Jazz music, news and views

Friday, June 08, 2007

Nineties Nostalgia

The recent Destination: Out poll made me nostalgic and sent me searching through my non-jazz albums of the era. Not having listened to much jazz until high school, most of my exposure to that decade occurred when it was nearly done. (And, like many jazz fans my age, I often feel like I'm playing catch-up with artists that surfaced any earlier than the last five years.)

Most of the other bloggers polled posted their follow-up reflections long ago, so excuse my usual tardiness. I probably wouldn't be the same without the following Nineties sounds:

Alice in Chains: Musical metal, more complex than most grunge or punk. Jar of Flies and their self-titled album were often in my stereo, not to mention the hallmark Unplugged set.

Deftones: Heavy drums, a thick wash of guitars and cryptic lyrics leaning towards free assocation made their sophomore album Around the Fur essential for me. When it was released, I went to a "secret" show in the back parking lot of my local Tower Records. (Tower, 'Tones and yours truly all call Sacramento "home.")

Nine Inch Nails: I loved the searing, overdriven Broken EP, but the dark, intricate opus The Downward Spiral resonated with me for even longer. (I even bought Further Down the Spiral on the recommendation of a rather obsessive former friend who was a NIN completist.)

Joe Satriani: I didn't even play guitar back then, but my friends did, and for some weird reason, I was able to find this stuff exciting. The Extremist had great hooks but sounded a little too Eighties to me. His self-titled album offered a more soulful alternative, and Time Machine was a real tour-de-force. (G3, anyone?)

Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream is still one of my top rock faves, but I also enjoyed Pisces Iscariot (the leftovers). Plus, I think I was enamored with Billy Corgan's image as a musical genius, to say nothing of that rich wall of guitar on songs like "Mayonaise" or "Hummer." It's also interesting to hear how elements of "Rhinoceros" from Gish remained such an important part of their sound for so long during their evolution. (For the ever-loyal Pumpkins fan, Zeitgeist hits the streets 07.10.07. I've also been losing myself in Corgan's rather confessional blog.)

Spice Girls: Don't laugh. Their first two albums were awesome. Now that the whole single-gender vocal group phenomenon has been hyped, dissected, parodied and discarded, their contributions hardly seem relevant. But after revisiting Spice and Spiceworld, I have to say I still enjoy those harmonies and that songwriting and production. And I never figured they'd have any currency in the jazz world, but Richard at Etnobofin recently posted a Lester Bowie cover of one of their sophomore album hits. (And to answer the inevitable question: Posh was my favorite.)

Stone Temple Pilots: Maybe there's also a jazz cover of an STP tune somewhere out there. The DeLeo brothers had some relatively harmonically advanced songs post-Core. Some might say their early career was spent in the shadow of Pearl Jam and their later sounds were overtly Led Zeppelin-ish. (Their cover of "Dancing Days" for the Zep tribute Encomium was fabulous.) I do feel Purple is Pilots in their prime.

The Sundays: My Morrisey-loving roommate never fails to say something (usually disapproving) when I put on Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Maybe they sounded like diluted Smiths, but I loved their breezy-yet-melancholy vibe. And in spite of its chordal similarity to "Cemetry Gates," "Here's Where the Story Ends" is gorgeous. Plus, who can forget their cover of "Wild Horses" from Blind? Ah, the wistful Harriet Wheeler.


  • At 6/08/2007 10:02 AM, Blogger etnobofin said…

    Like, totally! Smashing Pumpkins - I was never a diehard fan, (early Pearl Jam was more my thing) but if you were a certain age back then, when you heard Billie Corgan sing "Todaaaay is the graaaaytest dayivevanown", you knew EXACTLY what he was on about.

    Back then us kids didn't even have Facebook, how did we survive? Thanks for the shout!


  • At 6/28/2007 8:25 PM, Blogger Ralf said…

    I'm sitting here listening to your (far inferior - IMHO) replacement on KJZZ.
    Since I was missing you, I looked you up on the web and came across this post - very interesting and the overlap with my "family" (wife and I) is astounding.

    I have always been a big jazz fan, and my favorites overlap with yours to a very large degree. But going through you ninties rock nostalgia is almost eerie.

    In order: Alice in Chains - one of my favorites - the whole grunge thing really caught my attention, for some reason, maybe because it was heavy on guitars and sounded somewhat different than everything else ...
    Deftones - ok, have to admit, no overlap there, not familiar with them.

    NIN - my wife's all time favorite band - she has gone to 20 or so shows (dragging me to many). One has to admit, Reznor finds some good hooks.

    Satriani - I like hsi stuff, but it is a little too "lay down the beat for me and let me play my guitar for 20 minutes" in nature for me. Did see him last year at the Wiltern with Eric Johnson - who's Avia Musicon is in my top ten.

    Pumpkins and STP - agree - very good - Gish being at the top for me.

    Spice Girls - uh, ok, maybe I have to check it out ... uh, that's pretty scary though!

    Please let us know if you get another radio gig.

  • At 6/30/2007 5:07 PM, Blogger Kellen said…

    Ralf: Thanks for looking me up -- and for the kind words! Glad to hear we have similar tastes in non-jazz music, too. Even most of the friends I grew up with have "forgotten" this stuff. 20 NIN shows... Man, that's pretty serious. Nice knowing Pumpkins, STP and AIC still have a place in someone's heart, too.

    Will definitely let you know if I pop up somewhere else radio-wise. Thanks for dropping by!


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