Skip to main content

100 Albums: "Nevermind" by Nirvana

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Nirvana
Title: Nevermind
Released: 1991
Genre: It's the template for grunge


To this day, I instinctively try to type "never mind" as a single world.

This is the album that killed hair metal. Perhaps as a reaction to the New Wave and party music of the 80s, the music of the early 90s all took itself very seriously. It was also the era of gangsta rap, after all. Gen-X-ers were the new youth culture and they were angsty and ironic this record in particular spoke to them. It was rough and raw but somehow also pop-friendly and glossy. It was angry but also fun--it was basically punk music, but it was slower and grooved a little. The lyrics were vague and weird and didn't seem to be about anything, but they were also poetic and beautiful in their own way. (And then you actually find out what songs like Polly are about and it sort of blows your mind.)

It has just so many good, enduring songs on it. The singles Smells Like Teen Spirit, Come As You Are, Polly, Lithium, and In Bloom get radio play to this day. Late-album fare like Drain You, Something In The Way, and On A Plain still hold up incredibly well and would get a revival on the bands MTV Unplugged In New York album. Stay Away showed up on the DCG rarities compilation under its original title Pay To Play (This an album that has no reason to exist, but it does exist, and it even had a single: Counting Crows' Einstein On The Beach (For An Eggman).) The hidden track Endless, Nameless gained notoriety for how batshit insane it was that someone would record 7 minutes of instrument-destruction like that, let alone include it on an album. Even the filler tracks, Breed and Territorial Pissings, are catchy.

I'm also a big fan of (the only song I haven't named yet) Lounge Act, largely because it's a nice little showcase for bassist Krist Novoselic. Drummer Dave Grohl and singer/songerwiter/guitarist Kurt Cobain are--rightly--heralded for their talents and contributions, but Novoselic is a bit of an unsung hero. His bass work was never flashy, but in a genre where bassists are assumed to be playing straight root 8th notes, he was always finding something interesting and functional to do. Years of playing with Cobain had knitted them into a tight unit, and I think it's a little under-appreciated how integral he was to Nirvana's sound. This song lets him show off a little.

Further Listening: Cobain's suicide in 1994 cut short Nirvana's career. In a way, that meant that they never had a chance to get stale or tired, and it paved the way for Dave Grohl's decades-long success with Foo Fighters, but it also means the Nirvana catalog is limited to three proper studio albums and a B-sides collection. Their indie debut Bleach, is rough and features a different line-up. Incesticide, the B-sides album, is similarly difficult to listen to, although it did give us Sliver and Aneurysm, which are fun. Their final studio album was In Utero, an intentional step away from the pop sheen of Nevermind. It's less accessible, but still has some amazing tracks on it and a healthy dose of irony, as evidenced in titles like Milk It and Radio-Friendly Unit Shifter. MTV Unplugged In New York is a concert album, and almost half of it is covers of other artists: the Vasolines, Lead Belly, and David Bowie, and then three Meat Puppets songs that feature Curt and Chris Kirkwood of Meat Puppets. It's an odd duck of an Unplugged record, but still quite excellent. I never did get into their other live album, From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah. Their hidden track from the No Alternative compilation is worth seeking out, titled variously Sappy, Happy, or Verse Chorus Verse. Finally, there's the song You Know You're Right, which was the last song the band recorded while working on a fourth album that remained unreleased until 2002 because of legal disputes between the surviving band members and Cobain's widow Courtney Love.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Alexandra Rowland And Bad Faith Accusations

This morning, writing twitter was blown up by a post from Alexandra Rowland accusing Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear of some nasty manipulative behavior. I have reason to believe that Rowland is acting in bad faith.

Seven or eight years ago, Rowland and I were in the same writing group. I didn't know them well, but we became Facebook friends because that's what you do. At some point after we fell out of contact with each other, they made a post about an affair with an influential older male who had lied about being in an open marriage and proceeded to manipulate and gaslight and emotionally abuse them.

I didn't know any of the people involved other than Rowland, but I was affected enough by Rowland’s post that I can still recall reading it all these years later. So when I saw Rowland's blog this morning, I assumed it was the same situation... except the dates weren't right. The Bear/Lynch events took place in 2016, but the post I remembered was older than that. So I w…

My Recent Experience With Daily Science Fiction

Update: On March 3rd, they re-issued my story with a blanket apology to the subscribers for the error. In terms of fixing the original mistake, this feels both thorough and sincere. They have still not reached out or responded to me personally. If and when that changes, I will note it here.

Update: On March 21st, Jonathan apologized via email for the mixup. As far as I'm concerned, the matter is now settled.

If you follow Daily Science Fiction, then you probably saw this morning's email that started "Major glitches on the spaceship DSF" and you may be wondering what some of that was about. Well, this is what some of that was about.

So I recently had a story accepted by Daily Science Fiction called Marla Corbet: Living (With The Invaders). (I never got around to a formal announcement, so if you'd like to read it, you can find it here. It's a very silly thing about an ersatz Martha Stewart. And human hair. And alien poop. You'll love it.) It was accepted on …

100 Album: "Game Of Thrones Season 3 Soundtrack" by Ramin Djawadi

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Ramin Djawadi
Title:Game Of Thrones, Season 3 Soundtrack
Released: 2013
Genre: DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh


He's not as big a name as Hans Zimmer or John Williams or the various Newmans out there, but Ramin Djawadi is easily the most interesting composer working in television right now (with due respect to Bear McCreary). Soundtracks, especially television soundtracks because they're produced so quickly, have a tendency to serve more as a wall of atmosphere than anything else. But Djawadi's work here and on Westworld has generated some amazing musical themes. There's a strong undercurrent of leitmotif informing the way the music flows together and the themes those motifs are built around are damned catchy--which you know if you got the joke in the genre description above.

While all of the soundtracks for GoT are very listenable, this is my favorite. It has A Lannist…