And now for a (slightly delayed) stroll down memory lane… The sound of decades past.
Ok, ok, its not March anymore – so sue me.
Notable March 2009 releases:
Cage the Elephant – Cage the Elephant
Matt Schultz’s unique, in-your-face vocal delivery is what first caught my attention on this eponymous debut, and his band (which includes his brother Brad on rhythm guitar) is up to the task as well. They seamlessly blend Midwest rock with clear influences from punk, funk, even hip-hop on this album and brought something that was fresh and new that hooked me instantly. Now a band with superstar status, when this was released they were straight out of nowhere.
It’s hard to believe it has been ten years since these Bowling Green, Kentucky natives burst onto the scene with their infectious debut. Every time I put it on, it sounds original and yet like an old friend, simultaneously. With the exception of “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked”, “In One Ear”, and “Back Against the Wall”, of course. Those songs got so much airplay that although I still like them, they are the downers on the flawless album that I can skip over to get to the good stuff. And there is plenty of that.
My favorite track has to be their loud/quiet take on the “poor guy with an evil woman” blues, “Back Stabbin’ Betty”. That poor John Thomas, he just “wants to go back home”, and by the end of the song, he has done just that. Short, blunt, and brilliant – that is modern slacker blues, folks. “Tiny Little Robots” decries trust fund babies and others who have their lives set out for them, and finds Matt in familiar quasi-rap verse delivery. I could go on and on about this record, but will leave it with this: if somehow you haven’t heard it yet, go check it out. Even if you are familiar, it’s worth another listen – front to back.
Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/7H814Cg8HV0qpoMheYbhNn?si=6bgx2GsRSZ-U0HE7IYi7jA
Also: Filter – The Very Best Things, Chris Cornell – Scream
Notable March 1999 releases:
Silverchair – Neon Ballroom
When you think Australian rock groups, most don’t think of Silverchair. Often overlooked among their forefathers AC/DC and Midnight Oil, and even contemporaries The Vines, Silverchair actually have more #1 albums than any of their fellow Aussie bands. Daniel Johns and crew got off to a meteoric and early start: their raw, heavy, and amazing debut Frogstomp was released in 1995 – before Johns’ 17th birthday. Consider that for a moment: the kid who wrote “Tomorrow”, “Suicidal Dream”, “Shade”, and all of those rockers was still years away from escaping his teens. Although Frogstomp is a grungy classic and shows off the young man’s songwriting and guitar prowess, we are here to talk about their third record, Neon Ballroom.
This is the second best of their five albums, if you ask me. Sure, it consists of brooding, dark, and heavy rock songs, but it has more range than their first two albums. Songs like “Ana’s Song (Open Fire)” show off Daniel’s ability to do more than rock – the man can write as well. Still only 20 years old when this album was released, this mega-hit touches on his battles with anorexia and is so catchy that rock radio couldn’t stop playing it. At the time this song’s ubiquity annoyed me – I just wanted to hear more of “Anthem for the Year 2000”, damnit! – but there is no mistaking that this is a beautiful song that may be their post-Frogstomp crowning achievement.
“Anthem…” was one of those songs that hooked me the first time I heard it. It was angry, ominous, and that siren effect in the background just fit perfectly for our anxious Y2K, dot-com bubble summer. Of course it is dated now (that’s what happens when you name a song after the year subsequent to its release), but I posit that this thing still kicks a lot of ass.
There are softer moments on this album, although nearly all of them still feature Daniel’s sludgy yet polished guitar work. Some work better than others, and “Steam Will Rise” and “Do You Feel the Same” are among my favorites of the several songs with 80s and/or emo vibes. The piano-driven “Miss You Love” also earned some time on the radio and is an acquired taste, but does prove my point that this record has something for everyone.
Sadly, only three years after this album’s release the band went on hiatus as Daniel’s arthritis prevented him from the rigors of playing guitar nightly on tour. They came back for 2007’s Young Modern and then disbanded once more. He still makes music as half of The Dissociatives.
Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/10bobqzP8mtragmflBolOM?si=4Yvq7tW1SWC6VjDqFKwLag
Also: Wilco – Summerteeth, The Matrix Soundtrack, Static-X – Wisconsin Death Trip
Notable March 1989 releases:
Madonna – Like a Prayer, White Zombie – Make Them Die Slowly
Notable March 1979 releases:
Notable March 1969 releases:
James Brown – Say It Loud, I’m Black And I’m Proud, The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground, Dusty Springfield – Dusty in Memphis