Saturday, December 19, 2009
NIRVANA – “BLEACH” (Sub Pop / Warners)
With more riffs than personality making it through the cheap production, Bleach is cleaned up and given the royal treatment, this was where the trail of 90s rock can be said to begin. With the Melvins influence still strong and before Cobain and co. allowed the love for pop songwriting to shine, Bleach is a orgy of primal chunking riffs and Cobain’s impassioned guttural wail still in its infancy and without the depth it would later possess. It’s a fascinating listen, an album never meant to be held in the regard this re-release gives it, yet the packaged with a fan’s sensitivity which never divests the album from it’s roots. Complete with exhaustive photographic documentation booklet the album is more interesting than essential though it does contain some blinders such as School, Love Buzz and opener Blew. The band are clearly tight and other songs so well-executed (particularly on the impressive accompanying Live in Portland CD which reinforces just how lucky audiences were to see the band live) that they counter any accusations of unnecessary polishing this 20 year reissue might engender.
SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE – DIARY (Sub Pop / Stomp)
SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE – LP2 (Sub Pop / Stomp)
At the other end of 90s Seattle hype lie Sunny Day Real Estate, one of the most overlooked bands of the decade, a band who got a profile boost by inadvertently becoming a pioneering band claimed by a nascent emo culture, a genre whose musical, lyrical and style motifs they bare scant resemblance to. Diary shows them far closer in ilk to Fugazi, Rites of Spring and Shudder To Think and makes a perfect flipside to the grunge hurricane that coalesced around but apart from them. Diary may yet prove to have an even longer-lasting and subtler legacy than these more famous mainstays; beautifully melodic yet furiously hardcore. Either way it is a brilliantly conceived album of fragmented poetry with an inspired use of dynamics and a rhythm section so good Dave Grohl nicked them for Foo Fighters within weeks of the band splitting, half way through the subsequent album LP2. With singer Jeremy Enigk not yet 20 by the time the Diary was released, LP2 shows the band sounding less convincing in their fury yet more concise in their songwriting. An album made as the band crumbled under the weight of expectation and internal divisions, a band so good a generation of disaffected youth used them as a pillar for a new movement.