You know you’re getting old when…

A sure sign you’re  getting old is when you’re excited about the band playing at the local 4th of July celebration.  Most of the time I have no idea who the main act is or it’s a country artist that I have zero interest in, but this year the Gin Blossoms are performing.  To be fair when New Miserable Experience came out when I was in junior high so I’m really not that old.

The Gin Blossoms were a departure from the gritty Seattle grunge sound at the time.  They are more light alternative pop with dark themes often mixed in with the pop melodies written by their troubled guitarist, Doug Hopkins.  While recording New Miserable Experience, Hopkins’ alcoholism got so bad the band was forced to replace him.  Hopkins later committed suicide while the song he wrote, “Hey Jealousy,” was climbing the charts.  “Found Out About You” was another hit single for the band written by Hopkins.

The band had more hit singles with “Til I hear It From You” on the Empire Records soundtrack and “Follow You Down” on the follow up album, Congratulations I’m Sorry, but they eventually broke up in 1997. Singer, Robin Wilson, and drummer, Phillip Rhodes, started another band, Gas Giants.  By the time they released their album, From Beyond the Back Burner, in 1999, I was working in radio.  We played the only single from the album, “Quitter,” and the band came to town for a concert.  But because of confusion between the label, the venue, and the radio station it turned out to be quite the cluster.  Okay, maybe I’m being a bit diplomatic about it. The station really had nothing to do with it. The band showed up unannounced thinking arrangements had been made such as, you know, hotel rooms and a venue to play. They hadn’t. Wilson wasn’t happy and let people know it, not that I could blame him.  I was frustrated by it all and didn’t bother going to the show.

The Gin Blossoms reunited and released albums in 2006 and 2010 with another new album rumored to be released soon.  Still, it’s those early songs that have become staples of the 90’s and remain relevant today.  I’ll have to check out the newer albums, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them live on the 4th.

Image result for gin blossoms

New Foo’s!

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard some new music from the Fighters of Foo.  Sonic Highways came out in 2014 followed by the St. Cecilia EP in 2015.  Dave and Taylor debuted a new acoustic song, “The Sky is a Neighborhood” a couple of weeks ago at a benefit show.  And now “Run.”  The vocals remind me a bit of “Weenie Beenie” from the first album mixed with the melodies the band has come to be known for.

Also known for their wacky videos, this one is no exception.  It was even directed by Dave.

Lithium Top 100

While on vacation, I heard the Lithium channel on Sirius XM counting down the top 100 Alternative and Grunge songs of the 90’s.  But as my wife pointed out, “isn’t that what they always play anyway, but now it’s in order?”  Well, yeah, but…okay I see your point.

As we closed in on the top 10, she asked me who I thought number 1 would be.  Obviously it would be Nirvana’s “Teen Spirit.”  It’s always number one.  But then there it was at number 5?!?  Okay, so it must be a Pearl Jam song since we already heard Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Smashing Pumpkins in the top 10.  Nope, “Alive” landed at number 3.  The Nirvana MTV Unplugged cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” came in at number 2.  What is happening?!?!?!  We reached the number one song of the list and I was thoroughly confused.  The number one alternative and grunge song of the 90’s according to the Lithium channel was “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Foo’s and “Everlong” is a great song, but the number 1 song of the 90’s Alternative and Grunge era?   No.

Here is the complete list:

Rank
Song
Artist/Band
100 Praise You Fatboy Slim
99 Scar Tissue Red Hot Chili Peppers
98 My Own Worst Enemy Lit
97 Cherub Rock Smashing Pumpkins
96 Tomorrow Silverchair
95 Learn To Fly Foo Fighters
94 In The Meantime Spacehog
93 Hey Jealousy Gin Blossoms
92 Big Empty Stone Temple Pilots
91 Closing Time Semisonic
90 Glycerine Bush
89 The Distance Cake
88 Daughter Pearl Jam
87 The Beautiful People Marilyn Manson
86 Stupid Girl Garbage
85 Otherside Red Hot Chili Peppers
84 Good Better Than Ezra
83 What’s The Frequency Kenneth? R.E.M.
82 Champagne Supernova Oasis
81 Burden In My Hand Soundgarden
80 Just A Girl No Doubt
79 In Bloom Nirvana
78 Backwater Meat Puppets
77 Brain Stew/Jaded Green Day
76 Loser Beck
75 Undone-The Sweater Song Weezer
74 I Alone Live
73 I’ll Stick Around Foo Fighters
72 Hey Man Nice Shot Filter
71 Guerrilla Radio Rage Against The Machine
70 Song 2 Blur
69 Comedown Bush
68 Flagpole Sitta Harvey Danger
67 Plush Stone Temple Pilots
66 What Would You Say Dave Matthews Band
65 1979 Smashing Pumpkins
64 Black Pearl Jam
63 Jane Says (Live) Jane’s Addiction
62 Give It Away Red Hot Chili Peppers
61 Would? Alice In Chains
60 Epic Faith No More
59 Monkey Wrench Foo Fighters
58 Low Cracker
57 Heart Shaped Box Nirvana
56 You Oughta Know Alanis Morissette
55 Man On The Moon R.E.M.
54 Buddy Holly Weezer
53 Peaches Presidents Of The United States Of America
52 Basket Case Green Day
51 Don’t Look Back In Anger Oasis
50 Fell On Black Days Soundgarden
49 Machinehead Bush
48 What I Got Sublime
47 Sabotage Beastie Boys
46 Tonight Tonight Smashing Pumpkins
45 Come Out And Play Offspring
44 Californication Red Hot Chili Peppers
43 Even Flow Pearl Jam
42 Semi-Charmed Life Third Eye Blind
41 Heaven Beside You Alice In Chains
40 Santa Monica Everclear
39 Lightning Crashes Live
38 Down 311
37 My Hero Foo Fighters
36 Possum Kingdom Toadies
35 Come As You Are Nirvana
34 Hunger Strike Temple Of The Dog
33 Interstate Love Song Stone Temple Pilots
32 Longview Green Day
31 Bittersweet Symphony The Verve
30 Killing In The Name Rage Against The Machine
29 Losing My Religion R.E.M.
28 Santeria Sublime
27 Everything Zen Bush
26 Spoonman Soundgarden
25 Rooster Alice In Chains
24 Creep Radiohead
23 Bullet With Butterfly Wings Smashing Pumpkins
22 No Rain Blind Melon
21 Lithium Nirvana
20 Self-Esteem Offspring
19 Creep Stone Temple Pilots
18 Been Caught Stealing Jane’s Addiction
17 Say It Ain’t So Weezer
16 All Over You Live
15 Wonderwall Oasis
14 When I Come Around Green Day
13 Jeremy Pearl Jam
12 Bulls On Parade Rage Against The Machine
11 Where It’s At Beck
10 Man In The Box Alice In Chains
9 Closer Nine Inch Nails
8 Under The Bridge Red Hot Chili Peppers
7 Black Hole Sun Soundgarden
6 Today Smashing Pumpkins
5 Smells Like Teen Spirit Nirvana
4 Vasoline Stone Temple Pilots
3 Alive Pearl Jam
2 The Man Who Sold The World (Unplugged) Nirvana
1 Everlong Foo Fighters

 

The core artists of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, STP, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, Bush, and Foo Fighters make up 47 songs on the list.  However, three of the five songs from RHCP come from the Californication album, which was released in the summer of ’99 barely qualifying for this list.  Is it a good album?  Absolutely, but not so much that three of the songs should outweigh other 90’s artists left off this list.  Where’s Candlebox, Seven Mary Three, Soul Asylum, or even Collective Soul?  I about drove off the road when I heard Harvey Danger made the list, but there’s no Butthole Surfers or the Cranberries.

Lithium host, Hardy, had this to say about compiling the list:

Narrowing down a decade’s worth of music to a list of 100 was a great deal easier than one would think. It only required two teams of experts, working 1,700 miles apart. The first team consisted of 9 of the world’s top alternative and grunge music experts locked in a conference room in the former Kmart World Headquarters in Troy, MI.  These musicologists needed only 3 weeks to compile a list of songs they felt deserving of being on the Lithium Top 100.

But in what order?  That’s where the second team began their work, in a laboratory built nearly a quarter mile beneath the surface of a nondescript patch of New Mexico desert. There, 17 rogue scientists used math, Bunsen burners and a particle accelerator to determine what song was truly number 1, and which one was 2.  And 3.  And so on.

So, enjoy! And give a silent nod to the brave men and women who gave so much to give you the definitive, undeniable and absolute Lithium Top 100 Countdown. Unless you don’t agree with the list, in which case, blame Twitter and Facebook.

At best this is an arbitrary list (what list isn’t?) designed to get people like me that grew up with this music to talk about what they left out and how I would rearrange the entire thing.  Well played, Lithium.

 

Live reuniting

It’s been rumored that Ed Kowalczyk is reuniting with his old band mates, Live.  There is no doubt Throwing Copper was a definitive album of the 90’s, spawning hit after hit.   I was a fan and stuck with the band through Secret Samadhi , The Distance to Here, V, and then I only got into the song “Heaven” from Birds of Pray.  You’d think after that long I’d be excited about the idea of a reunion, but I’m really not.  It’s one thing to be nostalgic, but it has been 13 years since I cared about a new song of theirs and over 20 years since the height of their popularity in the mid 90’s.

Looking back at what’s happened since, it’s surprising that they’re getting back together.  In 2009 they planned to take a two year hiatus that turned into a tumultuous break-up.  The band sued Kowalczyk over publishing rights and trademark infringement, which he counter-sued.  I wasn’t aware of this, but the remaining Live members recruited Kevin Martin and Sean Hennesy of Candlebox to form a new band, The Gracious Few, and released a self-titled album.  I’ll have to go check that out.  By 2011 though, the guys from Live decided to find a new lead singer and move on without Kowalczyk, releasing an album, The Turn.

It bothers me when bands tour without the original lead singer.  Let’s be honest; if the bass player gets replaced who really notices?  We recognize bands by the sound of the singer’s voice.  There isn’t always going to be an Arnel Pineda to replace a voice like Steve Perry’s.  So when a band tours under the same name but a different lead singer, they may as well be a really good cover band.

I’d probably be more excited about a reunited Live if they went on the road with another good band from the same era.  For some reason Third Eye Blind comes to mind.  The two bands are similar in the success they had with numerous hits from one album.  Candlebox would like make a lot of sense, too, given the history of the Gracious Few.  I never saw Live perform live back in the day, and I likely wouldn’t go out of my way to see them now. 

 

 

the Strumbellas

Last weekend we drove a couple of hours for a marching band competition.  An important aspect of any road trip is good music.  My go-to station on satellite radio is Alt Nation, channel 36.  They were playing sets from the Austin City Limits Music Fest and I heard the Strumbellas play live.  I already love their song, “Spirits,” but haven’t taken the time to listen to anything else from them.  I was impressed with what I heard and have been listening to them all week.   I figure if they were entertaining enough on the radio, imagine how good they must be in person!  I may have to go see them in December at the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis.  The name of the venue alone makes me want to see a concert there.

Here is a YouTube mix of their music.  Aside from “Spirits,” “Shovels and Dirt” and “We Don’t Know” are my favs from the current album.

No, it’s a coincidence!

I know this is from last November, but it popped up in my Facebook feed today.  James Corden and Alanis Morissette updated the lyrics to the song “Ironic” and it’s great.  The best part is near the end with the line, “It’s singing ‘Ironic,’ but there are no ironies.”  It has always bothered me that there’s nothing actually ironic in the original song.  Rain on your wedding day?  That sucks, but that’s not irony.  Winning the lottery and then dying?  That sucks too, but still not ironic.  The only thing that comes close is the fact that the song is called ironic and has no irony.