Anybody remember the '90s? That was the decade, as a friend once put it, that the music we once loved was dragged into the street and raped. Yeah, pretty harsh, I know -- and damned simplistic in retrospect. But that was how we felt, as underground rockers in our early 20s, about the artists who figured out a way to sell a watered-down version of "our" music to the masses.
Green Day, Offspring, Courtney Love, Veruca Salt, Goo Goo Dolls, Weezer, probably another dozen acts whose names I can't even recall anymore. They were the enemy and "the year punk broke" was actually not an occasion to be celebrated because that was really the year punk officially was killed.
Of course, looking back, we were just cultists who couldn't deal with the natural evolution of rock music. Someone smarter than the rest of us all always figures out a formula for turning fringe elements of popular culture into a money-making venture. Hell, even the late great Joe Strummer knew it was time to change teams from playing in bar bands and join the nascent English punk movement.
Few have been better at cashing in than Courtney Love, America's favorite go-to trainwreck of the past decade and a half. I gotta believe Love's time is finally up. She has a new record that I'm pretty sure absolutely no one was clamoring for. Nobody's Daughter, in which she's still singing about torn dresses and Kurt Cobain ("I'm on the Pacific Coast Highway with your gun in my hands / Your whole world in my hands") and being a damaged lost soul, is laden with faux anger and Love-brand anguish. To me, it all seems forced.
But the worse offense is that the rock songs don't really rock (even when the vocals are pushed into the red, it sounds like a short cut to creating energy) and the mid-tempo melodic tunes don't really have melody at all. And sadly, the highly paid production team has carefully smoothed all of the music's natural edges. In the end, Love and her staff of session musicians (no members from Hole's previous incarnations participated) have a created a record without much personality.
And what's with Love trying so hard to sing like Patti Smith? Even when I was trying my hardest to ignore Courtney Love 15 years ago, I don't remember her trying to sound like anyone else but Courtney Love. Almost makes me miss the old Courtney.
Best song: "Samantha," the only song on Nobody's Daughter with some teeth ("People like you fuck people like me").
Deja vu: A less-compelling Kelly Clarkson
I'd rather listen to: Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl" single on a 45-minute loop
"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.
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