Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bands of Our Generation

So I was up in the Dirty Jerz -- New Jersey for all you non-slang knowing people out there, although I think I may have completely made up the term -- for Chirstmas, as usual. And as usual I had to do the unbearable four-hour drive with my parents and brother. It sucks being squeezed into a backseat with nothing but the same stories my Dad has been telling me since I was five.

If I dipped, like my brother, it would be a different story. Somehow, someway, the kid manages to throw in some dip and spit in a cup the entire ride without my parents even knowing. I would do it, but that shit is nasty.

But without dip and having to amuse myself because my iPod got stolen about a year ago, I had a lot of time for deep thought. And when a Beatles song came on the radio, my Dad's initial reaction was "The band of my generation, the band of all generations." I agreed with the his generation part, and some of me said I agreed with the all generation past simply because The Beatles have been so influential for many other artists.

That discounts the work of some really quality artists. So I give you my list of the bands of my generation, which means from when I started listening to music seriously (for reference, the first CD I ever bought was "Dookie" which should give you a hint about one of the bands on the list). For each band, I will also include a quote from somebody who knows more than me about the band:

1. Red Hot Chili Peppers
I think they've cemented their place in history with Stadium Arcadium, which alongside Californication, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and By The Way, make them THE biggest band of my generation. Have they revolutionized music the way other bands like The Beatles, The 'Stones and Zeppelin have? No...they were just the best of one of the worst generations of music ever. They are the one band that has appeased the critics and the masses. From their early ska/punk roots of the '80s to the more mellow sounds of the By the Way album, the Chilis have encompassed so many genres of music, continually added new fans of diverse ages/races, and sold a shitload of albums all at the same time.

From Greg Tate of Rolling Stone talking about the album, Californication: "RHCP furthermuckers are now moving toward funk's real Holy Grail: that salty marriage of esoteric mythology and insatiable musicality that salvages souls, binds communities and heals the sick."

2. Pearl Jam
Obviously, everyone talks about the work of Nirvana when they speak of the whole grunge era, but I have trouble including Kurt on here because of his death. You need more than two albums to do that. Eddie Vedder is the modern day version of Bob Dylan, though. Too bad his lyrics will never touch Dylan's. You can't tell me you don't like "Betterman", "Alive", "Yellow Ledbetter", "Even Flow", "Daughter" and man the list goes on and on. Besides Bono, has this generation seen a better front man than Vedder, though.

Review of the Album "Vs.": "Terrific players with catholic tastes, Pearl Jam also serves up singer-lyricist Eddie Vedder. With his Brando brooding and complicated, tortured masculinity, he's something we haven't seen in a while ­ a heroic figure. Better still, he's a big force without bullshit; he bellows doubt."

3. Green Day
The definition of punk for our era, whether you like it or not. You can criticize them for becoming too mainstream but with "Dookie" and "American Idiot", the boys that are now men have two albums that will probably be remembered forever. Not too many bands can say that. And I'm not sure if this is a positive or not, but Green Day's music spawned the whole pop-punk generation which produced shitacular bands like Simple Plan, New Found Glory, and the All American Rejects. To Green Day's credit, they also can take credit for solidly average bands like Blink 182, Fallout Boy, and Sum 41.

Rolling Stone on Green Day: "Crude rhythms, rude attitude, pumping adrenaline and a loudly pronounced point of view are key. Once you get sucked in by that formula, any punk band sounds good at first – because the musical rush is so basic, familiar and overwhelming. That's also the reason most punk bands – and records – ultimately turn out to be crap. In punk the good stuff actually unfolds and gains meaning as you listen without sacrificing any of its electric, haywire immediacy. And Green Day are as good as this stuff gets."

4. Radiohead
These guys define the indie scene of our generation. There are many who will say the three above Radiohead on this list don't even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath with Radiohead, but I disagree. If Radiohead had hit it big, and say, the Chili Peppers were mostly underground, people would say the same thing about the Chili Peppers that they currently say about Radiohead. Most critics hate bands that get mainstream popular, because critics have to be unique in their opinions or else they'll lose their jobs. That being said, "OK Computer" "The Bends" and "Kid A" are albums that were came out of nowhere and featured originality unheard of for our generation. I don't think any of the bands on this list can say they influenced music the way Radiohead has.

David Fricke: "Radiohead try too hard to be nonconformist -- as if they're embarrassed to just be pop -- but ambition hardly makes them ogres. It makes them special."

Bono is probably the single most influential person in the music industry today. What he says garners interest and respect from all the leaders of the world. And in turn, his music automatically garners respect from critics and fans, alike. He's clearly won more Grammys than any of the artists mentioned above, but some of those were won on reputation alone, something that isn't really fair. But don't discount their musical ability. From "Joshua Tree" all the way to the recent "How to Dismantle a Bomb" album, U2 hasn't actually had something you could call a bad album. Frankly, though, they are on here because their leader, Bono.

Rob Sheffield: "Ever since U2 started making noise in Dublin several hundred bloody Sundays ago, Bono has grooved to the sound of his own gargantuan rockness. Ego, shmego -- this is one rock-star madman who should never scale down his epic ambitions. As the old Zen proverb goes, you will find no reasonable men on the tops of great mountains, and U2's brilliance is their refusal to be reasonable."

Honorable Mention: Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Oasis, Rage Against the Machine, The Smashing Pumpkins

I realize not putting Nirvana on this list will probably cause most music "experts" to not take this seriously. But most music experts are self-absorbed, pretentious pricks. I mean, seriously, they bashed Zeppelin in the '70s.

Oh wait, by saying all this, doesn't this make me a self-absorbed, self-loathing jackass like all of them? Nope, I'm a lot cooler than those tools because none of them would ever dream of putting a band as mainstream as the Chili Peppers on a best of list.

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