So Howard Stern has been on vacation pretty much all summer, if not the entire year. And I probably shouldn't be listening to him with two kids in the car anyways. Whilst scanning the dial on Sirius Radio, I've recently come across a channel at one time I wouldn't dream of listening to: Lithium which bills itself as '90s Alternative/Grunge. I consider myself a child of the eighties. But the '90s is when I actually started going to a lot of arena-sized concerts. Largely in part due to large-bill events like Lollapalooza, I realize I saw many of the bands perform that I hear on Lithium. A lot of the songs I hear on the channel bring me back to Denver, Colorado where, evidentially, I spent a great deal of time in the '90s. Yeah, all I need to hear is an Eve 6 song and I'm right back working in the mini lab at Robert Waxman with my good friend Adam.
When I hear an obscure '90s songs I feel like I'm one of the guys in the beginning of Reservoir Dogs in the diner. "Hey I just heard 'Going the Distance' by Cake. Where where they racing? Did the guy ever go home? Or how about that other song? "Why did the guy want to move to the country and eat peaches?" The only difference is that I'm not sitting at a diner with a bunch of bank robbers. I'm just having a conversation with the voices in my head.
One Hit Wonders: Holy Christ, I had forgotten how many One Hit Wonders the 90's produced. Here's a few off the top of my head: Fun Lovin' Criminals, Cardigans, The Verve (or The Verve Pipe!), James, Edwin Collins, Spacehog, Nada Surf, Tracy Bonham, Tripping Daisy, K's Choice, dog's eye view, Fastball, Seven Mary Three, Vertical Horizon, Marcy Playground, Toadies, Presidents of the United States of America, New Radicals, Primitive Radio Gods, eels, Days of the New and Harvey Danger. You remember all these bands, right? Right? What are they doing now? Wait, don't answer that. I don't care.
this awesome song from a band called Geggy Tah? I do. Holy crap, the video has a little dog driving a car! OK, the '90s didn't suck that bad. Another great one hit wonder was "That Song" by Big Wreck.
OTOH, how about "Banditos" by the Refreshments? Was that band not the biggest ripoff of Cracker? Remember all the Nirvana clones like Oleander and that POS, Silverchair? The record companies were losing their shit trying to find the next Kurt Cobain.
And what about all those bands that sounded exactly alike? They were as follows: Dishwalla, Better Than Ezra, Vertical Horizon, Tonic and Semisonic. For all I know they were all exactly the same shitty-shitty band-band.
All I can say is listen to Lithium one day. You will have at least one, "God damn, I totally forgot that song existed!" moment. Trust me.
Did Anyone Survive? In my opinion, there aren't a lot of "alternative" or "grunge" musical acts that "survived" the '90s. Most bands if they are still together have been relegated to the state fair circuit or venues like Stamford's "Alive At 5". Who is still relevant? Weezer? Radiohead? Foo Fighters, definitely. And Green Day, but I hate them. I'm not counting any "reunion" bands like Jane's Addiction, Blink 182 or Soundgarden. If you quit, you quit. Assholes.
What's Good: All the Seattle grunge stuff is cool in my book. Nirvana's Nevermind has never sounded better. Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Screaming Trees. I have some all-time favorites that I guess I took for granted at the time: Verucca Salt, Garbage, Local H, Primus. The Prodigy is cool as hell. Did you ever see the unedited video for "Smack My Bitch Up"? (You may have to sit through a crappy trailer for a Jenny McCarthy movie but it's worth it. And definitely NSFW) Tool is wonderful, then and now. I even like some songs by Hole and Everclear definitely grew on me.
What Sucked Balls, Then & Now: Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, Sugar Ray, Green Day, Offspring, 311, Blind Melon, Collective Soul, Pearl Jam's later material, the vocals of Anthony Keidis. I have mixed feelings on the Smashing Pumpkins but lean mostly towards, "they suck" due to that awful, whiny Billy Corgan.
A closing thought: Here we are in 2011. So around the time I was in college and we were all having a good laugh, "Oh let's throw a 70's party" like a bunch of morons….Well the kids who are in college now, the early 90's would be like our 1970's. Damn! Where did the time go? Am I making sense? Are you thinking the same thing while you're mowing the lawn? Or is it just me?
PS: I really f*cking hate Pearl Jam. Except for a few songs from the first album. They suck!
PPS: I realize this article was long, but I have an unhealthy obsession with music, especially forgotten music. And I've suffered through your vacation photos and pics of your motorcycle on Facebook, so if you've made it this far we're even now!
PPPS: Whyizzit on a Sirius radio when you lose reception, it says "acquiring signal"? When in fact, that's the exact opposite of what's going on! The radio isn't acquiring shit! It should say "no signal".