Friday, November 14, 2008

Arizona

Hey Arizona, I've got a question for you...
What? Sometime Ostriches need to know things...


What do you do on a sunny June Saturday, when it's 110 degrees in the shade, and all you can find to quench your thirst is 190 proof Everclear?

You ROCK THE EFF OUT!!!
Arizona could arguably be the easiest state of the fifty. There are plenty of options, none of whom could be considered revolutionary rock royalty, and I really only enjoy a handful, so I don't feel bad about leaving out bands like The Meat Puppets and Linkin Park. No offense intended, but these are not world-setting-on-fire acts. I think my iTunes includes one or two songs by each, and that's not what I call 'influential'. That being said, if EITHER of these bands was from Alaska, I wouldn't have had to trade it for Iceland...

Look at me. I'm getting SO excited over my choices I've totally skipped over Arizona's fun facts... A thousand apologies Grand Canyon State.

First off, a personal fact.

If you leave Las Vegas, NV heading into the desert, and you find yourself at a huge sonofabitchin' dam, then you've left Nevada, and entered Arizona. This theorem is tested, I proved it in July.

Wikiness!

-Arizona is one of the four corner states with Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. Oddly enough it's the only one of the four states I'm looking forward to writing about

- Arizona is the home of one of the largest meteorite impact sites in the world. It's a big frickin' hole in the ground, but not the biggest frickin' hole in the ground in Arizona... Due to a canyon that's pretty grand...
- Arizona does not observe daylight savings time, which makes it a pain in the ass to tell someone from Arizona what time they need to jump on a conference call.
- While Arizona is a lovely and colorful sounding name for a state, it roughly means 'Dry Region'. There's nothing lovely or colorful about dry regions... Arizona needs some chap stick, or at least a moist towelette.

- Arizona is known as the Birthplace of Scientology, the state's third largest hole in the ground...

- If Arizona was a separate country, it would have the 61st largest national economy in the world, meaning if we were to trade it like Alaska, we'd totally be able to score Finland in return.

Byzantine palaces AND the birthplace of the NHL's Saku Koivu... Maybe it's worth it...


- Finland is the home country of classical cello quartet Apocolyptica, who compose and perform orchestral versions of Metallica tunes. They rule, but not enough to trade Arizona for.


Ornate palaces, Hockey players, AND cello badasses? Sorry Arizona, I'd do this deal...


- Arizona is prominently featured in many Country & Western songs, because nothing says comfort like riding a horse in 100 degree heat... Wearing cowboy boots and chaps...

OK, enough with the facts, time for the good stuff...

The Selections:

Solo Artist: Alice Cooper

Vincent Damon Furnier was born in Detroit Rock City, but due to a myriad of childhood illnesses exacerbated by the cold wet weather in Detroit, and later Pennsylvania, the Furnier family moved to Arizona where their child Vincent could thrive in the warm dry air.

Vincent also thrived musically, adopting the Nombe de Rock Alice Cooper.

Cooper scored massive hard rock hits in the early part of the 70's with I'm Eighteen and School's Out. Two teen angst anthems that to this day can be heard screaming out the car windows of graduating seniors in high schools across the nation.


My Transmission's OUT for SUMMER!!! My Engine's DEAD FOREVER!!

Cooper continued releasing shock rock albums designed to sharpen the edges of human consciousness through fist pumping anger throughout the 70's and 80's and released him most recent album just this year. His 18th full length entitled Along Came a Spider. I have not yet sampled the new flavor of Alice, but when I do, it shall be a bad day to be a set of speakers...

Band: Jimmy Eat World

The only moment of hesitation surrounding Arizona's selections were in the decision of which band would make the 'band' slot, and which would take the 'honorable mention' slot. When the dust settled, it came down to the simple fact that Jimmy Eat world released the absolute greatest album ever to debut on my birthday, July 18, 2001's Bleed American.


If you are not familiar with Bleed, which was later printed as a self-titled album due to the terror attacks of September 11th, you should not be reading a blog right now, you should be on iTunes or some other wholly respectable and legal music download site familiarizing yourself with the soundtrack of an era. We were a different nation before and after that day in September when the distance between cultures got larger and the world itself shrunk to the size of a New York City block. Released months prior, Bleed American captures so much of the anger, confusion, and desire to move on of the times those of us caught captive by the television felt, even though it so notably pre-dated the events themselves.

If your a fan of this album as I am, and have never drawn the parallel, give a listen to 'Get it Faster'. There's a rage in that song I could not understand until that day, yet somehow Jimmy Eat World had already captured long before. It's prescient and scary.

There's so much more here than hurt feelings and doom & gloom though. It's also an album you can and will find yourself singing along to from front to back, and while none of the band's other works have hit the same emotional and pure-pop-joy of Bleed, there's great tracks to be discovered on all of them. This is what real rock music of the new American century sounds like.

Honorable Mention: Gin Blossoms

The definition of a 'Behind The Music' band. Alcoholism and eventual suicide took the life of their original lead guitarist Doug Hopkins, a break-up-length 'hiatus' from 1997 until 2001 followed by an alcohol related breakdown and dismissal of their 2nd drummer Phillip Rhodes, led to a dearth pf new recordings until 2006's Major Lodge Victory, their third full length, and final to date. The longest term replacement for Rhodes, Scott Kusmirek has now officially left the band as of September 30th of this year.

This once great beacon of Alt-Rock's future during the boom of early 90's alternative is now without a label, writing new music to release a new album 20 years after it's first, just it's 5th LP over than expansive time frame.

But there's plenty of good here too...

I first heard the Gin Blossoms in late summer 1992 on Jed the Fish's 'Catch of the Day' on KROQ 106.7 in Los Angeles. I distinctly remember first hearing the track Hey Jealousy off the New Miserable Experience album in the mid afternoon, roughly 3:00 or so. I immediately grabbed a blank TDK 90 minute and popped it into my dual deck cassette stereo.

Remember, this was 1992, we listened to our music 45 minutes at a time, followed by short 30 second breaks to flip the tape over...

I then spent the next 6 hours glued to the radio, waiting for a re-play of a song that had somehow altered my 14 year old brain chemistry. In the interim, I was serenaded by Ween, L7, The The, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, man... the list is endless. This was not my first experience with most of these bands, but sitting intently glued to every noise issuing from those shelf-system speakers sixteen years ago is to the best of my recollection, the moment in which that switch was flipped. Gin Blossoms, as much as any other musical act, can be credited with my ongoing obsession with modern rock, my mind-altering need to relive thousands of auditory flashbacks as often as possible, and the very existence of this blog... Maybe I should change the name to Hey Jealousy...

Alright, it's late, and this has started getting way more sappy than funny. as I check the clock and see that the day is about to change, it reminds me of all the days gone by driving aimlessly just to listen to a new album, making tapes from my dad's old records, building my own record collection from used shops now only open for business in my memories and I ponder just how much time I've given to pop music since first listening to the US release The Beatles 2nd Album for the first time twenty some odd years ago.

Hell, it's still not as much time as I've devoted to earning a paycheck to buy more music.

See you next time when I trudge helplessly through Arkansas...

2 comments:

Julie the Cruise Ship Director said...

I had Alice Cooper's Trash album from 1989. House of Fire is a great song.

And Jimmy Eat World continues to be one of my favorite bands.

OCKerouac said...

Arizona was quite the exciting musical treasure trove to explore. Just enough good artists to flesh out a nice post without feeling like I snubbed anybody.

California is going to be a bloodbath. SOOO many people to leave out...