Friday, September 30, 2011

Dance Party Friday! Middle School Alt Rock Version

I can never claim to be an indie music fan like Nick Hornsby's character Rob Fleming, in his book & subsequent movie, High Fidelity, but I have listened to some great indie & alt rock in my day.

Semi-related: When I was in 7th grade (1991 or so), I had an english teacher who was SO. COOL. He was young, wore original Doc Martens (the low-top kind that just look like regular shoes) and sponsored the "alternative music" club, which I attended. I think I was the only girl, it was me and a bunch of skaters (skateboarders). He was also my homeroom teacher. I Googled him this week and found him! He's a masseuse in Iowa City. I have some friends in IC, so maybe when I visit them, I should set up a massage appointment and be all REMEMBER ME AND THAT TIME I SUBMITTED A POEM TO THE 7TH GRADE CREATIVE WRITING BOOK THINGIE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF SURFING, EXCEPT IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A SONG, TO THE TUNE OF THE THEME FROM GREEN ACRES? First - yes, I really did that. "Kahanamoku was one wicked dude/T&C make boards that are so rude" is a line I apparently won't forget, ever. Second - that would be so weird and icky. Hi, old english (OE!) teacher. Rub on me. Just . . . no.

Man. I thought I was sooooo in love with surfing back then. Yep. Me, growing up in KS, who had only ever seen the Gulf of Mexico when I was a toddler - I had a big ol' surfing posters on my bedroom walls and knew all the top surfer names and stuff. For about a year or so. I also adopted the yin yang sign as "my" symbol - wore it in jewelry, drew it on everything.

Dude, look. Steve Caballero, Tony Hawk and I don't know who else. 1990s. Skaters. Sk8 or die . . . or something like that.

Back to the point of this post: I had a couple friends who introduced me to some great bands/solo acts. The person who probably had the biggest impact on shaping my musical taste at that young age was my friend Justin. Justin and I met in 7th grade, became buddies and spent lots of time listening to music together. He was a skater and played guitar/bass. In college, he joined a popular local ska/punk band (more about him/them in a future dance party). He also made me several mixtapes back in the day - today I'm going to feature some of those songs.

I realize that all of this music may not traditionally fit into the (very broad) genres of indie rock & alt rock, but when I was in 7th grade, we just called ALL of this stuff, "alternative". What's interesting is that the definition of alt rock changed pretty quickly - or at least mainstream U.S. radio changed quickly - and soon called plain old rock - alt rock. Alt rock used to mean rock that could really only be found on college radio, but by the late 90s, everyone was listening to it and it was characterized by groups like Vertical Horizon. And, as I already stated, I'm no aficionado, these are just my opinions.

TRUE MEN DON'T! KILL COYOTES! Old RHCP - my favorite. Blood Sugar Sex Magic was the last full album I really enjoyed by these guys. I liked a song here & there from their later stuff, but their earlier songs are my favorites. I think that Justin may have also put Fight Like a Brave and Higher Ground on some of his mixtapes.

As I mentioned, Justin was a bass player. He LOVED Primus and if you listen to this song, you can hear Les Claypool's ridiculous bass playing. Man, I haven't heard this song in a long time. Say, baby. SAY, BABY!

24/7 Spyz - Understanding - I've actually been trying to find this on youtube forever. This was probably my first time really listening to anything with a reggae sound besides The Police. I remember getting this CD and being disappointed that the rest of their album was more punk than anything else. Nevertheless, this has been a favorite song of mine for about 20 years now, not only because of the sound, but because of the message. And the band themselves - there aren't that many Black punk bands out there, you know?

Ok, this is funny. I was trying to find this song, but I thought it was a song by the Dead Milkmen . . . another band that Justin had on my mixtapes, I'm pretty sure, but I don't remember which song. Anyway, this was a fun little ditty by Scatterbrain.

Look! More Black punk! I don't know if this is the Bad Brains song Justin put on my tapes, but I know he listened to this band, and I like this song, so . . .

I know with all the punk, you wouldn't expect this to find it's way onto a Justin mixtape, but it sure did! I loved this song so much that I bought their CD, devoured the whole thing, and it's still one of my favorite albums. Start to finish, awesome. Happy and melancholy indie rock from the UK. Gotta love it!

R.E.M. was around constantly during my middle & high school years. This is the song Justin put on a mixtape and I remember arguing with him about some of the lyrics. I think their album Out of Time came out around the same time, and I ended up finding most of their old albums and listening to them over and over. I also loved the album that came out after Out of Time, but after that didn't dig into their new stuff. Please note the hairstyle of the skater kid in this video - Justin and his skater friends all had variations of this hairstyle. :) The Justin Bieber-y boys of today got nothing on the original early 90s skater FLOP!

Sure, we all love Been Caught Stealing, but have you ever listened to this song? It's from the same album and it's beautiful.

There are other versions of this song, but this is the one Justin put on my tape, and this is the one I love. If you want to get to know late 80s, early 90s indie rock, go no further. Just get everything the Pixies ever recorded.

What were you listening to in the late 80s, early 90s? Do you have any great indie/alt rock songs to share?

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