With the release of Nirvana's Nevermind (Geffen), Pearl Jam's Ten (Epic) and Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik (Warner Bros), Alternative Rock dominated the early '90s mainstream. Touted as the voice of a generation, Kurt Cobain was the poster boy for grunge, leading the way with chart-topping, angst-filled hits. For perspective, Los Angeles was dealing with its own levels of angst and anarchy with the '92 riots which were spawned in the wake of the Rodney King beating. With the City of Angels literally on fire, President Bush had to call in the U.S. Guard for help. Compton rap group N.W.A. was ending its terror on the music industry, but not after prompting strict Parental Advisory guidelines on CD packaging for explicit content and drawing scrutiny from the FBI. With emotions on high and tension building in the streets, the stage was set and no one could have ever predicted the sonic tsunami that was about to shake up the music scene.
Taking their name from a song written by frontman Zack de la Rocha (while with his previous group Inside Out), Rage Against The Machine produced a 12 song demo cassette. The tape was self-released and made available at shows for $5. The band's buzz quickly erupted like a molotov cocktail and with just a handful of live performances, Rage were being persued by several major record labels. Ultimately signing with Epic, the band's debut album, Rage Against The Machine, was released on November 3, 1992. On the strength of the lead single, "Killing In The Name," the album hit #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and #45 on the Billboard 200 chart. "Killing In The Name" received heavy radio play with just 8 lines of repeated lyrics, including the explicit, "Fuck you I won't do what you tell me" repeated 16 times. In line with the aesthetic and social message of RATM, the song alludes to the idea that police brutality is closely associated with the deep-rooted racism in the United States. It's safe to say that none of the grunge bands of the time were singing songs like this.
Nils Frahm is a Berlin-based Avant-Garde composer and pianist known for his unconventional approach to Classical piano. Frahm creates a unique style of classical and Jazz-influenced electronic music by utilizing a grand piano, upright piano, Juno 60 keyboard, Rhodes and a drum machine.
Frahm has gained recognition for his trance-inducing live shows where he's known for painstakingly sustaining notes over a long period of time. On his tenth studio release, Spaces (Erased Tapes), Frahm delivers layers of atmospheric sonics while displaying his ability to create meticulous compositions. Many of his pieces paint broad pictures and can easily be used as film score. Nil Frahm's work satisfies Jazz listeners, electronic fans and those who enjoy avant-garde. Spaces does not disappoint.
Nils Frahm dropped by Amoeba Hollywood recently and picked up some choice vinyl from our Jazz Room. Once Nils starts talking about albums, it's clear he is a true connoisseur who takes his record collecting very seriously. He also explains the importance of being patient when hunting for harder-to-find records. A huge fan of classic Jazz, Nils finds a copy of Billie Holiday's Songs For Distingue Lovers. He follows that up with another rare copy of Thelonious Monk's Thelonious Himself. Frahm finds some amazing records and his genuine appreciation for Jazz makes you want to fire up the record player and chill out to some Miles Davis or John Coltrane.
PE's debut was an excellent hip-hop album but this sequel simply blew it away since it was a jaw-droppingly amazing album (of any genre) in every way. Production-wise, it was so richly layered and hardcore that it just grabbed you and didn't let go. Chuck D's militant and thought-provoking, in-your-face revolutionary lyrical flow was so powerful it scared some people. But mostly it won over new fans who still thought of rap as some fad or disposable urban pop. Combined, all the elements of Nation made up an album that was unlike anything heard in hip-hop, or any music, up to that point. I remember that summer of '88 in the Bay Area hearing it blasting everywhere I went in every type of neighborhood. I had never experienced that before!
Colleen Green details major life upsets as she faces the end of her 30s on her new album, I Want to Grow Up. From breakups to digitally addled attention spans, Green’s power-pop panache makes quarterlife crises go down smoothly on hooky songs like “Pay Attention” and girl-groupish “Wild One.” “I’m so sick of being self-absorbed,” Green sings on the title track, yet she’s so good at communicating that sense of staring at the ceiling and chastising yourself that we can’t help but be hooked on her particular brand of sugary anxiety. She writes a catchy ode to getting clean and going to bed early with “Things That Are Bad for Me” and then follows it up with another track about wanting to get fucked up on the drone-rocking “part 2,” summing up a sentiment on this album we can all relate to: I’m gonna get it together, maybe tomorrow. Read more about I Want to Grow Up in our interview with Green here. See her live at Amoeba Hollywood today at 7 p.m.!