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Match 043:

Alice In Chains "Again" (1995)
Nirvana "Serve The Servants" (1993)
Pearl Jam "Off He Goes" (1996)
Soundgarden "Holy Water" (1991)

"Again" does not have good lyrics.  Most of the album it comes from does not.  They've never been Alice In Chains's strong suit, but especially since Layne Staley utilized a lot of free association and in his own words "couldn't even remember a lot of" them after they were recorded.  He wanted the whole thing to be loose.  He got his wish.  Point is, the lyrics may suck but the song does not.  "Again", if you can ignore the babbling meh, is a doomy sounding song with a driving beat, which is something there needs to be more of, frankly.  Most doomy sounding songs just plod; this one jackhammers.  And of course, we get close to peak Staley again, so baller points +2, yo.

"Serve The Servants" is the opening salvo in Nirvana's follow-up and farewell rolled into one: "In Utero".  "Teenage angst has paid off well / Now I'm bored and old" is the perfect lyric to start an album designed as a counterpoint (and perhaps a complete disavowal of) "Smells Like Teen Spirit".  And since I'm the 1,000th rock journalist to have written this exact sentiment about that line, I WANT MY PRIZE, DAMMIT!  BALOONS AND STREAMERS IN THIS BITCH!!!  Anyway, the song is not just mid-tempo, it's the perfect kind of mid-tempo that captures the exhaustion of what the lyrics are talking about.

I think maybe I got "In My Tree" conflated with "Off He Goes" back two entries ago.  This is way more laid back.  In fact, this sounds downright out of place considering the five songs that preceded it.  It's an incredibly straightforward acoustic ballad switching back and forth between C Major and A minor.  This feels like a counterpoint to all of "Vitalogy" in a way, being how...plain it is.  "Off He Goes" is really plain.  To the point of being dull.  Not like "Smile", which was a little dull but kind of on purpose.  This is the most simple thing Pearl Jam has done up to this point, and it doesn't fit.  It doesn't seem like it has a reason to exist, so why is it one of their longest songs to this point?  Even the lyrics are boring.  There's no brilliant turn of phrase, no cleverness in wordplay, not even an interesting story.  It's just...a song.  A dirt boring song with nothing to write home about.

"Holy Water" is the direct fucking OPPOSITE.  It may be a bit slow, but it adds to the heaviness.  It really feels like a giant vessel of Holy Water sloshing around and weighing down the protagonist.  "Holy Water's rusted me" is just a solid-ass lyric.  You can't go wrong there, especially with something as groovy and bruised as this (bruise-y?).  It's dark in all the right spots and contrasted with Chris Cornell being Chris Cornell, peeling the paint off of this oxidized oil tanker lost at sea (an image which plays well with the closer on "Badmotorfinger", "New Damage").  Plus the ending is tits.

"Holy Water": 4
"Again": 3
"Serve The Servants": 2
"Off He Goes": 1


Pearl Jam: 123
Alice In Chains: 119
Nirvana: 96
Soundgarden: 94

Tomorrow is the end for "Badmotorfinger".  Will they catch Nirvana?  Not if "Scentless Apprentice" has anything to say about it.  Stay tuned.


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The Grunge Match is suspended indefinitely.

I don't know when it will resume.  This hits way too close to home for way too many reasons.

As far as writing goes, I just did Match 112 Tuesday night.  I have no interest in going back through and making this a love letter to the departed, nor bashing him for tearing our hearts out.  I have no idea when I'll be able to even listen to Soundgarden again, and when I do, it won't be the fucking same so there's no way I can give any kind of objective rating.  Chris Cornell was the soul of that band, the thing that took sludge with a few acrobatic musical flourishes and made it into the hellfire slinging, metal rending monster that it needed to be.

So yeah.  This one hurts.  The man is dead.  The music remains, but is changed forever.  His friends, family and fans are suffering incalculable grief.  There's not much more to say, so silence seems like the best option.