Wednesday, August 27, 2014

#87: Smashing Pumpkins-Cherub Rock (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "Cherub Rock"
Artist: Smashing Pumpkins
Release Date: July, 1993
From The Album: Siamese Dream (1993)

Quick Take: It's appropriate that Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin starts off this song with a circus drum roll, it being the lead track to the Siamese Dream album. Like all the rest on that record, "Cherub Rock" was actually recorded by himself and Billy Corgan alone, Corgan believing that the other members weren't yet up to his dreamed-of standards. Whatever the rationale, as a twosome Corgan and Chamberlin created a brilliant single -- while others from Siamese Dream would end up breaking the band into the big time, "Cherub Rock" smokes with searing passion and performance. In part this has to do with the lyrics, a wickedly hilarious slam against what Corgan considered small-minded indie rock culture (a sentiment pretty much returned in kind) couched in his preferred metaphor-via-obsessive self-focus. If it was just this it might not have amounted to as much, but with a dramatic, rushed intro, a blasting, flowing central riff with overdub on top of overdub (Butch Vig's production skills are clear throughout) and a Mick Ronson-in-overdrive solo on top of everything else, "Cherub Rock" does just that. It rocks, and rocks hard.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

#88: Social Distortion-Ring Of Fire (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "Ring Of Fire"
Artist: Social Distortion
Release Date: March, 1990
From The Album: Social Distortion (1990) 

Monday, August 25, 2014

#89: The Jesus and Mary Chain-Just Like Honey (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "Just Like Honey"
Artist: The Jesus & Mary Chain
Release Date: September, 1985
From The Album: Psychocandy (1985)

Quick Take: With its "Be My Baby" drum beat that sounds as if it is crying out from a torture chamber, this feedback and drone-soaked, Phil Spector wall-of-sound-gone-sour number opened the Jesus & Mary Chain's important 1985 debut album, Psychocandy. The early single and "buzz saw guitar" number was a defining track for brothers Jim and William Reid and the noise pop genre. Its refrain is a sweet as sugar "just like honey" with a high background vocal attached; the line preceding it is a bit more harsh: "Eating up the scum is the hardest thing for me to do." Sweet irony is the name of the Mary Chain's weird game; drink it in and it goes down just fine.

Friday, August 22, 2014

#90: Alice In Chains-Man In The Box (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "Man In The Box"
Artist: Alice In Chains
Release Date: March, 1991
From The Album: Facelift (1990)

Quick Take: An often overlooked but important building block in grunge's ascent to dominance, Alice in Chains' "Man in the Box" hit the MTV airwaves in heavy rotation in 1990, approximately one full year before Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." The sepia-toned video depicted a hooded figure wandering around a barnyard while the band played nearby; at the end of the video, the figure drew back his hood to reveal a Christ-like face whose eyes were sewn shut with thick cords, making the chorus line, "Feed my eyes/Now you've sewn them shut," into a sudden and shocking visual reality. More metallic than many of their Seattle colleagues, and thus a better fit for MTV's programming at the time, Alice in Chains nonetheless resembled little else in hard rock's mainstream at the time. "Man in the Box" wasn't flashy, up-tempo, hedonistic, or really even aggressive; although its melody was memorable, it wasn't pop-metal and it had no roots in thrash. Instead, the song was a simple, lumbering beast, its sonic textures thick and muscular, its anger more sullen and introspective. As the title suggests, the atmosphere of "Man in the Box" is claustrophobic and bleak, never making the source of its discomfort explicit ("I'm the dog who gets beat/Shove my nose in shit") but rendering the overall impression with a sick intensity. Minimalistic at a time when few metal bands cared to explore such territory, "Man in the Box" is mostly built around a simple, chugging one-chord riff that runs through the opening hook and verses -- it's a two-note chord harmonized with the minor seventh instead of the standard fifth (the notes E and D instead of E and B). This produces a queasy dissonance, close to what the ear expects to hear, yet just far enough away for the listener to register that something isn't quite right. The song's slow, creeping melodies float over guitarist Jerry Cantrell's grinding and shuffling, sounding eerie and disturbing. This is especially true on the wordless opening melody, where Layne Staley's peculiar, tensed-throat vocals are matched in unison with an effects-laden guitar; the combination of the two timbres produces a wobbly, seasick quality that sets the stage for the song's bleakness. Staley explodes as the song crashes into the chorus, trading off portentous lines like: "Jesus Christ/Deny your maker" and "He who tries/Will be wasted" with Cantrell's drier, less-urgent voice. In fact, the contrast in those two lines perfectly sums up the song -- a meeting of metal theatrics and introspective hopelessness.
Courtesy: Steve Huey (

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Top Albums Of All Time: 1993 (Reader's Poll)

Here's the top albums from 1993 voted by readers of station to station. These albums will be included in the Ultimate Albums tournament which is underway. Also votes from same poll on Rate Your Music forum are being added into results.

Thanks for all the votes. Be sure to cast your votes for the next year featured: 1973. That poll will take place on station to station's side panel and is currently available for voting until 9/11/14 (Thursday). Cheers!

Top Albums Voted For 1993, will move on to ULTIMATE ALBUMS Tournament:
*** Number Of Votes 244, Thanks for participating!***
(1st # Poll Daddy Votes, 2nd # RYM Forum Poll Votes)

1. Smashing Pumpkins-Siamese Dream (8) (15)
2. Nirvana-In Utero (9) (10)
3. Björk-Debut (7) (9)
4. Slowdive-Souvlaki (4) (9)
5. Counting Crows-August And Everything After (5) (5)
6. Wu-Tang Clan-Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (3) (5)
7. PJ Harvey-Rid of Me (7) (1)
8. The Breeders-Last Splash (7) (1)
9. Paul Weller-Wild Wood (6) (1)
10. Depeche Mode-Songs of Faith and Devotion (3) (4)
11. Neil Young-Unplugged (5) (2)
12. Pearl Jam-Vs (5) (1)
13. Red House Painters- Red House Painters [Rollercoaster] (2) (4)
14. Mazzy Star-So Tonight That I Might See (5) (1)
15. Tool-Undertow (5) (1)
Missed The (11-17) Cut:
5 Votes:
Liz Phair-Exile in Guyville (4) (1)
Type O Negative-Bloody Kisses (3) (2)
Urge Overkill-Saturation (4) (1)

4 Votes:
The Afghan Whigs-Gentlemen (3) (1)
Crowded House-Together Alone (3) (1)
The Flaming Lips-Transmissions from the Satellite Heart (3) (1)
Fugazi-In On The Kill Taker (4) (0)
James-Laid (2) (2)
Pet Shop Boys-Very (1) (3)
Suede-Suede (2) (2)
Tindersticks-Tindersticks (3) (1)
Uncle Tupelo-Anodyne (4) (0)

3 Votes:
The Boo Radleys-Giant Steps (2) (1)

Jellyfish-Split Milk (3) (0)
Morphine-Cure For Pain (1) (2)
Sarah McLachlan-Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (3) (0)
Snoop Doggy Dogg-Doggystyle (2) (1)
U2-Zooropa (3) (0)

2 Votes:
Blur-Modern Life Is Rubbish (2) (0)
Dwight Yoakam-This Time (0) (2)
Family-Un soplo en el corazón (0) (2)
Grant Lee Buffalo-Fuzzy (0) (2)
Melvins-Houdini (0) (2)
Palace Brothers-There Is No-One What Will Take Care Of You (2) (0)
Stereolab-Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements (1) (1)
Underworld-Dubnobasswithmyheadman (2) (0)

1 Vote:
Autechere-Incunabula (0) (1)
Carcass-Heartwork (0) (1)
Cypress Hill-Black Sunday (1) (0)
Motorpsycho-Demonbox (1) (0)
New Bomb Turks-!!Destroy-Oh-Boy!! (0) (1)
Orbital-Orbital ("The Brown Album") (0) (1)
A Tribe Called Quest Midnight Marauders (1) (0)
The Wildhearts-Earth Vs. The Wildhearts (1) (0)
Yo La Tengo-Painful (1) (0)

#91: Beck-Where It's At (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "Where It's At"
Artist: Beck
Release Date: July, 1996
From The Album: Odelay (1996)

Quick Take: The first single from Odelay, "Where It's At" is a bewildering but beguiling mix of bizarre samples (several, including the title chant, from an obscure 1969 sex education record for teens; the pivotal line "two turntables and a microphone" is a nick from Mantronix's seminal electro 12" "Needle To The Groove"), a drop-dead gorgeous organ part -- it's really no wonder that soul-jazz organist Lonnie Smith did an entire album of Beck tunes -- and some of Beck's most outré cultural references. (A passing reference to forgotten '70s outsider musician Gary Wilson single-handedly revived Wilson's long-dead career!) As unashamedly gimmicky as "Loser" but a much better song, "Where It's At" is one of the pinnacles of Beck's career.