Grunge

Over the Weekend (May 11 Edition)

New music, new videos, and other time-wasters to kick off your week…

Fans of Aphex Twin should be thrilled with the massive amount of free music that he released today.  There is a zip file with over 2 GBs worth of music available for download, as well as a YouTube playlist of over 200 songs, though the amount of overlap between the two has yet to be determined.  We had seen evidence before that Richard James was hard at work in all those years between releases, but it is great to finally hear more of the results.

Courtney Barnett is an artist that has been receiving a huge amount of buzz lately, especially after her recent appearances at SXSW.  We have been rather skeptical of the praise so far (our reaction to her recent single that has begun to get radio airplay is that it sounds like “Molly’s Chambers” with a female version of Mark E. Smith yelling over the top), but we have to admit that we enjoy the fun video that was created for “Dead Fox” that was released today.

Sharon Van Etten will be releasing a new EP next month, and today she released another track off of I Don’t Want To Let You Down.  Pitchfork has the SoundCloud link for “Just Like Blood”.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are currently on tour celebrating the tenth anniversary of their self-titled debut, and Stereogum has the premiere of an acoustic version of “Let The Cool Goddess Rust Away” from that seminal album.

And finally, have fun with a variety of useless lists this week.  The most ambitious is SPIN’s 300 Best Albums of the Past 30 Years, which if anything is at least diverse, and at least makes an attempt in a lot of cases to avoid merely following along with consensus opinion.  Diffuser provides a handy list of 19 Influential Grunge Musicians that they claim “you’ve never heard of,” but whatever the accuracy is of the second part of their claim, it serves as a handy guide for diving into the Seattle scene beyond the Big Four.  Then there is NME’s contribution, a list of the original titles for famous albums, which has more than a few mildly amusing anecdotes.

Covered: “Touch Me I’m Sick”

Covered is a feature where we examine the merits of various cover songs, debating whether or not they capture the spirit and intent of the original, if the cover adds anything new, and whether or not it perhaps surpasses the original. If we fail on those counts, at the very least we may expose you to different versions of great songs you hadn’t heard before.

If you guessed that we selected this song for ulterior reasons, congratulations, you have seen through my ruse.  Today has been rather unpleasant, and any post published today should probably be reflective of that fact.  Inspiration eventually struck, as I remembered my favorite Mudhoney track, the delightfully scuzzy “Touch Me I’m Sick”.  It is certainly not the most adventurous pick, since their first hit is definitely their most well-known, but I have always loved the song’s ability to mine the common ground of Stooges-era punk with the abrasiveness and power of metal, providing the blueprint of what would become “grunge”.  Also, it is a hilariously ridiculously offensive song if you take it seriously, but you probably shouldn’t.

I had no idea if anyone covered this classic, but since it is a fairly easy song to learn as well as one that is ridiculously fun to play, I figured there was a good chance that a cover existed somewhere.  It turns out that Sonic Youth did an early cover of the song as part of a split single where Mudhoney returned the favor.  There is not much to recommend about Sonic Youth’s version beyond any mild curiosity one might have, aside from the mildly intriguing twist of having Kim Gordon deliver the fairly depraved lyrics, giving the song an unexpected feminist perspective in the process.  Otherwise, it is a fairly by-the-numbers take, with the band matching the shambolic punk attitude by barely playing the riff together after a cursory feedback-drenched intro.  The importance was more symbolic, as Sonic Youth deemed this young up-and-coming band worthy of attention, serving as another example of Sonic Youth’s willingness to embrace their role as a gatekeeper in the early days of when alternative music broke into the mainstream.

In the future, we will analyze Sonic Youth’s reinterpretation of an old classic that marked a better use of the band’s unique sensibility.  As for “Touch Me I’m Sick”, I would stick with the original, superior version.

Catching Up On The Week (Feb. 6 Edition)

Some #longreads for the moments you refrain from laughter due to serious newscasters using the phrase “Pineapple Express”

We’re really excited for the release next week of Father John Misty’s new album, I Love You Honeybear–his debut, Fear Fun, was a pleasant surprise and the man put on one entertaining live show.  To help prepare you for the new record, be sure to read the profiles on Josh Tillman on Grantland and Pitchfork.

There are few reasons to care about the Grammys no matter what year it is, but the fact that Beck’s Morning Phase was nominated for Album of the Year and as a result will perform with Chris Martin on Sunday’s telecast might spur us to watch.  However, the awards did provide the L.A. Times with the opportunity to talk to Beck and discuss how he feels now that he’s no longer the young buck but an elder statesman for these shows.

If you’ve ever listened to a Sub Pop album from its early days, chances are you listened to an album recorded by Jack Endino.  He was the man behind the boards for a number of the heavyweights of the grunge era, and has continued to record numerous awesome indie bands since then.  Noisey caught up with the former Skin Yard drummer for an interview.

Everybody has been talking about the recent leak of the settlement between Sam Smith and Tom Petty over the similarities between “Stay With Me” and “Won’t Back Down”, and that prompted the AV Club to take a look at other instances of musical “borrowing.”  The first part of the Inventory was released today, so be sure to check on Monday for a few more examples.

And finally, if you still find yourself with some free time this weekend, check out the Albums That Never Were blog, which has painstakingly recreated some of the most famous “lost albums” of all-time, all with meticulous notes about their composition.