• Blame Nirvana: The 40 Weirdest Post-'Nevermind' Major-Label Albums

    Blame Nirvana: The 40 Weirdest Post-'Nevermind' Major-Label Albums

    The bustle around "alternative rock" in the early 1990s was certainly not the first major-label feeding frenzy to roil the music industry, but it was the last phenomenon of its kind. Unlike, say, the disco inferno or the '70s AOR invasion, the alt-rock boom would prove more baffling, expensive, and detrimental to the industry and the artists involved. You probably know somebody who got fucked.Of course, it was primarily the success of Nirvana's Nevermind that initiated this madness, though it had a little help, both in the years leading up to its release and in the three or four years that followed. Jane's Addiction's 1988 album Nothing's Shocking was a major-label gamble on a hot cult band that paid off. Sonic Youth, who were almost singlehandedly responsible for bringing Nirvana to the attention of DGC, signed to the same label in 1989.

  • 100127-jay-reatard.jpg

    Jay Reatard Remembered

    [Editor's Note: Memphis writer Andrew Earles considers the rocker, who died Jan. 13 in his sleep at age 29.] Memphis, Tennessee, can be reliably fruitful for those who have chosen particular fields. Lawyers and advertising execs do well here, as do commercial real estate developers and the proprietors of catering businesses, liquor stores, and landscaping companies. Memphis can also be perfectly rewarding for the creatively-inclined, though a certain percentage of musicians, artists, or writers can always be counted on to split, generally before reaching the goal of self-sustenance, convinced of another city's ability to speed the process. And finally, Memphis seems oddly hospitable to motormouths favoring pie-in-the-sky talk over any degree of noticeable creative progress.

  • Son Ambulance, 'Someone Else's Déjá Vu' (Saddle Creek)

    If the ultra-lo-fi shitgaze genre (Pink Reason, Times New Viking) represents one extreme of indie pop, Son Ambulance clearly represents the other. Omaha-based multi-instrumentalist Joe Knapp spent three years making Someone Else's Déjà Vu, and the album is another reminder that lush studio-reliant soft and prog rock of the late '70s can still offer legitimate inspiration. For example, towering highlight "Legend of Lizeth" is updated Lindsey Buckingham circa Tusk tinged with Animals-era Pink Floyd, and it's the first of many tracks (like "Wild Roses" and "Yesterday Morning") that sound as if they took three years each to write and record. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Ratatat, 'LP3' (XL)

    Guitarist Mike Stroud and multi-instrumentalist Evan Mast give their subtly textured, rockist electronica a more festive, uplifting mood on the duo's third album. With beats mixed loudly but programmed casually, Stroud's soloing wraps '70s arena-rock fretwork (think Boston) in a gauze of '80s new-wave production, seamlessly meshing with the album's many addictive surprises, including rickety skiffle("Mirando"), reggae flirtations ("Flynn"), and moody electro bubblegum ("Shempi"). LP3 is as wildly organic as instrumental electronica gets without becoming another genre (or five) altogether. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Melvins, 'Nude With Boots' (Ipecac)

    The Melvins' remarkable Houdini/Stoner Witch/Stag run of bone-rattling, first-class heaviness in the mid-1990s was updated with 2006's charming (A) Senile Animal. And it was no fluke, because now comes the even better Nude With Boots, studio album number 19 (!). Bassist Jared Warren and second drummer Coady Willis (a.k.a. Big Business) return as the perfect-fit rhythm section for lifers Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover, who are still communicating in their own avant-boogie metal language like twins separated at birth. "Billy Fish," "The Smiling Cobra," and "Kicking Machine" are among the best (and catchiest) songs they have written during their quarter-decade project in hard-rock deconstruction, summoning and scrambling Zeppelin, Saint Vitus, late-'80s thrash, and...vintage Melvins. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Dillinger Escape Plan, 'Ire Works' (Relapse)

    This New Jersey quintet sounds nothing like Lamb of God or Mastodon, but they all share the distinction of being classified as "extreme metal," and all three have emerged from a steadily built grassroots fan base into the world of six-figure sales and major-label contracts. Ire Works, Dillinger's third full-length (after more than a decade together), is packed with the sometimes brutal, sometimes beautiful music only they play -- an inhumanly dexterous blur that skids from grindcore to progressive jazz and beyond.

  • Coheed and Cambria, 'No World for Tomorrow' (Sony)

    The emo demographic, not known for surprises, pulled a big one a few years back by going bonkers for this upstate New York band's unapologetic fusion of the aforementioned genre with Rush, Dream Theater, and early Queensrÿche. But on their fourth full-length, Coheed's emo leanings have faded. Instead, this is crystal-clear, foot-on-the-monitor power metal: acoustic intros, guitar shred, thrash-lite riffing, Claudio Sanchez's vertigo-inducing falsetto, and a five-part closer that attempts to wrap up the band's baffling sci-fi conceptual saga. At the very least, No World for Tomorrow should ensure that 21-year-old dudes in women's jeans will gobble up reissues of 2112 for years to come. Now Hear This: Coheed and Cambria - "The Running Free" DOWNLOAD MP3 More on Coheed and Cambria on SPIN.com: Coheed and Cambria at Voodoo 2007 Hot Beef: Rock Band Band vs.

  • Shocking Pinks, 'Shocking Pinks' (DFA/ Astralwerks)

    The Shocking Pinks' self-titled debut could be the result of a supergroup featuring members of bands on the fabled New Zealand label Flying Nun -- the Clean, the Chills, the Verlaines, the Bats. This is no accident, as Pinks leader Chris Harte grew up immersed in the influential jangle of his homeland, where there were hooks to burn. It also appears that Harte wore out an import copy of My Bloody Valentine's Isn't Anything (see "Blonde Haired Girl"). Revivalist? Sure, but this refreshing, smarter side of the late '80s has yet to be co-opted into a hipster fashion show. Now Hear This: Shocking Pinks - "I Want U Back" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Every Time I Die, 'The Big Dirty' (Ferret)

    This Buffalo, New York quartet's metalcore sound owes more to classic-rock party grooves than the Swedish death-metal scare tactics that many of their contemporaries ran into the ground a couple years back -- think razor-sharp guitars, as opposed to thick, D-tuned riffing. There's also more melody than on 2005's Gutter Phenomenon, with legit choruses behind Keith Buckley's screams (no childish growling, thankfully). Every Time I Die's rhythmic looseness and sense of humor (sample song title: "Buffalo Gals") actually threaten to bust them out of their sometimes constrictive genre. Now Hear This Every Time I Die - "Rendez-Voodoo" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Liars, 'Liars' (Mute)

    It speaks volumes that the fourth Liars album is eponymous. Gone are the frantic post-punk throwbacks of their 2001 debut, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top, and the heavy-handed conceptual experimentation of the following two LPs, which combined electronic noise and allusions to witchcraft. Here, blazing opener "Plaster Casts of Everything" flips the aggro electro-pummel of early-'90s Wax Trax into organically surging rock, "Houseclouds" is dance pop of hit-worthy catchiness (and Liars-worthy weirdness), and the taut, pounding "Freak Out" puts to shame most contemporary psych outfits. Now Hear This: Liars - "Plaster Casts of Everything" WINDOWS MEDIA HIGH | LOW | REAL HIGH | LOW BUY: iTunesAmazon

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