GRUNGEREPORT YEAR IN REVIEW: A LOOK BACK AT ALTERNATIVE ROCK IN 2012
As 2012 draws to a close, let’s take a look back at what happened in alternative rock
Soundgarden released their first album in 16 years King Animal in November. This was one of my most anticipated albums of all time, but after nearly 2 months of listening to it, it’s just ‘okay’ to me. While I love “A Thousand Days Before” (one of the best songs of 2012) and a couple other tracks from the album, most of it just hasn’t stuck with me since it came out. I listened constantly during the first few weeks of release. But to me a lot of it just feels like middle of the road rock/playing it safe, it doesn’t sound like Soundgarden pushing their sound forward and in new directions. My favorite Soundgarden album is Down on the Upside, on that album the band really ventured into new territory sonically with songs like “Zero Chance” and “Burden In My Hand.” Chris Cornell pushed the boundaries even further on Euphoria Morning. Some of his best lyrical work ever is on those two albums. I’m happy there are fans out there who like the album more than I do, even though I’m not a huge fan of the album Soundgarden are still better than most bands out there today and I will be seeing them live again in February.
2012 was a quiet year for Pearl Jam, with limited tour dates mainly at festivals. Eddie Vedder did quite a bit of touring though, and other members released albums via side projects like RNDM, Brad, Mike McCready’s music for Fat Kid Rules The World, and Jeff Ament’s solo album. In the last couple of weeks I’ve really been missing Pearl Jam as an active live band/recording unit. Been listening to a lot of Binaural in particular, and Vs./Riot Act/Yield/Vitalogy. I guess that’s most of the discography actually. The one Pearl Jam related show I saw this year was RNDM’s free show in Long Beach, where I got to meet and interview Jeff Ament. It was surreal and a dream come true to meet a member of one of my favorite bands and to get a brief interview with him.
Heading into June, I had very low expectations for the release of the new Smashing Pumpkins album Oceania. The Teargarden By Kaleidyscope era produced some of the worst music in Billy Corgan’s career in my opinion, including: Widow Wake My Mind, Owata, Lightning Strikes, and A Stitch In Time. The mediocre new music didn’t help the fact that I was still disappointed that Jimmy Chamberlin had been fired from the Pumpkins. When Oceania finally came out though, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s his most consistent album since Zwan’s Mary Star of the Sea, the songs have heart and sonically have more power than the Teargarden material. You can still hear the sincerity in Corgan’s lyrics about heartbreak and trying to hold onto love on songs like Pinwheels and Violet Rays. BillCo had some bold things to say in many interviews this year. While I totally agree with his views on hipsters and the music industry today, I don’t agree with some of the things he has said about fellow Generation X bands. I’ve got no problem with it though, it’s great for GrungeReport traffic!
In December fans on Nirvana were in shock as the surviving members of the band (Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Pat Smear) reunited to perform their first high profile gig since 1994 with Paul McCartney on lead vocals/guitar at the 12-12-12 show in New York. Nirvana also performed on Saturday Night Live, and released the new track “Cut Me Some Slack.” The song to me rocks, obviously it’s not anything legendary but it sounds like a hybrid of the heavier side of The Beatles and Nirvana. The performances to me were very inspired as well. This is not about the money. You can tell that Krist, Dave, and Pat really missed performing together. They did it in the most respectful way possible as well to the late Kurt Cobain as well, not performing any old Nirvana songs.
Stone Temple Pilots’ year was pretty terrible for fans. The band did not start working on a new album like many expected, and did nothing to mark the 20th anniversary of their debut album Core. Actually the only thing that really celebrated it was my retrospective. Scott Weiland also started actively campaigning for the reunion of Velvet Revolver, which seems pointless to me since the group ran its course. He even lied and said the band was back together and Slash said he was out of his mind. Anways, STP did a one month tour with the same stale setlist and no new material. A month or two later Slash claimed that Stone Temple Pilots had fired Scott Weiland. Weiland and STP have made no official statement to deny this.
Alice In Chains had a mostly quiet year on the live front, only performing live one time in May. They spent most of the year recording their fifth studio album, they released a track off the album (Hollow) a couple of weeks ago. I don’t really like the song, it’s pretty forgettable to me, and I was a fan of Black Gives Way to Blue. The bright side though is it’s not the lead radio single, but a preview song/digital single to kick off the promotion of the album. I have faith that the album will be better than Hollow.
Mark Lanegan released his first solo album in 8 years Blues Funeral earlier this year. The album is fantastic, Lanegan’s darkness has not gone away as he has aged. “Ode to Sad Disco” is one of my favorite solo tracks of his, my other favorites include: Quiver Syndrome, Riot In My House, Harborview Hospital, and The Gravedigger’s Song. Lanegan also supported the album with a massive world tour.
2012 saw continued touring from Jane’s Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in support of their latest albums. I saw both bands live (Jane’s for the second time, RHCP for the first time) and both were amazing experiences. Jane’s are still able to deliver live even without key founding member Eric Avery, and Josh Klinghoffer proved to be a worthy replacement live for John Frusciante. Garbage finally returned with a new album and extensive tour, and Bush kept touring as well (unfortunately with Nickelback for part of the year). The Toadies and Local H released new albums, and the Melvins put on a record breaking touring performing in 51 states in 51 days. Mudhoney released their documentary and finished recording a new album. Tool and Queens of the Stone Age were mostly quiet but will have new albums out next year.
When it comes to GrungeReport.net itself, traffic has continued to go up since we started covering more bands in July, and expanded to more of a ‘Grunge era’ alternative rock news site. We had interviews with Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament, The Smashing Pumpkins’ Nicole Fiorentino, and the Melvins’ Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover which were great as well. Our new reporters Mike, Nicole, and Paul have done fantastic jobs as well. Sometime during the first quarter of 2013 we will be changing our name to better represent the bands we now cover. I’m likely going to set up a donation thing to raise some money to help pay for the expansion of the site. I’m not expecting too much from readers, but ANYTHING will help with the amount of money I’m going to need to spend, and there will be some rewards and stuff like that to people who donate. The goal of the site is to have it grow so it can have a voice in the rock community, a site that covers the great bands that are still active and can break in younger bands who carry on that same spirit as well. And I’m not just talking about ‘new Grunge bands,’ I’m talking about bands influenced by Grunge, alternative rock, basically any good rock that carried on that ethos and spirit.