The Pitchfork review of the recent reissue of Smashing Pumpkins’ “Adore” album briefly touches on just how weird and bloated the music industry was in the late 90’s/early 2000’s and it reminded me of the Limp Bizkit kick I was on a month ago. I have not earned the right to speak authoritatively on Limp Bizkit because I have basically only heard six songs by them, but I have this feeling that Limp Bizkit is one of the most misunderstood and underestimated bands ever. It just doesn’t seem right that they’re only remembered for how bad they sucked when they were legitimately the biggest band in the world at one point, and that they became as such with a sound that was unquestionably distinctive. I know I’m always talking about how much I hate the way people talk about Nirvana but like, it’s pretty common to hear Kurt Cobain referenced as the “last rock star” when in reality, it was Fred fucking Durst, and that fact is in itself crucially important to the Nirvana narrative. Limp Bizkit is the end point. Not just for alternative rock but maybe music in general. I don’t have any thoughts to back that up right now because this is way too macro and I just got off work. But I seriously feel like Limp Bizkit was the exact musical corollary to so much that was happening culturally and economically at the time of their popularity. Mostly the really bad stuff.

But like, I’m not using that as a means to express how bad I think Limp Bizkit is, because that would be boring. I mean, Limp Bizkit is bad, but not really as bad as you think. “Nookie” is essentially a metalcore song, and if you changed the lyrics to be about firebombing leather stores, then Earth Crisis probably could have written it. Musically, I love every part of this song except the dumb Tool breakdown. And I think this cover of “Faith” is pretty funny. And that’s what everybody forgets! Limp Bizkit was funny! And Wes Boreland is really good at guitar! I will concede that Fred Durst has one of the most generally upsetting presences of anyone I’ve ever seen on television, but that is precisely why this band is important. Just think about it, ok?

(Source: Spotify)

With only minor hyperbole, I’d say this scene is playing in my head for about 20% of my day.

"It’s Jesus. It’s pretty funny"- Glenn Danzig.

you ever trip out on how they made you say the Pledge of Allegiance every day

yo i don’t understand what other people’s values are

I’m about halfway through “A Light That Never Goes Out” and I’m starting to lose interest. I’m at the part where the first album is about to come out and the Smiths are making their first television appearances, which would normally be more interesting than the overlong pre-band biographies which are present in any book about popular music (this one is no exception), but I think I liked reading about each member’s respective early days in Manchester more. I couldn’t put my finger on why this was, but then I realized that all of the bands I really like to mythologize have pretty strong puritanical streaks. And so while the Smiths were getting significant write ups after their second show, Husker Du was driving to Calgary for a week long residency at a cowboy bar. They did their time. And while some might be willing to accept Morrissey’s four year stint of rueful unemployment as “doing his time,” I would not agree. Because I’m an American.

It’s fucking friday.

The “Friends” theme song is my gauge  for whether I’m feeling the effects of economic and cultural decline the way so many people my age are or if what I’m feeling is just good old post-grad uncertainty and disappointment.

Like, my job is a joke, I am pretty broke, and my love life is absolutely DOA but as of right now that’s kind of it. I have 90’s problems, is what I’m saying.
 Queue the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

I finally got Tori Amos’ ubiquitous “Little Earthquakes” on disc for the reasonable price of $1 a few weekends ago. This is the kind of music I hated most as a teenager- timely-sounding pop-prog championed by my older sister. Then, just before I started my current job, I was driving around West Chester late at night when Peter Gabriel’s “Mercy Street” came on the radio, and I guess I have not been the same since. I bought “So” soon after that, partially as a funny symbolic gesture. Like, my adult life is starting now, I must own a copy of “So” (I think I also bought two pairs of Dockers that day). Except now the novelty has worn off completely, and “So” is just a great album, and I feel totally comfortable working in an office all day. But seeing as every transition I go through takes time (I may or may not still be in the process of also becoming a hardcore kid- we’ll see) I staved off Tori Amos until now.

I was driving around listening to it last weekend thinking of all the ways I could make fun of it when I realized that, again, this is just an amazing album made by a person who is talented in a way I will never understand. Listening to the choruses of “Crucify” and “Winter,” I was like, “I think this album is primarily about self-acceptance” and then I realized that I have actually not thought about “self-acceptance” as a concept in forever, and suddenly I was just driving down the main line listening to this album and thinking about self-acceptance in reference to that specific moment. Just thinking about how becoming what you always considered to be lame is such a vital and noble process.

(Source: Spotify)

A brief apology for the ukulele

As most of you probably know, I spent the better part of my teen years as a twee as fuck, ukulele-playing folk-punk musician. This weekend, while sitting in the KOP parking lot with my ukulele, waiting for a Craigslist buyer who never showed up, I came to a realization that has been lurking within me for a while: I will never be able to get rid of this thing. This is my cross to bear.

But, I just want to say, while the ukulele infestation of the past half-decade or so unquestionably fostered an incredibly grating aesthetic and was generally a horrible thing to happen to music, I think I am still philosophically in favor it. See, I have pretty much no stake in what punk is supposed to be anymore, but I think where I differ from people on this point is that I’ve always wanted punk to be about intensely localized creative communities, not a national network of conventional music scenes. Hands down, the best, most meaningful shows I’ve ever been to were at Joe and Mimi’s parents’ house, when there were 20 people there and the bands and audience members just cycled positions throughout the evening. This is also why when I say that TV Dinner was the best punk band to ever exist, people only pretend to know what I’m saying. It goes beyond the fact that they lived 10 minutes away and became my friends pretty quickly, though that’s important, too- it’s more that they couldn’t really exist outside of their own specific context. Basically, I feel like if you weren’t born between the years 1989 and 1992 and didn’t grow up somewhere close to the Delaware/Chester County line, there is no chance you will ever understand TV Dinner, which makes them crucially important to those who fall within those parameters.  At least that’s how I feel.

On a practical level, the ukulele lends itself to this kind of specialization. In addition to being inexpensive and easy to learn, it’s quiet and portable. If you’re playing one, a show can happen virtually anywhere, and this is exciting to me. I just really like the idea of arming large numbers of people with an accessible creative tool and witnessing how personal and fragmented the resulting art would be. Now, obviously, this is not how it turned out. The ukulele, by virtue of basically being a toy, naturally lends itself to kitsch, and in turn almost all of the music made on it is super derivative, though it doesn’t have to be. Fuck it- I hope someone writes an inspired ukulele album that isn’t bogged down in cutesy aesthetics. If only to rectify the fact that I spent so much time doing the opposite.