Browsing Tag

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Career Killers: “No Code” by Pearl Jam

There were several reasons why Neil Young got the moniker “Godfather of Grunge.”

His 1979 album, Rust Never Sleeps, featured a highly distorted guitar sound that proved to be very influential with several major grunge musicians, including Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder.

Young would become a close collaborator and mentor to Pearl Jam, performing, working and touring together throughout the 90s and 00s. Young even helped inspire the name “Pearl Jam.” According to Rolling Stone, guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament were already considering using the word “Pearl” in their band’s name, and after attending a Young show in 1991 that featured several long instrumental jams, something clicked.

But it wasn’t just his music that was inspirational. Long known as an artist who refused to play by anyone else’s rules, Young was famous, or perhaps infamous, for making music for artistic reasons without regard for commercial success. In fact, his label once pressured Young for a rock album and he delivered a collection of rockabilly songs (they didn’t specify what kind of rock they wanted). His label then sued him for making music that was “not commercial” and “musically uncharacteristic” of his previous recordings.

Pearl Jam would take a page from Young’s book for its fourth album, 1996’s No Code. The more experimental, less mainstream and barely promoted album ended their run of commercial dominance and abruptly halted their seemingly inevitable march towards becoming the biggest band in the world. However, it may have also saved them.

(more…)

Album Review: “Paper Gods” by Duran Duran

There are many ways to make a “comeback album.” There’s the “back-to-basics” record that countless bands and artists have done where they create an album that sounds like something they would have released during their heyday. Duran Duran did that in 2010 when they released the Mark Ronson-produced “All You Need is Now,” an album that consciously aped “Rio.” Another type of “comeback album” is the one released by a past-their-prime band or artist that is loaded with duets or collaborations with younger stars (Carlos Santana, more or less, perfected this with “Supernatural” in 1999).

Duran Duran’s latest effort, “Paper Gods,” is this a little bit of both. On the one hand, parts of the record are darker and more melancholy than most of the band’s 80’s-era catalog. Indeed, the album is more reminiscent of 1993’s “The Wedding Album,” which saw the band take a more mature and introspective approach. The title track, for instance, is over seven minutes long and contains this, fairly cynical lyric: “Bow to the Paper Gods in a world that is paper thin.” Meanwhile, the haunting “You Kill Me With Silence” is an uncomfortable listen, which makes sense considering it’s about how relationships are destroyed by a lack of communication.

(more…)

Shaq’s Rap Career: A Retrospective

Call it “The Day The ‘Music’ Died.” Tuesday brought sad news for the dozens of fans who loved Shaq as a rapper (more than few people bought his debut album, which went platinum and cracked the top 40 on the Billboard 200). TMZ reports that Shaq has called time on his rap career. “Would I ever go back [to rapping?]” asked O’Neal. “No man. I’m 45 years old.”

Looks like we’ll just have our memories of MC Shaq. He can rest assured that, compared to other NBA athletes that tried to rap (Allen Iverson, Gary Payton, Ron Artest, Chris Webber, and yes, Kobe Bryant), he has had the most success.

(more…)