My wife recently surprised me with tickets to the Smashing Pumpkins reunion tour, and as such I’ve naturally been compelled to revisit their catalog. For the longest time I’ve proclaimed that the band’s 1993 breakthrough Siamese Dream was my favorite Pumpkins album, but right now I’m thinking it might actually be Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
In October of 1988, Sonic Youth released Daydream Nation, an album littered with references to the speculative cyberpunk fiction of William Gibson. While I have never read Gibson’s work (though I have seen the god-awful film adaptation Johnny Mnemonic), it is my understanding that his writing predicted many of the technological and cultural developments we now take for granted, including the ubiquitous influence of computers and the Internet on our daily lives. Just as Gibson’s writings predicted these developments in technology, so too did Daydream Nation predict developments in rock music; if there is such a thing as “speculative music,” then surely Sonic Youth’s sprawling masterpiece (and really their early career as a whole) falls squarely into this category.
L7’s Bricks are Heavy came out twenty-five years ago today in 1992, the same year that I became a teenager. Needless to say, when I first heard the Los Angeles based quartet they were a goddamn revelation; my Midwest-living, Catholic school-attending ignorant ass didn’t even realize that women who liked heavy music existed, let alone women who played heavy music.
Sacramento was positively drenched with rain last weekend. The meteorologists called it an “atmospheric river;” I called it a great time to wallow in some seriously depressing music to match the shitty weather. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better band in 2015 to accompany overcast skies and sheets of (probably toxic) precipitation than Australia’s Weeping Rat. The band is set to drop their debut album Tar via the mighty Handmade Birds, and it’s a deliciously dismal listen, to say the very least.
I’ve been listening to various forms of heavy music for a long time, and as the years go on, my attention span gets shorter and shorter, especially when it comes to choosing bands to write about. Basically, if your band can’t pique my interest within the first thirty seconds of the first song (excluding intros), consider yourselves SOL. This has made it increasingly difficult to discover new acts to cover, as it seems that much of the scene is currently plagued by a complete and total lack of ability to self-edit.
During my misspent youth, I obsessed over so-called “alternative rock” almost as much as I did heavy metal. Among my favorites was The Smashing Pumpkins; the band’s swirling and spacey yet surprisingly metallic hard rock was like nothing I’d heard before at that point, and I found it much easier to identify with main man Billy Corgan’s nerd/asshole/hopeless romantic shtick than Kurt Cobain’s junkie poet. I might have had more Nirvana posters on my wall, but I listened to Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness way more than I did Nevermind.
In 2014, heavy metal wore me out. Trying to keep up with the seemingly never-ending flood of new releases and developments in the scene while at the same time attempting to allow myself opportunities to enjoy the music purely as a fan finally caught up with me, and for a good chunk of the year, THKD felt more like a chore than like fun. On top of that, the faux-outrage that lit up my various social media feeds every time someone got their feelings hurt was especially tiresome (although at times entertaining); as exhausted as I am, I can only imagine how exhausting it must be to be offended by everything, or to be convinced that other people are somehow out to ruin heavy metal for you.