Tag Archives: 20th anniversary

Remembering My So-Called Life

On August 25th 20 years ago My So-Called Life pilot episode was aired for the first time in the US. I never knew the impact of the series in its country as it was broadcast here 2 years later by Canal +, the first private pay TV channel  in Spain, in free-air hours. The reception was quite poor because it was August, and being scheduled at 8pm wasn’t very appropriate either to catch the teenagers attention. Too many distractions and activities  better than spending the evening in front of a T. For no reason I was THAT freak. I was home alone for the month so I could watch TV, listen to music or do whatever anytime I wanted. Same as nowadays except for working.

my so called life

Up to that moment I had never been very interested in teenage “drama” series. If I had to enjoy an empty-headed series I’d choose Melrose Place over Beverly Hills 90210, with more adult characters, but If I had to get deep in shit, I’d choose classic Dynasty and Falcon Crest over any. Getting back to these teenage oriented series, none of them could catch my attention. However the impact of Angela Chase’s view of life was huge.

The story was happening in my time, we were in the same range of age, and being Claire Danes super gorgeous, we share that slob dressing style, with plaid shirts, XL tees… There were some moments I wanted to be her, and express myself as clear as she did in her thoughts or to her friends. I had never felt so close to some fictional character, with so much reality and deep thinking.

Hatred can become like food, it gives you this energy that you can like, live off of.

The coolest thing was that teenage drama was dealt in a teenage way. I mean, when you are 16 and your one-month boyfriend dumps you for another girl you reckon is hotter but never as cut as you, the world falls apart, and you feel like that’s the worst thing that can ever happen to you. When you are to date that guy you like so much and a damn huge spot sprouts in your chin and you even consider calling off the meeting.  Or when there’s no communication between you and your parents and they just don’t understand you. All things considered, becoming an adult is not as easy and irrelevant as many people reckon. It’s pretty fucked up actually, so in My So-Called Life you could see yourself reflected as in a mirror. And it worked as  some sort of painkiller, showing you weren’t the only one having complexes and insecurities and  low self-esteem.

jordan and angela

And then there was Jordan Catalano. Thinking of Jared Leto nowadays makes really hard to believe I had a crush on him, but yeah, I had it, because this handsome but not very smart guy was a symbol. Thus I sighed for Catalano, my ex was in love with Angela and secretly wanted me to be her, and I also wanted to be Angela because she was cool.

Unfortunately the series was suddenly cancelled, and apparently it had to do with the decision of Claire Danes to quit, leaving lots of open plots. Would the relationship between Jordan and Angela have worked? I don’t think so. At the end of the day he was a prick and she seemed to be more into experiencing and discovering.

Truth is that My So-Called Life marked a starting point for teenage drama series, with Dawson’s Creek as one of the most remarkable examples, but I was never into any similar story anymore. Perhaps I had already grown up, or just because the first time is the experience which will prevail in memory throughout the years. I don’t know.

rayanne and angela

Right now I’m speaking out of my memory, but I really want to recover the story of Angela, Jordan and Rayanne, and see how it feels being now an adult. I might learn something I didn’t notice back in the day. Who knows?

20 years of WELCOME TO SKY VALLEY

sky valley

Last Saturday I was reminded of the 20th anniversary of Welcome to Sky Valley, the third album of the Palm Desert band Kyuss, and this time it’s made me give it a lot of thought, and listen to it again. I’m not one of those who worships this band as if there isn’t anything better in the world and I’m not looking forward to witnessing a reunion between John Garcia and Josh Homme because I don’t regard it necessary. I don’t criticize Homme for forming QOTSA working hard to rise to stardom, but I do get upset with Garcia for not managing to keep a single project steady for long time. There was a time and a place for Kyuss, and for that reason this band probably achieved the status of underground legend, and if its members decided to split ways, I’m sure there was a good reason for that, so there’s no point in insisting on a reunion. Believe me, I learnt the lesson with GN’R some time ago.

I love Kyuss records though I hate the diehard fans of the band, no offence. In my PERSONAL opinion, they are often too narrow minded musically speaking.

I’d say Welcome to Sky Valley is not my favorite album of the band, however every time I recover it and listen to ‘Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop’, ‘Whitewater’ and ‘Demon Cleaner’  I must surrender and admit it’s a masterpiece. Thinking of the first time I approached it and Blues for the Red Sun in cassette, I reckon the experience was totally mindblowing. Kyuss opened the gates to another musical dimension for me, and I learnt to listen to music in a different way, tasting and enjoying the different instruments, both separately and together, feeling the different vibes and atmospheres created thanks to the changes in rhythm, the guitar effects, and the distortions, and I also discovered my favorite instrument was drums. Kyuss could make me travel in my mind (no acid involved), and I think it didn’t happen again until I discovered Monster Magnet’s Dopes to Infinity.

Moreover, it was the first band that I reckon I felt passionate for which wasn’t mainstream, highlighting the fact that in that day even Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam were popular on a global scale, broadcast on MTV and any radio station. In the past it was more difficult to get acquainted with cult bands, due to the complexity of spreading the word, and getting to discover overseas bands in first place, mainly caused by a period of isolation our country was forced to go through for too many years. Also the fact that not many people around shared the same interest in music as me made things a bit worse. Whatever, the point I really intend to make here is that Kyuss was an unknown band for the majority of people here. I was introduced to the band through my friend Pablo, and he heard of, or better said, read about the band on a magazine, so we didn’t know the actual impact and popularity of the band in the States and abroad. As far as we were concerned they were some sort of gurus, with all the Palm Desert scene, playing in the middle of nowhere, just surrounded by cacti, and enlightened by the creative and magical power of weed…or something like that.

I think the cult towards this band had to do with this mysterious halo they were involved, at least we perceived it as such, and the evocative music combined with wonderful hard guitar riffs.

scott reeder

I was talking about Welcome to Sky Valley, huh? Getting back to it, there’s one more thing. I’d like to give the credit to one of the most remarkable bass players in rock/metal scene, Scott Reeder, who joined Kyuss at this point, but I think he earned by far enough credit to be recognized  as THE bass player in the band. His style, his rough way to play, and his attitude just made it. We always focus on the roles of John Garcia and Josh Homme, comparing them to another rock couples such as Plant and Page, Slash and Axl, or Tyler and Perry, as they’re more remarkable and easy to identify and analyze, and after all, their current bad relationship with suing involved makes us all wonder what happened between them, forgetting the rest of the members in the band and their contributions. I couldn’t affirm which is the main Kyuss drummer though, Bjork or Hernandez, no matter their influence on other musicians after their contribution to the band, however, regardless the fact that Nick Oliveri was there first on the 4 strings, Reeder won his place in rock history.

 

ALBUM (EP) OF WEEK 4: JAR OF FLIES

I might sound a bit repetitive but sometimes my musical mood is unconsciously related to some kind of event or anniversary. I’m into Alice In Chains a lot lately, also recovering the old albums and EPs, some side projects such as Mad Season and Cantrell’s solo albums.

jar of flies

Yesterday it was the 20th anniversary of the release of Jar of Flies, the wonderful ep which followed their most popular album, Dirt. I remember it perfectly. To be honest my expectations were too high, as i had just discovered them thanks to Dirt, and my mind was still boiling in shock, thus reckon I was looking for an extension of the album, but this was completely  different and I felt quite disappointed. I’m stupid sometimes and I used to be even more back in the day, and more ignorant. I wanted something more metal, angry and aggressive, but Jar of Flies is a beautiful album, with deep lyrics and very introspective and depressive. I remember talking to a friend on the phone at my granny’s kitchen (how many hours I used to spend hooked on it!), telling him Alice In Chains had lost the vibe and that they would never recover the power of Dirt. Aaaah, how wrong I was!

When reading about the making of this EP, you realize it was never intended to be released on first place. It was a way to express frustration and depression after being worldwide touring with Dirt for some time and facing a rough comeback home, in the most classic way musicians do: Spending some time at the studio for the sake of making music together. But you know how these things go, and someone at the record label heard the acoustic versions of these songs and convinced the band to go on with the project. Perhaps that’s the reason why I, and many other fans, weren’t ready for a change in style, proving Alice In Chains could experiment with milder sounds and styles.

Nowadays my view of Jar of Flies has changed completely. It features several of my favorite songs of the band, ‘Nutshell’, ‘I Stay Away’ or ‘No Excuses’, and it’s the perfect vehicle to move from sick Dirt to dark Alice In Chains, both frightening, intense and heartbreaking. A smooth and brilliant transition.

On the other hand, it was released 20 years ago, I was 17 and was in my last year at high school. Music had become the most important thing in my life and guess I was finishing being a kid to become an adult, very immature and crazy, but more responsible and focused. I’m 37 now and I still keep features from that time, and music is still the most important thing in my life, I’m older, more responsible and focused, but sometimes a complete mess. Celebrating one of these anniversaries, again, confirms the passing of time again, and thinking I’ll be 38 sounds scary and fucked up at first, but I’m unable to compare myself to my old ones, because my lifestyle is very different, and my mental age reminds too young, and seeing friends and people around me, fortunately 38 doesn’t mean to be old anymore, so I prefer taking it easy.

I only hope I manage to celebrate another 20 years of Jar Of Flies.

20 YEARS AGO YOU WERE IN MY REARVIEWMIRROR

I’m quite sure some of you haven’t yet experienced the effect that the 20th anniversary of the release of one of those albums you’ve been growing up with can produce. Let me tell you something. The feeling is a sweet and sour combination, and sometimes it tends go beyond, because the passing of time reminds that you’re getting old as if it was a twisting pinch. You start enduring but then pain arrives, and it always lefts a mark afterwards.

Since the beginning of this decade this anniversary thing has turn into something very frequent (who the fuck says 1990’s was dead musically speaking?), basically because it was more than 20 years ago I sold my soul for rock, to avoid labeling, to anything which exuded energy and distortion, and was capable of impressing by already stimulated teenager state.

A huge wave of nostalgia invades me, because that was a wonderful time in which every day a new record or a tape felt into my hands, it was like receiving a huge present, my ridiculous record collection was my most valuable treasure and every band was like discovering an unknown galaxy. So young and innocent!

Today I’m celebrating the release of one of these albums, Vs, or untitled when I bought it, with the company of a couple of beers, turning the volume up to 11, and yelling with Eddie Vedder, with the same passion as back in the day, when I thought Pearl Jam was the greatest band on earth.

Vs

In that time I was still assimilating their debut album, Ten. I was recovering from their impeccable performance on the MTV awards. They played Animal first, with Eddie Vedder looking insanely rabid and Jeff Ament jumping like a kangaroo, and then they covered Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World with Neil Young. I remember it was awesome! Old and new generation playing with same passion. I knew about the imminent release of a new album, but it was Felix (hey Felix, where are you?) who reminded me of it. As I wasn’t informed of the exact date of release, and I HAD to have the album the very same day, with some dough I had been given for my birthday separated for this purpose, I started my daily pilgrimage to the record store, waiting for the arrival of the album, with a level of patience and determination which would have been very useful for other activities.

And finally, the day came, and the desired trophy was in my hands and arrived home. Let’s admit the cover is horrible, but that particular smell which my booklet still keeps intact, the artwork with the guns, the bullets, rats, needles, and those cryptic lyrics with unfinished sentences which seemed to be Vedder’s thoughts interrupted by who the hell knows. I didn’t understand anything, but it was awesome anyway.

To be honest before pushing play, I had a slight panic attack, fearing the album was a shit, or the band had lost their sparkle. What if I ended disappointed by my favorite band? This kind of doubt or fear, which makes complete sense, throughout our lifetime music experiences has become something real. Eventually I overcame this fear, and magic came back to my room, and I was happy again. How many albums you can list which can include so many different yet awesome songs as Glorified G, Rearviewmirror, Dissident or Animal?

I’ve been listening to this album a lot these past weeks, and recovering some memories from 20 years ago, and exactly related to October 1993, has been very emotional. Falling in love with someone you barely know, with a band, Pearl Jam, and this album, as the main connection is weird, but I was young, he was older (very very) than me, and reminded me of Eddie Vedder. I couldn’t help it. Oh, Felix! Where are you? There are so many stories I’d like to tell you about myself… Lost your track 13 years ago, you weren’t a bad boy, but never very straightforward either. Once you were in my rearviewmirror.

Aaah, life again!