25 Years Since Nirvana’s Nevermind

Do you feel old? Hell, I felt old when Nevermind came out! I was in a bar and had just graduated from law school, and Nirvana came blaring out on the speakers and all these young kids started going crazy. The rest is history . . .


Them Crooked Vultures: Them Crooked Vultures

RIYL: Queens of the Stone Age, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana

Ever since Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri parted ways, Queens of the Stone Age have been missing a certain “oomph.” It hardly seemed right to continue with the name anyway, since the dynamic between Josh and Nick was a big part of what made that band so great in the first place.

For now, anyway, Josh is putting the Queens name aside, even though Them Crooked Vultures could have easily been called a Queens record simply by virtue of the fact that Songs for the Deaf drummer Dave Grohl is providing TCV’s undulating rhythms. And although Josh is the dominant voice and guitarist of Them Crooked Vultures, to say that he is outweighed by the mere presence of his bandmates – bassist John Paul Jones and drummer Dave Grohl – is an understatement. But make no mistake, Them Crooked Vultures is very much a Josh Homme record. All the raunch and sleaze he brings to Queens of the Stone Age is here (sample double entendre: “Don’t hold it against me, unless it gets hard,” from “No One Loves Me and Neither Do I”), as is that magical de-wussified angst he does so well (see “Bandoliers,” an awesomely rockin’ breakup song if there ever was one).

But what distinguishes TCV from Queens is ultimately that rock-solid, locked-in rhythm section created by Jones and Grohl. Yes, at times it does kind of recall the groove of the groovingest Led Zeppelin, and Josh will occasionally match that with some Zep-like riffage. And though most of the songs are worthy of the musicians playing them, the record starts to drag towards the end… just like the last two Queens records. But this is a small complaint in light of the fact that John Paul Jones is playing in a kick-ass rock band once again, Dave Grohl is back behind the drum kit where he belongs, and Josh Homme is showing no signs of slowing down. Rarely does a “supergroup” get much better than this. (Interscope 2009)

Them Crooked Vultures MySpace page


Nirvana: Live at Reading

RIYL: Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, The Melvins

Although they’re credited with “changing everything” nowadays, more people remember remember Nirvana for the tragedy surrounding Kurt Cobain’s life and untimely death than their killer live shows. Live at Reading should help remedy that. This 1992 performance by the band, recorded at the height of their popularity, shows everything that was great, exciting and dangerous about not only Nirvana, but the “grunge” rock scene as a whole. Surrounded not only by unheard-of popularity but also rumors about Kurt’s drug use, his health and his relationship with Courtney Love (who just gave birth to daughter Frances Bean less than two weeks earlier) the group seemed to focus all that energy, both negative and positive, into what has since gone down in history as one of their best performances. Everything is perfect here, from the set list (which includes just about everything you’d want to hear), to the feedback-drenched guitars and an ecstatic audience that goes absolutely batshit crazy for “Lithium.” From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah was good, but Live at Reading is absolutely essential. If you were a fan of Nirvana back in “the day,” then watching live footage now sometimes usually be a bit of a downer. But Live at Reading is so powerful, energetic and flawless that it can even lift the band out of its own dark legacy. At least for a little while. (Geffen 2009)

Nirvana MySpace Page