I’ll get in the holiday season and give a thought to something Christians all over the world commemorate in the holy month of April: the death of Kurt Cobain and the ever-growing resurrection of Nirvana. It’s difficult to find even a non-single of theirs that is not known by almost everybody, especially off of Nevermind.
On a Plain is the song that always comes to mind when I hear that Kurt Cobain considered The Beatles a major influence. There is a lot of melodicity in Nirvana’s work and by burying it in punk whirpools, they achieved the sound that bears their name. That’s what this song is all about, sonically speaking. Lyrically, I don’t think we should look too much into it, because the subject is pretty clear: “It is now time to make it unclear, To write off lines that don’t make sense”, to which we can add “And one more special message to go, And then I’m done, and I can go home”. The thing we should remember about Nirvana is not how great (continue reading…)
With a Soundgarden reunion in the works, this is a good time to take a look at one of their non-single masterpieces. It’s no wonder that they agreed on this comeback only if all the original members would be in it, considering that each of them had an essential contribution to what this band is. Head Down, from their breakthrough album, Superunknown, is penned by bass player Ben Sheperd and, though in the neighbourhood of such classics as Black Hole Sun or Spoonman, it stands out as an unique sound and feel. It has the schizo riffs and the chainsaw guitars that defined Soundgarden and helped Soundgarden define grunge, but Chris Cornell’s possessed vocals and the ambiguous lyrics create the feeling of your little devil standing on your shoulder and whispering f#%^ed up shit in your ear: “We see you try, We see you fail, Some things never change”. The constant use of the first person plural enhances the impression that these demons are watching you, ready to settle in your body at any moment. The drumming filled with crashes, the absence of a genuine chorus, they back-up the evil chant quality of this prog-grunge masterwork.
Ladytron are one of those bands that seem to engage in a world of their own, that have such a well-defined sound that it’s impossible for their music to ever be outdated. Sure, we can call them synthpop or new wave or synth punk or whatever, but we all (those familiar with the band) know that labeling them is nothing but a convention. Any of Ladytron’s albums could testify for that, but I have to admit that Witching Hour has something slightly more mythical to it, maybe because you can find the band’s best stuff on it. Destroy Everything You Touch is, of course, the first to come to mind, but you can’t leave out Beauty *2 or the eerie good mood of White Light Generator.
International Dateline has an unique sense of immediacy, while being as melancholic as lovers saying goodbye in the wintertime. The punkish beat will make you expect someone singing “Here comes Johnny, he’s gonna do another striptease”, but that’s just one of Ladytron’s area of expertise: raw energy administrated through delicate means. This track will make you think of endings, but endings you don’t want to end. Facing the silence at the end of these four minutes is always desolating.