Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Music: 90s bands making comebacks


smashing pumpkins

"What's the deal with all these 90s bands getting back together?" my friend Jaime asked me a few weeks ago.

"I dunno. I guess they like money," I responded.

I'm really not that cynical, but it's hard to imagine why so many 90s alt. rock bands -- including Sebadoh, Rage Against the Machine and Smashing Pumpkins -- are choosing to reunite now, all at the same time. Ever Since the Pixies came back, it seems like every 90s buzzworthy band wants to give it another go.

Does anyone think these bands will, once again, have a major impact on the masses? I know popular music is in a state of crisis (may I point you here to prove my point?), but do the Gin Blossoms really think they can save radio?

Well, at least we might get a few good tunes out of this trend. The new Lemonheads album was a nice surprise.

Let's separate fact from rumor concerning some of the recent purported 90s band reunions. Here's a list of some of the major bands that broke up but might be looking to make a comeback, listed in alphabetical order:

Gin Blossoms
Tempe, Arizona's Gin Blossoms seemed destined for greatness after the release of the debut EP Up & Crumbling and the commercial and artistic success of 1992's New Miserable Experience (the one with "Hey Jealousy").
After being fired from the band, guitarist and chief songwriter Doug Hopkins shot and killed himself in 1993 while songs from Miserable were blanketing MTV and radio.
The band tried to rebound with the song "Til I Hear it From You" from the Empire Records soundtrack and the so-so 1996 album Congratulations, I'm Sorry. Neither effort was as critically or commercially successful as Miserable and the band broke up in 1997 only to reunite for a tour, album and DVD release in 2002.
The band released the album Major Lodge Victory in Aug. 2006 and is currently on tour. Stream the new album and view upcoming tour dates here.
Selected discography:
Up & Crumbling, 1991
New Miserable Experience, 1992
Major Lodge Victory, 2006

James
You might remember James' great 1993 hit "Laid," but the band has been a part of the UK pop scene since the late 1980s.
The fey sounding, British jangle pop storytellers are readying for a reunion tour and, as the band's official Web site points out, they're still "fresh as a daisy."
Former James front man Tim Booth announced on his official Web page that the band is also recording new tracks.
The reunited version of the band, once dubbed "the new Smiths," hasn't performed together for more than six years. Tickets for the UK spring tour go on sale this Friday.
Selected discography:
Stutter, 1986
Laid, 1993
Millionaires, 1999

The Lemonheads
The only real constant in the Lemonheads' history has been singer-songwriter Evan Dando, the sole original member featured on the band's new, critically well-received, self-titled comeback album.
Dando hired drummer Bill Stevenson and bassist Karl Alvarez, both of the LA punk band The Descendents, to record the album, which features a somewhat rawer sound than anything the band put out in its late 90s heyday.
The rhythm section of The Pieces has backed Dando on a few live dates and Dando is expected to continue touring in support of the new album under the Lemonheads name.
Selected discography:
It's a Shame About Ray, 1992
Come on Feel the Lemonheads, 1993
The Lemonheads, 2006 (Listen to some new tracks on the Lemonheads MySpace page.)

Pavement
News of a Pavement reunion is based on pure rumor and some vague comments by front man Stephen Malkmus and guitarist Spiral Stairs.
In 2005, Malkmus told Chart Attack that the band might reunite "in five years." Malkmus went on to say that there was "still hope" for a reunion and joked that it would be for a "Legends Of Indie Rock" tour.
Stairs, a.k.a. Scott Kannberg, told Pitchfork last September that there had been talk of an eventual reunion.
"I think it makes more sense to let more time go past, you know? It would probably work well for a 20 year anniversary or something like that," he said.
The indie rock band split in 1999 after releasing its final album, Terror Twilight. Matador Records has since re-released the classic Pavement albums Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, Wowee Zowee and the band's 1992 debut Slanted and Enchanted.
Malkmus has since recorded three solo albums with the Jicks, and Stairs records with Preston School of Industry.
Selected discography:
Slanted & Enchanted, 1992
Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, 1994 (Download "Gold Soundz".)
Brighten the Corners, 1997

Rage Against the Machine
On Monday, the LA Times broke the news that a reunited Rage will headline this year's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. This was confirmed by a post on the band's official Web site.
As of now, vocalist Zack de la Rocha, guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk are slated to perform at the festival on April 27.
The band rose to fame in the 90s with several albums worth of polemic leftist anthems set to a fierce blend of hip-hop, punk and metal. De la Rocha left the band in 2001 to record his yet unreleased solo album. His collaborative track with DJ Shadow, "March of Death" was released online in 2003 in protest of the Iraq war. The remaining members of Rage formed the Billboard chart-topping post-grunge band Audioslave with former Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell in 2001.
There's no word yet on whether Rage will tour or record after the initial reunion show.
Selected discography:
Rage Against the Machine, 1992
Evil Empire, 1996
The Battle of Los Angeles, 1999 (Listen to "Sleep Now in the Fire".)

Sebadoh
Singer-songwriter Lou Barlow's beloved 90s lo-fi band will kick off a spring tour Feb. 26 in San Diego. Click here for the complete itinerary.
Sebadoh's original lineup -- including Eric Gaffney, Jason Loewenstein and Barlow -- split in 1994, before the release of, arguably, the band's most successful albums Bakesale and Harmacy.
Barlow started the Folk Implosion around the time and Sebadoh released its final record, The Sebadoh, in 1999. Barlow has since recorded a few critically successful solo records and reunited with his earlier band Dinosaur Jr. for a 2005 tour.
Selected discography:
Sebadoh III, 1991
Bakesale, 1994
Harmacy, 1996 (Download a live version of "Too Pure")

Smashing Pumpkins
"IN STUDIO NOW! ALBUM OUT SOON!" reads the front page of the Pumpkin's official site. An awkward post on the band's MySpace page by front man Billy Corgan promises new tracks and a "tour of tears" for 2007.
Corgan even purchased full-page ads in the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times to announce the impending reunion.
Aside from drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, it's unknown who will be involved from the original lineup, which included guitarist James Iha and bassists D'Arcy Wretzky.
The Pumpkins achieved mainstream success with the 1993 album Siamese Dream, but the band hit a major turning point in July of 1996 when, touring in support of the double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin and Chamberlin overdosed on heroin in New York. Melvoin died and Chamberlin was arrested for drug possession.
Since then, the band's lineup has been in flux and the quality of its records has been spotty. Corgan formally disbanded the Pumpkins in 2000 and recorded a solo album and fronted the band Zwan.
The upcoming Pumpkins album will reportedly feature tracks produced by Roy Thomas Baker, who produced many of Queen's albums, and producer Terry Date, who has worked with Pantera and Soundgarden.
Selected discography:
Gish, 1991
Siamese Dream, 1993 (Listen to "Mayonaise".)
Pisces Iscariot , 1994

Who did I miss? Is Chumbawamba coming back?

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Mayra said...

I would be most happy if Belly came back. Hey if the Pixies could do it, so can they!

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