I’m Now tells the story of grunges first super stars Mudhoney. It has all the big players from the scene Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Sonic Youth ect… Strangely it doesn’t feature any of Nirvana. This is an excellent documentary about a great band with an even greater sense of humour. It shows the band being what they truly were, which was down to earth and truly grounded bunch of guys, despite having an appetite for mischief and of course beer!! It also includes some not so nice words about the Nirvana camp. Excellent viewing.
Sell the Kids for Food
Probably the most controverstial entry… for those who like Nirvana….Guns…and…Roses..!!!!!!! yes that is correct. Guns and Roses. Again this might go against everything Kurt said and believed ect.. but when the Melody Maker famously claimed ‘Nirvana are the Guns and Roses it’s okay to like’, you know they actually did hit the nail on the head. There are an awful lot of similarities and connections between the two. Kurt was quite vocal about his contempt for Guns and Roses, and claimed “we are against everything they stand for” but this didn’t stop them joining the same record label!! There’s no doubt that Axl Rose certainly said some stupid things over the years and I’m not going to defend him but the similarities with Kurt are quite huge. Both came from small towns to the big city to seek solace from a troubled upbringing and both went onto express themselves with loud angry music. 2 angry mixed up kids making music, one was more classic rock and one more punk rock. There’s no doubt that Kurt Cobain had a more mature and wider view point than Axl Rose but that’s doesn’t mean we have to ignore the whole output of one band based on the views of its lead singer. That was one of the key features of Guns and Roses each member had a unique personality, like the Ramones, they were basically a cartoon band. Crazy front man, the punk rock bassist, the rolling stones rhythm guitarist, the hard rock lead guitarist, and the hair metal drummer. All the rock clichés are there but then again classic rock was always supposed to be a little cheesy. Guns and Roses connection with grunge ect was in fact huge with bassist Duff McKagan being from Seattle and actually being in a band with members of, the first grunge band (trademark) Green River for a brief period. When you put all the surface level attributes of Guns and Roses to one side, what you are left with is a band that both know how to play and more importantly how to rock. The similarities with Nirvana are pretty obvious, big riffs, big drums and big choruses.
Here's some punk for ya:
I’m yet to delve into the Deer Tick back catalogue so ultimately can’t recommend any specific album yet but I’m loving this tune which is of course very Nirvana like.
Whether or not Kurt Cobain did actually indeed write any Hole songs is debatable. The fact is the only great record Hole made was when Courtney was with Kurt, this fact is undisputable. The first Hole album, produced by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, Pretty On The Inside, is largely an average affair. Sure enough it does have that guttural Courtney Love roar which is without doubt the stand out feature but if you’re looking for memorable tunes it’s album number 2 where it at for tunage. For song writing ‘Live Through This’ really was streets ahead of ‘Pretty On Inside’, and is really the only album by Hole you need. The Courtney Love guttural roar is still there but with added tunes. The third, and lets be honest last Hole album, Celebrity Skin has its moments but some of it is just lacking. Billy Corgan would go on to claim he wrote the whole thing… make of that what you will… Some bands exist for just one album, Hole are one of those bands.
I'm not completely signed up for this band, there are a little bit too indie at times but this is a great tune. Yet more Nirvana influence from down under courtesy of British India.
You know your scene is in vogue when you’re asked to do the soundtrack of a major motion picture. Backbeat was the story of the 5th Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe, and tells the story of the early Beatles in Hamberg, with the focus of Sutcliffe’s relationship with Astrid Kirchherr. As far as these sort of films go this one is actually quite good. The sound track was provided by the Backbeat band which consisted of a who’s who in the alternative rock world at the time…Dave Pirner (Soul Asylum), Greg Dulli (The Afghan Whigs), Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Don Fleming (Gumball), Mike Mills (R.E.M), and last but not least, Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters). It’s basically a garage rock version of some early Beatles stuff that they often played In Hamberg.
Placebo’s arrival came with declaration that their music was a cross between Sonic Youth and Abba, which isn’t a million miles away from Nirvana’s ‘the Knack being molested by Black Sabbath’. Placebo’s music was definitely in dept to Sonic Youth but whereas Sonic Youth biggest selling album would only reach 300,000, Placebo would go on to have an album that sold 3 million. This was largely down to their 2 big singles ‘Nancy Boy’ and defining moment ‘Pure Morning’. Despite the fact I never heard anything from these guys that I didn’t like, I don’t think they have a go to album that I could recommend. If some bands exist for the sole purpose of creating one knock-out single then Placebo are one of those bands, ‘Pure Morning’ is very good indeed.
You’ll either love it or hate it, pretty much sums up Animal Collective. Maybe one day I will truly love Animal Collective. As it stands, I think they know how to make some crazy sounds which I appreciate but ultimately don’t love. Maybe the lack of standout tracks is the problem? Maybe the goal is not to have stand out tracks? Maybe I’m just too old? Oh well... here’s Animal Collective singing a proper song.
Pearl Jam..erm yes Pearl Jam!! For many people this entry might be seen as treacherous given Kurt Cobain’s view on the band. But Cmon!! If you like Nirvana chance are there’s plenty of Pearl Jam that will do the trick. Nearly all the kids I grew up with who liked Nirvana also liked Pearl Jam. In my eyes Kurt was doing what all bands tend to do and slag off their biggest rival. The debut album ‘Ten’ sold close to that of ‘Nevermind’. Sure enough there’s more classic rock to Pearl Jam’s music than Nirvana but that doesn’t automatically make them cheese merchants. There’s a lot to love about Pearl Jam, some great guitars, great vocals with some great lyrics plus many a great song. Kurt did later admit that he thought Eddie Vedder was genuine about the things he sang. ‘Vs’ is my go to Pearl Jam album. Apparently the title refers to some kind of rock rivalry…
Nine Black Alps arrived in 2005 taking the unusual step of being from Manchester yet absorbing more influences from the west cost of America than from their native hometown. Despite their American influences in Nine Black Alps still can’t escape that British indie sound. For those who love Nirvana, the first album ‘Everything Is’ is to go to album to start with. An excellent combination of Northern England and North American ie... Seattle.
There was so many Nirvana like sounding songs flying through the airwaves during the mid nineties with various degrees of quality. Some were just pure terrible, Offsprings ‘Self-Esteem’ or whatever it was called but some were very good indeed. One of those was Radiohead’s ‘Just’ which had passing resemble to the intro of Teen Spirit. For the first 3 albums Radiohead were a supreme guitar band pushing their songs into all kinds of amazing directions. ‘Just’ is a classic example of their ability to create anthem like songs yet still manage to cutting edge guitars that squeal.
I will be honest... I’m relatively new to Sleater Kinney. For a 90s kid that might sound odd but I guess unfortunately its true. As with a lot of bands I do actually remember the name but I don’t actually remember hearing anything by them, back then kids you had to buy every single band you were into, there was no Spotify, no Youtube, you had to get on a bus and go and buy the physical copy, no music wasn’t free then, you had to spend you hard earn cash, so before separating with your cash you had to be pretty sure you were going to like the album you were buying. So my first encounter with Sleater Kinney was with their ‘comeback’ album ‘No Cities To Love’. Even when this was released I couldn’t quite understand why a band I had considered such a minor footnote was getting so much attention. Well it turns out ‘No Cities To Love’ rocks and is on bad ass mother. It’s seems on further investigation most of their previous output does the same. Clearly I had missed the bus with Sleater Kinney… Turns out these sex bombs descend from Kurt’s old stomping patch of Olympia, Washington. ‘No Cities To Love’ is definitely one of my favourite rock records of the last few years but all their output should appeal to Nirvana fans. Its better late than never.
Daniel Johnston… the low-fi fans wet dream. If you like your music low-fi, and Kurt Cobain clearly did, then Daniel Johnston is the dream ticket. The early records are as low-fi as it goes. As legend goes, Johnston was known for handing out tapes which were record one by one, no multiple recording mass produce nonsense here just pure unfiltered DIY to the extreme. Such was the craziness of the music industry once Nirvana has broken big that DJ manage to bag himself a major record deal. Kurt Cobain was pictured at various awards ceremonies during the time with his Daniel Johnston t-shirt and maybe this was a key factored in him landing a deal. Whatever the reason it didn’t last long but he was unceremoniously dropped after selling only 5000 album of the ‘Fun’ album. Despite the fact the Daniel Johnston writes some of the most simple, honest, childlike and heart breaking songs ever his peculiar voice was never going to appeal to the masses. Kurt Cobain named ‘Yip/Jump Music’ in his top 50 album. Start there. If you struggle to ‘get it’ then I suggest you go for the ‘The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered’ compilation. It includes various alternate rock royalty Beck, Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev plus the legend that is Tom Waits..cmon Tom Waits!! If that guy is covering your song the surely you have something going on…
When Blur burst onto the British music scene Damon Albarn claimed ‘I want to destroy grunge’ which is a fair enough statement I suppose, set your stall out and all that. Whilst Alban used the grunge term I think he was referring mainly to the American dominance of popular culture at the time, certain in term of music bands. Sure enough to celebrate Britishness and all that is fine but to denounce all American influence was a little short sighted. Clearly Graham Coxon held different views. On their self-titled 5th album ‘Blur’ Coxon was given more creative control of the band and off went The Kinks records and on came Pavements et al… It turned out Coxon was a big admirer of all the same underground bands that Kurt Cobain championed. Coxon’s solo output is as impressive as his main bands but without any overtly pop stuff. What you get is all those great guitar bands but with a touch of eccentric Britishness thrown in. You would have to strap me to a chair to get me to listen to a full Gorillas album but I’m a huge, huge fan of Graham Coxons solo efforts.
Lots to compare here, the love of Leadbelly being the chief amongst. Kurt had a love of the blues which is well documented and only in the weeks before his death there was talk of him going to the studio of Greg Sage, of The Wipers fame, to cut an album worth of blues covers. The concept was not the first attempt, having earlier got together with Mark Lanegan of the Screaming Trees to try something similar. Whilst the first attempt didn’t result in the planned album it did result in Mark Lanegan’s solo career, of which we can all be thankful. The love for the blues and Leadbelly isn’t the only cross over between Nirvana and the White Stripes, the other and quite possibly a strong link between the two is none other the mighty Pixies. Kurt was very open about trying to rip off the Pixies, especially with Smell Like Teen Spirit, and his love in general for the band. A love so big he earned the nick name ‘pixies meat’ from lover girl Courtney. Whilst the White Stripes are celebrated as a band that made the blues cool for the new millennium, their best songs are actually the ones that sounded like the Pixies. Whereas Kurt was more interested in the loud/quite dynamics, the White Stripes actually sounded like the Pixies, no more than on ‘Fell In Love With Girl’. Both bands also has a love for making records without being over produced, both followed up their breakthrough album by going out of their way to make unpolished follow ups. Amen to that!!
‘Nevermind’ may have been ultimately the most important record released in 1991 but My Bloody Valentines ‘Loveless’ was without doubt the most ground breaking. A lot has been written about ‘Loveless’ and the way it reconstructs the way a rock album should sound, so I won’t bother trying to describe what is ultimately an indescribable album. One thing that is clear, this is a rock album, a rock album that’s all about the guitars. Another thing…its loud very, very loud. Often described as dream pop ect... dreamy...yes but pop…probably not. Early My Bloody Valentine tended to cover the same territory of Jesus and Mary Chain et al so they initially wrote more conventionally structured songs that could be described as pop, with regards to ‘Loveless’ I think it’s a bit a stretch to describe anything as pop. ‘Loveless’ is a beast of an album, maybe you will love it, maybe you’ll hate it, but as far as loud guitar records go, this rocks in its own unique way.
I will be very honest...I’m not a massive fan of The Vaselines. During the original first phase of the band, 3/4 songs apart, I they were pretty mediocre and without the intervention of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana the world wouldn’t have lost anything if The Vaselines has been forgotten completely. Some people point to the fact they were doing the low-fi amateurish thing first ect.. well I think that is debatable but they were certainly bands doing it better, most notable Guided-By-Voices. You can go and watch any young local band I will guarantee they will have at least 3 tunes. Sure the 2 albums they have released since reforming have gone some way to readdress the imbalance between output and reverence but the original phase is average at best that probably didn’t deserve the adulation. Each to his own I suppose. But those 3 songs are great pop songs that Nirvana made they own.
Despite the media frenzy around Seattle during the Nirvana/grunge explosion the band Love Battery didn’t seem to get much attention. It was years past the fact before they even came to my attention. Which seems incredible odd when you actually listen to them. Whilst bands as abrasive as Tad seemed to get more than enough media attention, it seems more than odd that a band as poppy as Love Battery seemed to be completely ignored. With the exception of Nirvana there weren’t really many Seattle bands that you could describe as Beatle-esque. Love Battery fall into that category. There is still a huge amount of fuzz but they askew the Black Sabbath, Stooges approach that most bands had and instead opt for the psychedelic tones of the 1960s. It is an often over used phrased when appraising bands from a previous era that they ‘should of been big’ ect, ect, which is very often not the case. One is thing is certain they come second to Nirvana for being a rocking Seattle band that crafted out and out pop songs. I don’t think Love Battery got their full day in sun their great songs deserved. Grungedelic!!!
For those who like Nirvana. 1001 recommendations/related counterfeits to brighten your day. Plus various vibrations of a different kind.