Tag Archives: Soundgarden

ALBUM OF WEEK 3: DOWN ON THE UPSIDE

Down on the Upside

Since my disappointment caused by their performance at Sonisphere Festival, in May last year, I’m not into Soundgarden anymore. Not that I deny their old stuff, but my current interest in them is non-existent. I know the location, a colossal esplanade in the middle of nowhere in Getafe, and the huge distance to the stage, are to be blamed for that, still they didn’t transmit what I was looking for, and found them too cold, as if they weren’t Soundgarden for real. To be honest, I haven’t listened to their last album release yet. I’m not in the mood.

Back in the day Badmotorfinger and their popular work Superunknown were the albums which called my attention. Black Hole Sun was nonstop broadcast on MTV and became remarkably popular. In those days, the hegemony of the Seattle sound (or grunge, up to you) was hard-fought among awesome bands which nowadays we consider them as classics, you know, Pearl Jam and Nirvana were the most distinguished and popular worldwide, and then there were Soundgarden, Alice in Chains or Screaming Trees, darker, harder and definitely for a more selective audience. Remember I always speak from my heart, so do not be offended if I consider these last bands mentioned superior to the other ones. For many years I used to think Pearl Jam were the best band on Earth but, as my musical taste evolved and took shape, I started flirting with many other bands.

My all time favorite Soundgarden album was Badmotorfinger. Rough, wild, insane, heavy. I see much Black Sabbath influence in its songs, and I’d reckon it was unconsciously an appetizer to what was to hit us in the face, stoner rock. Perhaps, this is the reason why I didn’t pay much attention to Down on the Upside when it was released. In 1996 I was listening to Black Sabbath and Kyuss like craze, flipping with John Garcia and Josh Homme, and thinking that sound was the perfect combination for what I needed, plus it was completely unknown by people around me, so it was kind of special to be away from mainstream.

Thus, when Down on the Upside was released, I didn’t have time to spend in listening to an album from a band which wasn’t fresh nor wild anymore, there were many other interesting bands I was focused on. That’s what I thought, meh!

Of course there were singles which I enjoyed at that time, but the proper moment to discover Down on the Upside didn’t arrive till 2005 or so, when someone gave me this album as a present, insisting it was his Soundgarden personal favorite. I had to trust him, there was no other chance. And yes, he was right, it’s probably their most complete album up to date.

soundgarden

Songs are more experimental, perhaps further than expected from Thayil’s earlier killer riffs, lackin of their genuine rage, however, delivering more sophisticated compositions, with innovative arrangements and providing a lysergic tone to the songs. Nevertheless even though there’s a great production work carried out by themselves, their sound is raw and very straight.

It’s hard to think the creation of this album eventually finished with the band splitting, as it really sounds convincing and really everything put together. It’s a very well cooked album.

The list of singles could be closed to the whole album, still I have to mention Pretty Noose, Burden in my Head or Blow Up The Outside World. This album is simply epic. One of those you never get bored with, plus with every listening new details are discovered. Thrilling!

Thus whenever I’m asked which of their alums I like most, I usually start burning my head trying to submit the right choice. It’s Badmotorfinger for personal reasons, and a more metal sound, but also Down on the Upside is a terrific album which should be praised once and for all.

But let’s stop talking because I need to have some sleep. Try to listen to this album with the headphones. It is GREAT! If you’ve never done it before, I’m positive you’r gonna love it. AAh, jealous!

SINGLES, THE PORTRAIT OF A GENERATION

I’ve heard this morning that the 20th anniversary of the release of Cameron Crowe’s film Singles had been early this week. Unbelievable! This is the kind of things which make me realize I’m not a youngster anymore, and at the same time, the awareness of this fact also invades me with nostalgic memories.

I don’t know how much you’re familiarized with this film, catching a moment of emotional mess  in the lives of a group of six friends in their 20s, living in Seattle. It is basically a cakey compilation of love stories, with one of these generational stunning casts, including Matt Dillon, Bridget Fonda, Campbell Scott, Bill Pullman and Eric Stolz. And the added value of guest appearances which had to do with the current local heroes at that time.

To be honest, not only the plot is quite simple but also the movie is not big deal. It’s nice and entertaining but it’s not overwhelming. However the great achievement by Crowe was to portrait a generation of American youth in that time, affected by a wave of pessimism caused by the Persian Gulf War, which in a way awoke the ghosts from Vietnam.  And more accurately, he approached the grunge movement in Seattle, the epicenter.

 It took quite a long time to release the film in order to find the most suitable marketing strategy. The big bosses were confused about the bait to attract the audience. Love? Seattle? The voice of a generation? Grunge? Singles eventually saw the light in September the 18th 1992. Here in Spain things took even longer time and the film was released the year after in August, worse timing ever as most Spanish people are away on holidays, so it just lasted one week in cinemas and Singles was unnoticed.

Cameron Crowe has a taste for romantic and mild stories, but also, and this is what makes his movies worth watching from my own point of view, the director is a music lover, and the soundtracks are essential in his films. They are awesome.

What happened to the Americans with Singles and its soundtrack, was the same which occurred here. Officially the soundtrack of the film was released about 2-3 months before the film was released. It included songs from the hottest bands in Seattle: Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins and Screaming Trees. The first ones released two songs for the film, Breath, and my personal favorite, State of Love and Trust. Chris Cornell also recorded the wonderful Seasons, and the presence of Nancy and Anne Wilson (Heart) as The Lovemongers was also remarkable. This soundtrack was a compilation of the current Seattle scene of the time, and it was the final push to consolidate grunge and turning it into mainstream.

As commented before, Singles was released in Spain in summer 1993 which was a complete disaster. All of my gang, approx 20 boys and girls, were on holidays, and never heard of Singles in town. It took more than half a year to be re-released for just one week again and it was in English with subtitles, something unbelievable in that time, which made the whole experience even more exciting so we could hear “their” voices for real.

Therefore, in early Spring 1994, a gang of 20 went to Eliseos movie theater in our coolest outfits to watch Singles. You can imagine, wool hats, plaid t-shirts, Doc Martens, XL tees with our bands there… it was like attending a live concert. By then we had learnt the soundtrack by heart, thus when we were hearing Nearly Lost You or Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns subtly, we were all singing low. And we were out of control when Eddie Vedder (I was in love with him for many years) and Chris Cornell were appearing. I think we really didn’t pay so much attention to the film because when it was over we thought it was one of the best movies ever, and we were hugging each other as if congratulating for sharing the experience. I kept the film advertisement on the local newspaper for ages. We were 17. We were a bunch of teenagers, genuinely innocent and easily affected, crazy about our most recent discovery and passion: rock, and Singles was the peak of it. And we all were trying to start our bands hahahah

Few years later the gang was missing members day by day, and everybody grew up and moved on.  Most of them are into music, but we’ve separated paths and our tastes are different. We are spread in the world, some are married, some have kids, guys cut their hair, girls left their Martens in their wardrobes… Still in touch with some of them, but in the distance.  Probably I’m closer to what I was back then than the rest of my friends, and it’s funny, because I wasn’t the coolest, nor the toughest, not the most badass in the gang. The truth is that I’m still devoted to rock and music, even more committed than I was as a teenager.

Anyway, at the end of the day what Singles really means to me is the tangible summary of the most intense period in my life, when I started being myself, growing up, taking decisions, getting acquainted with many things, experiences… Singles is the witness of my lifetime choice. Positive, one of the best times in my life.

(*) Johanssen, Vane and Lorenza, hope you read this. I love you!

THE NIGHT I TRIED TO QUIVER

And finally, last Friday night I was able to pay my respects to one of my favorite all time bands, Soundgarden. I would have preferred seeing them at a proper venue, but I had to move my ass to Sonisphere in Getafe. Thanks  to Orange Goblin, good ol’ pals from my London years, I got a freebie for me and Kiko for Friday, thus I can’t complain by all means.

It’s hard to admit the experience, although worth living, it wasn’t magical. Such great expectations didn’t allow me to consider a possible letdown. Guess this can happen when you idolize a band half your life, and once again, my theory or, better said, dislike, towards band reunions, has been reminded  and confirmed.

As the saying goes, third time’s lucky, it took me almost 20 years to see Soundgarden.

First attempt was when they were opening for Guns n’ Roses together with Faith No More. The show was cancelled due to aluminosis affecting the stadium structure. Sorry I can’t find any translation, basically the inner structure, the basis was literally disintegrating, due to bad quality of concrete.

Second trial was in 1996. Soundgarden and Corrosion of Conformity supporting Metallica. Dani, my boyfriend Joe and I, were in the middle of the bus ride to Donosti, North Spain, in an organized expedition. We liked Metallica, but weren’t huge fans, the target was Soundgarden. Having some beers on the coach, chatting with other people, all of a sudden awful news is revealed: it’s a pity Soundgarden have been cancelled and aren’t playing tonight.

WTF??? Our faces were twisted in shock and despair. We hadn’t heard of it before. What would we do? I had the quick though of asking the driver to stop the bus and try to make it home myself, but we were in the middle of nowhere, and hitchhiking wasn’t an option. Thus there we were, sad and frustrated, at least we enjoyed the great performance of COC in first rows, close to the stage, but with Metallica I did realize they are not my cup of tea. Of course I like some of their hits, but no, I’m not into them. I got bored after 40 minutes and got pissed drinking liters of kalimotxo.

I had been listening to Soundgarden intensely for the past weeks, not only their masterpiece Badmotorfinger but also focusing on Down on the Upside and Louder than Love. Yeah, I’ve been nervous and excited for at least two weeks.

I hate macro festivals, for many reasons: poor organization, hordes of people, watered down beer, and disgusting toilets, and what is worse, huge distance from the stages to first rows, now extended due to these VIP black circles, and frequent sound issues. At Sonisphere a new inconvenience was added: problems with 3G and mobile signal, well, communications almost down to none. Ridiculous!

It was past midnight when the general buzz turned silent with the intro of Searching with my Good Eye Closed. I reckon sound was awful, but I was delighted such an atmospheric and trippin’ song was the starter, followed by Spoonman and the powerful Jesus Christ Pose.

However, in my humble opinion, adding Gun was a mistake, because it changed  the rhythm radically ending with the initial euphoria abruptly. Not an appropriate song for a fest. It’s like I got a bit unfocused. Fortunately it was fixed with Blow Up the Upside World and amazing Fell on Black Days. Yep, at this point I dropped a couple of tears.

I don’t think the set list was so bad, however the order of songs wasn’t chosen very wisely. Ups and downs, 3 top hits as Outshined, Rusty Cage and Black Hole Sun, one after another, instead of approaching the possibility of better combinations, the horrible new single, Live to Rise, which wasn’t necessary, almost at the end of the show, and Slaves & Bulldozers, a personal favorite, for closing the set.

I’m taking a deep breath to talk about my feelings right now, because they are messed up.

Yeah! I can tick my personal musical To-Do List and now I can say I saw Soundgarden. I’m also aware of the passing of time, and I already knew I wasn’t to enjoy one of their early 90’s shows in Settle either. I love most of the songs they played, but something didn’t work as I expected, and it wasn’t a blast.

Fuck my life! It wasn’t a blast, and it took me one day to evaluate the show, gather my memories bathed in beer, recover the set list, which you can listen here, and analyze why the fuck this is not going to be included in my top 5 2012 live shows.

Cameron was a machine, Cornell’s voice was much more than decent, and in general everything was fine, but no, everything was too cold for me, too distant, and when this happens I’m unable to dive and integrate in the show itself.

I’ve had this sweet and sour feeling twice already this year, first time with Manic Street Preachers, and now with Soundgarden. Now my belly is having bumps, afraid this happens with The Afghan Whigs on Thursday. I could not endure another disappointment at the same level. Dulli and company, you’re my only hope!

The night I tried to quiver, I ended up frustrated. What a shame!

HEATING ENGINES, SPINNING THE BLACK CIRCLE

I knew upcoming Easter was gonna be a blast. What I couldn’t imagine was that the party would start yesterday…and honestly, it was a blast. Nothing really outstanding, just four old close friends gathered having few beers…or so we thought. Can’t recall how many I had, but I reckon as for the increasing tone of our conversations they were many. Couldn’t stop laughing for 5 minutes!

So today, here I am recovering from a massive hangover.

I have two kinds of hangover: the deppresive one, not feeling like doing anything but laying on the couch in a vegetative stage usually accompanied with a feeling of sadness or nostalgia, and the cheerful one, being very pro-active, listening to music and feeling great for the night before.

Fortunately I’m passing through the second one, with the thought that tonight is also gonna be amazing, with the dj’n session and surrounded by several friends who have confirmed their assistance.

Having such positive expectations and being in high spirits despite the awful weather outside, I’ve spent the morning playing vinyls out loud.

Gotta admit there’s been another target, apart from giving me a treat. There are a bunch of skaters in the flat next door, spending the week on holidays, making lot of noise, breaking glass bottles and shouting all the bloody time. Today they’re bored, they cannot skate for the asphalt is wet and it’s raining, and no matter you might think I’m a bitch, now it’s my time for revenge and it’s my way to say: fuck you, assholes! I’m gonna try you hardly can sleep this morning.

The soundtrack for today, only in vinyl, has been this:

  • BADMOTORFINGER – SOUNDGARDEN (yellow vinyl, hypnotic)
  • QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
  • GRANDE ROCK – THE HELLACOPTERS
  • THE BLACK HALOS
  • RESPECT THE ROCK – THE HELLACOPTERS/GLUECIFER
  • DAMNED DAMNED DAMNED – THE DAMNED  (OMG, vinyl in blue!)

There’s still a long evening ahead, and I gotta prepare all the stuff for the session, so I think I will play some more blackies…I’m so glad when I see them spinning!