Skip to main content

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 043

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

TOTALS:

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Update Wrap-Up

Well, The Big Four Song Challenge Series Update has drawn to a close, and here we are in the aftermath.  Metallica edged out Megadeth on the strength of bonus material, Anthrax did okay and Slayer should have broken up when Jeff Hanneman died.  For real, all coming back with another album did for them was...well, make them money and allow them to keep touring and making more money, so there's that.  But more importantly, by releasing "Repentless", they dropped from two to three on my completely arbitrary opinion based blog series status ranking system!  Surely, that can't have been worth a couple million bucks?

Anyhow, I'm getting the feeling that rock music in general is going to need to evolve into something completely different or call it quits altogether.  Rock has had its 60 year run just like jazz did before it, and if it doesn't come up with something soon, it will fade away from the public consciousness, only to return in Gap commercials in the 2040…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - Conclusion

This has certainly been a heck of a thing.

Writing this started out as a labor of love to a subgenre of rock and roll that came along at the perfect time for me (both when I was entering middle school in the bottom 5 of the popularity pecking order and when I started buying albums at the impressionable age of 11).  It obviously took a long time to put together: August 29th, 2016 is when I began planning, May 24th is when I wrote the last entry, the wee hours of August 1st, 2017 is when I finished proofreading and uploading the entries to the blog with video links, and here I am typing these words on August 15th.

The elephant in the room is this genre seems to be built on death.  Three of the four frontmen of these bands are dead, one of which occurred during the run of this series.  (Shouts to Alice In Chains bassist Mike Starr as well.  R.I.P.)  On top of that, Pearl Jam only exists because the lead singer of Mother Love Bone died, causing that band to break up.  If you go down the nex…

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 185

Anthrax "Vice Of The People" (2016) VS Megadeth "Melt The Ice Away" (2016) VS Metallica "When A Blind Man Cries" (2016) VS Slayer "Pride In Prejudice" (2015)

"Vice Of The People" is the Japanese bonus track for "For All Kings".  Aaaand it starts with that doofy march beat.  Wonderful.  The lyrics don't do it any favors in the "I should take this seriously" department either.  And like most of the songs I've slagged in this Update process, it's not bad.  It's just so "...whatever."

"Melt The Ice Away" is a Budgie cover that was the Spotify exclusive bonus track for "Dystopia".  It's funny how the original Budgie tracks are often much softer than the bands that cover them and turn them into fucking barnburners.  This song sounds a little goofy in the vocals and lyrics department, but knowing it's a Budgie song, it totally gets a pass.  And unlike some covers of Budgi…