Hole: Nobody’s Daughter


RIYL: Nirvana, Bush, heroin chic

Ten years removed from its last year, it appears that the ’90s nostalgia wave has officially begun. Alice in Chains pulled a shocking comeback last year, and this year will see the reformation of two of the biggest bands of ’90s alt-rock, Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden. The question is, what is driving this musical time warp? Is it the counter-culture – if such a thing still exists these days – rejecting the sounds of today, or a simple cash grab by the bands in question? The truth lies somewhere in between, but if we’re being honest, we suspect it’s closer to the latter than the former.

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That Hole is releasing an album this year as well is probably more coincidence than opportunistic timing. This is only their fourth album in 19 years, after all, so no one can accuse Courtney Love of having anything resembling a master plan. And goodness knows that she surprised a lot of people when Celebrity Skin hit the post-grunge wasteland in 1998, so with the release of Nobody’s Daughter, one is inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt – to a point, anyway. Sure, the album works here and there, but when Love tries to let loose on songs like “Skinny Little Bitch,” “Loser Dust” and “Samantha,” it is in the most mannered way imaginable. Indeed, her attempts to get snotty in that last song reveal Love trying just a bit too hard to be edgy, with the whole “people like you (fuck!) people like me (fuck!)” refrain. Frances Bean is surely in a corner saying, “Stop it, Mom, you’re embarrassing me.”

The album’s best moments come when Love acts her age. Album closer “Never Go Hungry” is a taut acoustic track – and curiously, the only song she wrote without outside assistance – that fits right in with her earlier work. The album could have used more of those and less songs like Linda Perry’s “Letter to God.” In the end, Nobody’s Daughter is slightly more than what one would expect from Love at this point in her life. Here’s to using diminished expectations to your advantage. (Cherry Forever/Island Def Jam 2010)

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Click to buy Nobody’s Daughter from Amazon

  

SXSW 2010 Quick Hits, Day 3: Hole

6th Street was filled with delightful sonic mayhem in the midnight hour, with music coming from everywhere. A sublime moment occurred when a drum circle’s thriving jam seemed to blend into the band that was rocking out at a nearby bar. Meanwhile, there was a huge line in front of the Dirty Dog Bar where Courtney Love and Hole were scheduled for a 1:00 AM set.

The Dirty Dog was jammed like a sardine can and it was amazing that a fire marshal never came in and broke it up, because there were way too many people in this place. It was apparently the place to be though, with the likes of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey watching the set from the side of the stage. Their entourage even got a security escort to the men’s room, which was probably the only way to get across the packed bar at that point.

Hole opened with a Nirvana-ish tune, followed by “Doll Parts,” which sounded great. The band was tight, but Love’s voice was ragged, which she unfortunately dwelled on throughout the set. The jam-packed conditions were rather uncomfortable for the first 15 to 20 minutes, until some folks gave up and left, at last creating a little elbow room. Love bitched at her guitarist for playing too loud, and harped about it being tough to sing at 1:00 am when you’re a chain smoker.

It seemed like she might call the set at any moment, but she soldiered on, with “Malibu” taking the crowd back to the mid-’90s for one of the era’s most memorable alt-rock hits. The new material had that powerful alt-rock vibe too, suggesting Love hasn’t lost her touch. “Gold Dust Woman” was also well-received, despite Love’s voice, which should have told her to quit bitching and just play through. But instead of acknowledging her voice issues and moving on, Love continued to dwell on it, constantly setting back the vibe of the set. “Worst show of my life. I’m so glad you were here to witness it, now go see a good blues band,” declared Love at the end. Her defeatist attitude and voice-ragging chain smoking sadly don’t seem to bode well for Hole’s big comeback.

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SXSW Music 2010, Day 3: Heavy Hitters

It was another day of highlights, many of them provided by female rockers who are out in force at SXSW 2010, which is great to see. But the day started with a great panel featuring Robbie Krieger of the Doors (fresh off his electrifying sit-in with Stone Temple Pilots the previous night). “When You’re Strange” featured Krieger and the current Doors manager discussing the upcoming feature-length documentary on the band that sounds like it will be amazing, with direction from Tom DiCillo and narration from the great Johnny Depp.

Over at the Belmont on West 6th Street, things were running behind schedule at the Paste/Sugar Hill Records/Vanguard Records day party, which enabled me to discover Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles. This bluesy gal looks like a cross between Sarah Silverman and Amy Winehouse, but she rocks! I liked her set better than that of the Watson Twins, the act I went to see. These girls are fab, but their new album is just plain disappointing compared to their great first album. The ladies still sound great, but the new tunes just don’t have the rich, melodic hooks of their debut, Fire Songs.

I caught up with Sass Jordan at the Canadian Blast party at Paradise on East 6th Street, where free enchiladas with rice and beans were served. She only had two acoustic guitarists with her instead of a whole band, but she sounded fabulous on strong material from her new album as well as her early ’90s hits “Make You a Believer ” and “High Road Easy.”

Then it was around the corner to Rusty Spurs, where Grace Potter & the Nocturnals followed up their stellar Thursday night set at Antone’s with another powerhouse set that rocked a packed crowd. Bassist Catherine Popper continued to show why she should win an award for best new addition to a band, while Potter won over a number of new fans with her sultry blues power.

Then it was over to Stubbs BBQ, where Metric warmed up the stage for semi-secret headliners Muse before a jammed house. The power-pop rockers threw down a heartfelt and well-received set that showed they can deliver the goods live. Muse then hit the stage at 10 pm and rocked the house in a triumphant set that was worthy of filling the slot occupied last year by Metallica. The Brit prog-rockers demonstrated a Metallica influence that they mixed up with Radiohead, Queen and Smashing Pumpkins for a sound that was intense. The laser light show was also spectacular, an arena rock spectacle in an intimate setting.

San Antonio’s Girl in a Coma were rocking it at Buffalo Billiards in the 11 pm hour, highlighted by a guest sit-in from none other than Cherie Currie of the Runaways for a charged rendition of “Cherry Bomb” that thrilled the assembled. Guitarist/singer Nina Diaz has a presence that just owned the room and this Tex-Mex grunge trio showed that they are just getting better and better.

There were many options in the midnight hour and 1:00 hours, but I passed on the easy path and fought my way into the Dirty Dog Bar for Hole’s late night set. It’s amazing that the fire marshal didn’t come and shut it down, this little bar was jammed well over capacity. The likes of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey made the scene, watching from the side of the stage. It was a claustrophobic clusterfuck until about 20 minutes into the set, when some people gave up and elbow room was finally achieved. The band rocked but Courtney Love’s voice was shot, which she blamed on playing so late when she’s a chain smoker. Maybe it’s time to cut back on the smokes, doll. She chastised her guitarist for playing too loud, and at the end she said it was her worst show ever. But tunes like “Malibu,” “Doll Parts,” “Gold Dust Woman” and some of the new stuff sounded strong. Someone just needs to take better care of herself, but it looks like that’s not going to happen.

Rain threatens Day Four on Saturday, so it will be interesting to see how the masses respond as the outdoor shows could become less attractive…

  

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