Saturday, July 12, 2008

Favorite Grunge CDs

OK, so Pitchfork kinda beat me to this (though theirs is only Sub Pop CDs). But I swear I am not copying their idea and have been meaning to post this idea for at least a week. As I get nostalgic about my childhood and early adulthood, I thought I would take a look back at my favorite CDs of the grunge eras. Couple rules here. First, I am going by what I own, listened to, or friends listened to. I am sure I am missing some great CDs that for one reason or another I have neglected to get into. Idea is not for me to re-evaluate the grunge era. Second, this is how I would rank them nowadays. So while I may have been a huge Pearl Jam fan then, I am not much of a fan today. My rankings will reflect current tastes and how I think the music has held up. Third, I am strictly somewhat close to grunge and not music during the time frame. This means bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Afghan Whigs are considered even if a stretch while a band like Pavement will not be included.

1 - In Utero - Nirvana

The only flaw I find in this CD is "Rape Me". Besides that, just a dark, sinister, and aggressive CD. Quite the artistic achievement. I still marvel that Geffen allowed them to follow-up Nevermind with this. In my opinion, the best CD of the grunge era.

Scentless Apprentice - Nirvana

2 - Superunknown - Soundgarden

Probably the band that most represents the trademark sound of grunge. With Superunknown, they traded up and showcased their Beatles influences, deploying some classic songs with a heck of a melodic touch. Their best CD and one of the best of the grunge era. Plus, Chris Cornell rules!!!

Fresh Tendrils - Soundgarden

3 - Nevermind - Nirvana

Ok, I know from a historical standpoint this needs to be #1. But focusing on the music itself I place it here. Though there are 2 factors working against it. First, I have a hard time placing 2 CDs by the same band at the top. Second, it's impossible to gain any proper perspective when evaluating this CD. It's become something revolutionary that changed everything. Therefore, it's impossible to feel the same way about Smells Like Teen Spirit that you felt that first time. For worse, it's a part of our culture and is about more than the actual music. Still, this is a truly great CD that sounds great. It seems like almost every song has me turning up the volume as I scream away with Kurt.

Drain You - Nirvana

4 Gentleman - The Afghan Whigs

That Greg Dulli could sure be a dick! Or I mean, he sure could write from the perspective of a dick. But he brought many facets to it. The straight up dickiness to the sensitive so I can f$ck you come-ons to the kick you out of the bed. I know Dulli and the Whigs were a polarizing band. But they did it for me. And while not exactly grunge, it's close enough that I had to include Gentleman.

Debonair - The Afghan Whigs

5 - LP2 - Sunny Day Real Estate

Diary gets all the respect (deserved I might add), but LP2 is the one that did it for me. Might like Nirvana, what SDRE spawned makes it hard for proper evaluation. In fact, some might end up hating SDRE for the whining emo rock that came after them. But listening to Diary and LP2, it's easy to forget that emo can be a glorious thing if in the very capable hands of a band as tight and talented as SDRE.

Red Elephant - Sunny Day Real Estate

6 - Bakesale - Sebadoh

Not sure if this exactly qualifies as grunge but it is close enough for me to include. This was Lou and Jason at the top of their game. I may prefer Bubble & Scrape but that's more a function of having Eric Gaffney's songs. They were close to stardom with this CD but just missed. But after so many years, this CD still kicks an unbelievable amount of ass. And that's from dorky guys in glasses singing songs about getting dumped or desperately trying to win the heart of that oddly attractive yet weird looking girl in the library.

Drama Mine - Sebadoh

7 - Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters

Dave Grohl has always been able to write catchy as hell songs. And while subsequent CDs aren't nearly as consistent, they are guaranteed to have a handful of insanely catchy songs. This was his chance to present his best songs he never got to release while manning the drums for Nirvana. I still remember when I first heard some of these songs - listening to some Pearl Jam radio thing - and being completely blown away. While I do not listen to the Foo Fighters much anymore, they are one band whose popularity I do not begrudge.

This is a Call - Foo Fighters

8 - Gish - Smashing Pumpkins

Those first 4 songs are still as powerful as the first listen. This was when there was still a difference between indie and major label releases. Where the mainstream did not really consider this a proper Smashing Pumpkins release. And before Billy embraced cancer sheik style. This CD just flat out kicks ass.

Siva - Smashing Pumpkins

9 - Cruise Yourself - Girls Against Boys

Another band that glimpsed at fame for a second before it passed them by. That was with their near hit off a different CD. Still strange to think they made it so close, with a 2 bass band and a singer with such a deep and cigarette and whiskey affected voice. Yet Cruise Yourself is a classic. I still listen to this CD from time to time and marvel at how well it holds up.

10 - Sweet Oblivion - The Screaming Trees

Truth be told, I'm a huge fan of Mark Lanegan. He's the rock god who never even became a rock star. And I will defend this CD to the death. It has hooks galore from "Nearly Lost You" to "Dollar Bill" to "Butterfly". In fact, I had to put this CD on as I'm typing.

For Celebrations Past - Screaming Trees

Honorable Mention

Dirt - Alice in Chains, Manic Compression - Quicksand, Ten - Pearl Jam, Siamese Dream - Smashing Pumpkins, Badmotorfinger - Soundgarden, Vs - Pearl Jam, Strap it On - Helmet, Congregation - Afghan Whigs, Singles Soundtrack


entertainment music grunge indie punk Seattle Nirvana Soundgarden Afghan Whigs Sunny Day Real Estate Foo Fighters Sebadoh Girls Against Boys Screaming Trees Smashing Pumpkins


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