comes out June 7.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This week in solo albums: Travis Barker?!?

* New this week: ex-Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft has a new solo album, recorded with several hip-hop producers. This probably isn't as terrible a move as Chris Cornell's album with Timbaland, just because Ashcroft's other solo work has been so soporific.

* Speaking of Chris Cornell, Soundgarden just put out a live album and are supposedly working in the studio, but Cornell is taking a break this spring to do some solo acoustic shows.  The one in my area sold out very quickly.

* Also new and in stores this week: Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker's solo album. Based on the performance I saw on Conan and the clips available online, Barker is just drumming and producing, not singing.

* Dinosaur Jr. frontman J. Mascis has a new solo album. It's supposed to be a bit "folky."

* While not a solo album per se, erstwhile Blur / Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn is working on a new opera about an Elizabethan-era astrologer which will premiere this summer in Manchester. That Damon, always out-Britishing everybody else.

*And my favorite solo album news of the week comes from Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, whose second solo album will come out this summer and was recorded exclusively using ukuleles. Ukulele Songs comes out May 31. Check out the sounds of Hawaii on Vedder's solo tour; get dates here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

20 years on: March 23, 1991

As modern rock enters its (gulp) third decade, we're going to be taking a look back at the charts of two decades ago.

This week in 1991: The #1 song in modern rock for the 2nd straight week was R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion."

The top 10:

1. REM, "Losing My Religion"
2. Divinyls, "I Touch Myself"
3. EMF, "Unbelievable"
4. Jesus Jones, "Right Here, Right Now"
5. Daniel Ash, "This Love"
Allmusic says this is the Love and Rockets lead singer's only solo hit. In retrospect, it seems evident that this song rode so high on the modern rock charts because of who sang it, because it's a little generic.

6. Material Issue, "Valerie Loves Me"
7. The Replacements, "When it Began"
8. Havana 3 a.m., "Reach the Rock"
9. Morrissey, "Our Frank"
The lead single from Morrissey''s second solo album creeps into the top 10.
10. Enigma, "Sadeness Pt. 1"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

20 years on: March 16, 1991

As modern rock enters its (gulp) third decade, we're going to be taking a look back at the charts of two decades ago.

This week in 1991: The #1 song in modern rock, in only its 2nd week on the top of the charts, was R.E.M.'s biggest-ever US single, "Losing My Religion."

The top 10:

1. REM, "Losing My Religion"
2. Jesus Jones, "Right Here, Right Now"
3. Daniel Ash, "This Love"
4. Divinyls, "I Touch Myself"
5. EMF, "Unbelievable"
6. The Replacements, "When it Began"
As REM is on the verge of becoming one of the biggest bands in the world, the Replacements, seen by many in the college-rock scene of the '80s as an equally-plausible contender for success, are in the middle of their final tour, and their last hit single has begun sliding down the charts.

Down to only two original members by this point, the Replacements finally called it quits July 4, 1991. Cool video, though.

7. Enigma, "Sadeness pt. 1"
8. Material Issue, "Valerie Loves Me." A personal favorite of mine from 1991.
9. Havana 3 a.m., "Reach the Rock." This is one I'd never heard of. Apparently, Clash bassist Paul Simonon was in the band. This was their only hit.

10. The Fixx, "How Much is Enough."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Guess the sample

Have you heard Travie McCoy's new single, "We'll be Alright"?

Hm... that chorus sounds awfully familiar.
That's right; the song liberally samples Supergrass' 1995 hit "Alright."

Given that I heard the McCoy song four times on the radio last weekend, I'd like to congratulate Supergrass on finally having a hit in America.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

This week in reunions: Sublime!

* The reunited Sublime (billed as "Sublime with Rome" because, you know, Bradley Nowell is still dead) will be playing Lollapalooza Chile April 3 and several other festivals in South America this spring. Plus, they're in the studio working on an album. Check out the progress (recommended if you were into the Long Beach Dub All-Stars) here.

* It's certainly not happening anytime soon, but Liam Gallagher is no longer saying "never" to an Oasis reunion. Beady Eye sales figures?

* The Lilith Fair gang, who reunited last year for a tour that did not sell many tickets, won't be doing it again this summer. Sarah McLachlan says Lilith Fair is "done."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

20 years on: March 9, 1991

As modern rock enters its (gulp) third decade, we're going to be taking a look back at the charts of two decades ago.

This week in 1991: The #1 song in modern rock, coming to the end of its one-month run at the top, was Jesus Jones' "Right Here Right Now."

Reflecting the pre-Nirvana days of modern rock radio in the US, the rest of this week's top ten was a mix of holdover new wave bands (such as the Fixx) and people (such as Sting) that you would never hear on a KROQ or 99X today.
1. Jesus Jones, "Right Here, Right Now"
2. Daniel Ash, "This Love"
3. Divinyls, "I Touch Myself." (editor's note: REALLY?)
4. The Replacements, "When it Began"
5. R.E.M., "Losing My Religion"
Debuting at #5 and beginning its ascent: REM's "Losing My Religion," their biggest-ever single. It would go on to spend 2 months at #1.
6. EMF, "Unbelievable." I am not ashamed to admit I own a cassette copy of Schubert Dip.
7. Enigma, "Sadeness Pt. 1". Ah yes, the brief Gregorian-chant craze of the early '90s:

8. Sting, "All This Time"
9. Havana 3 a.m., "Reach the Rock"
10. The Fixx, "How Much is Enough"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

RIP Mike Starr

Mike Starr, former bass player for Alice in Chains, died earlier today, TMZ is reporting. He was 44. Starr reportedly passed away in a home in Salt Lake City. He was arrested a few weeks ago for possession of prescription drugs and had appeared on a recent season of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.

There's a fairly lengthy discussion of this on the Alice in Chains messageboard, but as of yet no official statement from Jerry Cantrell or Sean Kinney, now the only two surviving original members of one of grunge's most influential bands.

From the Cutout Bin: Seven Mary Three - Orange Ave.

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 final major-label album by Seven Mary Three, 1998's Orange Ave.

Of all the albums we've done for this feature so far, this one was one of the more successful ones: it charted at #121 in the summer of 1998, and the lead single, "Over Your Shoulder," was a Top 10 mainstream rock and a Top 20 modern rock hit. So why did I get a copy (admittedly, a radio promo copy without any liner notes or artwork, but still) for $1? Because 7M3's first major-label album, 1995's American Standard, went platinum, and their follow-up, Rock Crown, failed to go gold. So expectations were low for Orange Ave., which came out a scant 14 months after Rock Crown.

I probably should note that I don't own any of 7M3's other albums, and haven't heard them all the way through. I am familiar with the hit singles: "Cumbersome," "Water's Edge," "My My," "Lucky," etc. I've seen the band once, at a radio station festival in the fall of 1998. And I was in a band in high school that ripped off the riff from "Water's Edge" for one of our songs. So there are my Seven Mary Three credentials up front.

This album seems like a conscious decision to get away from the "post-grunge" label that 7M3 were saddled with after their first two albums. And unlike bands like Better than Ezra, who released albums in 1998 that dabbled in electronica and trip-hop, Orange Ave.went in a '70s outlaw country / roots-rock direction. This is the sound of a band that were really into Pearl Jam, but used that as a gateway to Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, and Skynyrd.

This album is pretty good. It sounds like a southern-rock Wallflowers album, and that's not a backhanded compliment. "Over Your Shoulder" is a great song. No, really: listen for yourself:

That's a live version from 2009; the band didn't make any music videos off this album, which probably reflects Atlantic's continued interest in them.

Things were not going well for the band by the time Orange Ave. came out. From 7M3's own webpage, here's lead singer Jason Ross on the album: "The record is disjointed. The fragile moments and the energetic ones never reached continuity, largely because some of us weren’t speaking to each other at the time. It is our only attempt at making a straightforward pop rock record. There are songs on it that deserved a better effort than we could give at the time amidst the upheaval of knowing something bad was about to happen. I wanted to pay respects to my hometown of Orlando, a much-maligned hub of disposable entertainment and excess. Touring in support of Orange Avenue was work. And it was sad. It never felt like work before, but the damage was done." Lead guitarist Jason Pollock quit the band after this album.

From trolling the web, it seems as if this album is a bit of a black-sheep in the 7M3 catalog for the band's fans, but I rather enjoyed it. Besides "Over Your Shoulder," I also particularly liked "In-Between" and "Southwestern State."

7 Mary 3 are still going, and have managed to maintain a cult following. They've released three studio albums on various indie labels since Orange Ave. and opened up for Three Doors Down in 2004 on a lengthy amphitheater tour. Only lead singer Jason Ross and the bass player are still around from the original incarnation of the band, but they have a new acoustic album out, and they're playing Alaska later this month. Visit their webpage here.

Is Orange Ave. worth your dollar? I'd say yes.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

This week in reunions... Remy Zero!

* Remy Zero, who broke up in 2003, reunited last year for a few scattered shows as a tribute to their drummer, who died of cystic fibrosis in January 2010. Now they've released a new single that's available as a free download here. Will there be a new album, or more shows? No plans as of yet. I wonder if they made so much money off the Smallville theme song that they still don't need day jobs?

* Not sure what the status of the Rage Against the Machine reunion is; they played a few dates in South America last fall, but have made no progress toward releasing any new music since their reformation in 2007. Tom Morello, meanwhile, spent last week in Wisconsin protesting with union leaders. Zack de la Rocha was not in attendance.

* Stone Temple Pilots are touring the US again. Antiquiet reviewed one of the first shows, in an Oklahoma casino.

* Chris Cornell tells Spin that Soundgarden starts recording their new album soon. Adam Kasper, who produced 1996's Down on the Upside as well as albums by the Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, and Pearl Jam, is producing.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

More Pearl Jam reissues coming

The Ten reissue was successful enough that Pearl Jam will reissue Vs. and Vitalogy on March 29 with various studio outtakes, acoustic versions, and covers tacked on. 
These are the two albums that ousted PJ drummer Dave Abbruzzese played on, so congratulations to him on getting a larger-than-normal royalties check this year.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Beastie Boys in April

The Beastie Boys' new album Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2 comes out April 19, with a new single, "Make Some Noise," out March 28. Can you believe this is only the Beasties' eighth album? If you want to hear one of the tracks off the album, "Lee Majors Come Again," go here.