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THE GRUNGE MATCH - 064

Match 064:

Jerry Cantrell "Cut You In" (1998)
Nirvana "Something In The Way" (Unplugged) (1994)
Pearl Jam "Breakerfall" (2000)
Soundgarden "Birth Ritual" (1992)

When "Cut You In" first came out, I thought it was corny as shit.  I hated music with horns in it on principle (partly because of ska, partly because these instruments made of actual metal weren't metal enough).  It was a song largely about nothing or being lazy, using would-be buzzwords instead of being substantive.  But holy shit does that analysis miss the point.  It's supposed to be a toe-tapper.  It's meant to be catchy.  It's supposed to be fun, goddamit!  That was something I wasn't into musically in 1998; I was uber-serious with my rock/metal music.  So something like "Cut You In" took a year or so to wear me down into liking it.  It's got a groove, the verse drum pattern is unique, and like I said, it's fucking catchy.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the incredibly dour "Something In The Way", which I felt was too slow to get into because the only emotions I was into feeling in the 90's were the ones people would brand as "toxic masculinity" now.  (They weren't wrong about the toxic part; I was a miserable asshole back in the day.)  This is a good performance, less muddy than the original, though that's not necessarily a net positive.  This one doesn't carry the same weight of despair the original had; it feels like someone retelling a story they once told about their dire present circumstances after they'd been rescued from said circumstances (which, since Cobain was no longer homeless living under a bridge, was true).  Still, not a bad performance.

"Breakerfall" is the opening salvo of "Binaurial", and it's the first post Y2K panic song on the list!  This album came out in the spring of 2000, and by that time Nickelback was on the scene (but not popular yet) and Creed and Limp Bizkit were goddam annoying.  In this climate, Peal Jam released an...okay-ish record.  Even the band agrees this was a transitional album.  "Breakerfall" is a better song than at least half the songs I heard on "Yield", so that's a good sign.  It's short, but punchy.  It's a lot more classic rock-y than...actual rock-y if that makes sense?  It feels like an old band trying to prove that it's still got attitude and mustering up just enough to convince the fan base, but not the outsiders.  Considering Pearl Jam's first album wasn't even as old as it's namesake yet, that's kind of sad.  (Even if it's not a bad little song.)

"Birth Ritual" was originally released on the soundtrack to the movie "Singles".  Knowing that, I should have put it before "Superunknown", but for some reason when I ordered this thing seven months ago, I did this.  C'est la vie.  As it is, "Singles" was pretty important to both grunge and the phenomenon of the platinum selling movie soundtrack.  It's got two unique Pearl Jam songs on it, "Would?" by Alice In Chains, an eight minute Smashing Pumpkins joint and...Paul Westerberg, I guess?  This was around the time that movie soundtracks were seen as must-haves because of the "exclusive" songs, and in some cases (like "Singles") the album does better than the movie.

Anyway,  the song sounds like the exact mid-point between "Louder Than Love" and "Badmotorfinger" in both songwriting and production.  It uses Cornell's high register throughout, and it's a hard-charger but it feels hampered by a muted drum sound.  It's...fine.  A little long with not much going on in the middle to warrant a five minute run time.

"Cut You In": 4
"Something In The Way" (Unplugged): 3
"Birth Ritual": 2
"Breakerfall": 1

TOTALS:

Alice In Chains: 167
Soundgarden: 164
Pearl Jam: 163
Nirvana: 146

Soundgarden moves into second place while Pearl Jam slips to third!  Nirvana also picks up some much needed points to stay in contention.  Let's see what tomorrow holds!

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