Nirvana

Soaked in Bleach (2015)

Release Year: 2015

Rating: 7/10

Ever since his death in 1994, theories have been roaming that Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain was actually murdered by wife Courtney Love. There have been several books and films stating the case for why Cobain’s death wasn’t actually a suicide. People have been begging the Seattle police department to reopen the case for years with no success. This conspiracy has divided the Nirvana community with some believing Cobain was murdered while others are willing to accept the suicide. Just when it seemed like the murder theory was something that only lived on in forums, Benjamin Statler’s Soaked in Bleach came out last year.

The film begins with the main points of how Cobain’s death was a murder: the lethal heroin injection, the weird suicide note, and Courtney Love hiding things from private investigator Tom Grant. Admittedly, some of it is convincing but it seems like it’s trying to rile up viewers from the get go. One weird thing about the film are the reenactments of conversations between Love and Grant. The acting isn’t terrible, but it’s kind of bizarre. You don’t start the film expecting to see people calling themselves Kurt and Courtney. It makes you think of America’s Most Wanted. The reenactments are sometimes accompanied by actual audio recordings from Grant. At one point when he and Cobain’s friend Dylan Carson are walking around the house, Grant remarks how there’s some weird statue in the closet only to have the reenactment show a horrible replica of the In Utero angel. It’s one of those moments that makes you question if it was necessary.

There’s a point where Stalter interviews Cobain’s former “friends” and even Aaron Buckhard about what type of guy he was. And all of them say the same thing: he didn’t seem suicidal or he wasn’t depressed. He seemed like a happy guy. The film presents these opinions as if to say “See? He was happy, so he couldn’t have killed himself.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that Cobain was neither of those things. Suicide and depression can be hidden quite well. Look at the case with Robin Williams. We can’t go by stereotypical notions of what someone who is depressed or suicidal looks like. So having a bunch of people, who probably didn’t know Cobain that well, say he was really happy doesn’t do anything for the murder case. It’s also an unhealthy view on what depressed or suicidal people look like.

Whether you believe in the murder theory or not, the film does have some credit by getting field experts to voice their opinions, though they all side with Statler. There are testimonies from forensics experts, handwriting experts, the former head of Seattle police, and even an EMT who was on the scene of Cobain’s death in 1994. The insights they provide, such as what they found weird or what the Seattle police department did wrong, are interesting and do make you think twice about what we know about Cobain’s death, which is very little. Not only this, but the taped conversations are fascinating, especially ones featuring the Cobain’s lawyer Rosemary Carroll. She expresses her doubts about the suicide note and how Dylan Carlson knew Kurt was dead. She has since later gone on the record to deny all of this. It makes you wonder what else she knows about the case.

Other than this, there is very little new information here. A lot of the evidence that’s been used to prove Cobain’s death was a murder has already been recounted in books Who Killed Kurt Cobain? and Love & Death. Fans who believe in the murder theory will find very little new information here. Rather, they’ll be reminded of why the theory seems convincing at times. As with most films, especially ones about famous figures, you can’t trust everything being said. And it’s most likely the case some of the events and information were dramatized to amp up the entertainment factor. Still, the film will be interesting for anyone with a passing interest in the conspiracy theory. Will it sway non-believers? Probably not. But it’s at least a decently made documentary that only adds to the Cobain myth.

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Playlist: For Kurt

Last week marked 22 years since the death of Kurt Cobain. As usual fans and critics paid their respects from posting pictures on Twitter or writing lengthy pieces on the late singer. But instead of thought pieces on who Cobain was or why his death isn’t as straight forward as we want to believe, the best way to remember him is through the music. This month’s playlist is dedicated to covers of Nirvana songs. There are a lot of them out there and I couldn’t possibly cover every one, so here are some of my favorites.

“In Bloom” – Sturgill Simpson

I honestly don’t know much about Sturgill Simpson, but his version of “In Bloom” has been spreading around the internet last week. While it’s not the best Nirvana cover I’ve ever heard, it is the most interesting and musically diverse. When the song starts you’re looking for that familiar growl of the guitar riff. You can’t even tell what song it is until Simpson starts singing. His Southern twang in his vocals oddly works with the lyrics along with the light music and Western feel. The track comes alive at the end when an unexpected brass section joins in. I’m actually surprised by how much I like his mellow, soulful version.

“Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle” – Jay Retard

I remember listening to the In Utero tribute album released by Robotic Empire a few years ago. And it was fucking awful. The only redeeming quality was this cover by Jay Retard. Sounding like he’s submerged underwater, his version is more rock and a bit psychedelic than harsh and heavy. It’s not too drastically different from the original, but Jay Retard’s touch makes this cover interesting and at least not a carbon copy of the original.

“Lithium” – The Vaselines

It’s pretty cool that The Vaselines did a cover of this Nirvana single since the guys covered one of their songs in their early days. Unlike the original which is instantly catchy, harsh, and melodic, this version is haunting and subdued. There’s very light music recreating the unforgettable riff and Frances McKee’s vocals are fragile and soft. What makes it even more eerie is the background singing that sounds like moaning and the swelling organ that becomes more apparent as the song reaches its end. It’s actually really beautiful and something Kurt might’ve appreciated.

“All Apologies” – Sinead O’Connor

For some reason, this Nirvana song is a popular one to cover. It’s been done by many artists, but Sinead O’Connor’s version is among the best. She presents a delicate version of the tune. It’s nothing but her and a soft guitar that sounds like only two notes are being plucked. She brings out even more heartbreak and sadness in the song with her light delivery of the song. Just when you thought the unplugged version of the song was depressing, O’Connor makes things even worse.

“Stay Away” – Charles Bradley

Ever wanted to hear what Nirvana would sound like if they were a soul band? Charles Bradley gives you an idea with this soulful rendition of “Stay Away.” It’s different from most Nirvana covers out there, which either try to recreate what the band did or just play the song louder. I’ll admit it took me a bit to appreciate his version, but I actually like the different take on the song. It slows things down a bit and adds a little funk to the mix. Bradley succeeds in showing how Nirvana’s music can span various genres.

“Lithium” – Muse

Muse aren’t shy about their love of Nirvana. In various interviews, the members have talked about how Nirvana were one of their early influences and part of the reason why they started their band. Though they haven’t officially released a Nirvana cover, they’ve played their songs several times live. When they played Lollapalooza in Brazil, it was the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. They acknowledged it by playing “Lithium” and they did a kick ass job with the song. It’s a very straightforward cover, but Bellamy’s voice surprisingly works well with the song. And watching the clip, which is interrupted by interview footage, it’s clear Muse are enjoying themselves while playing the song.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Tori Amos

Tori Amos version of the famous Nirvana song often pops up when looking for the best Nirvana covers and for good reason: it’s beautiful. Apparently, she was the first artist to cover the song and she made it her own. She takes this angst ridden song filled with aggression and anger and turns it into something heartbreaking. It’s nothing but Amos and the piano, which gives it a classical air. Her version changes the entire mood and vibe of the song turning it into something completely different. It’s so haunting you’ll have chills as her voice hits those soaring notes. Cobain even commented on the cover, calling it “a great cereal version.”

“Heart Shaped Box” – Dead Sara

If there’s any band fit for a Nirvana cover, it’s Dead Sara. Emily Armstrong’s vocals are rough and raspy, which perfectly fit with the grunge genre. Their cover the In Utero track is pretty straightforward. They keep same mood and vibe as the original. Still, Armstrong and crew sound amazing when performing the song. The guitars are harsh and dirty while Armstrong’s vocals hit all the right notes. It doesn’t do anything new with the song, but it’s still a respectable cover.

“Breed” – Titus Andronicus

Recorded for Spin’s tribute album to Nevermind, Titus Andronicus takes on Nirvana’s “Breed.” It doesn’t stray far from the original keeping the same general vibe and feel. Where their version does differ is it’s a more raw, sloppy, punk rock version of the Nirvana track. The music is generally the same, but Patrick Stickles’ vocals are edgy and on the harsh side. It’s simple, but it’s very satisfying to listen to.

“Come as You Are” – Yuna

Yuna is a Malaysian singer/songwriter who does a lot of covers of popular artists, like Drake. Her version of “Come as You Are” is something you wouldn’t expect to like. She slows things down considerably, turning the grunge song into something mellow. Her vocals are relaxing and flowing as she sings the familiar chorus. Her voice is actually beautiful and works really well with the R&B/indie pop vibe of the song she’s set up. The whole thing is really dreamy and soft, something you wouldn’t expect from a Nirvana song.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Patti Smith

For her 2007 covers album Twelve, Smith did a folk rendition of the Nirvana classic. With her wavering vocals and plucks of a banjo, the track sounds fragile and haunting. If it wasn’t for the well known lyrics, it’d be difficult to tell it was a Nirvana song at all just because the mood is so different. Smith takes liberty with the bridge where she starts speaking about injustices and problems within the world. This part isn’t for everyone and it kind of kills the mood, but it wouldn’t be a Patti Smith song if there wasn’t some sort of commentary on society.

“All Apologies” – Cage the Elephant

For a live iHeartRadio broadcast Cage the Elephant, who have always had some similarities to Nirvana, covered “All Apologies.” Unlike Sinead O’Connor’s version, this one doesn’t stray far from the original. It’s very bare bones featuring only Matt Shutlz on vocals and Brad Shultz on an acoustic guitar. Though Matt’s vocals are raspy and raw like Cobain’s, it never sounds like he’s trying to copy the late singer. Instead he does things naturally. His voice works so well, I would love to hear more covers featuring the entire band.

Which Nirvana cover is your favorite? There are a ton out there, so which one did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

Four Years Blogging and There’s Still so Much to Say

Believe it or not I’ve been blogging now for four years. I missed the anniversary almost a month ago thanks to a mass workload, but I wanted to take a minute to address it along with why I started the site in the first place. When I started this site I didn’t have any disillusions about becoming internet famous or getting popular so fast publishers were trying to give book deals. I wasn’t even trying to make money. I was a fresh graduate with a lot of free time who wanted to talk about music. I wanted to learn why I loved and cherished certain music and detested others. My friends didn’t care about my thoughts on the latest Green Day album or whether or not the latest Nirvana re-release was actually worth it. So, I decided to share my thoughts online and hoped at least one other person would be interested enough to follow my ramblings and opinions.

Also, I hate most reviews by major magazines. They’re often written by people who don’t like a certain artist in the first place. They use a lot of fucked up metaphors that may sound good, but do shit all when trying to convey if an album is good or not. I wanted my reviews to be straight forward, yet detailed. If I hated a song I wanted to to express just what it was that made it so bad. Doing this also helped me expand my tastes and find new artists to obsess over. I also figure out which albums I’ve been ignoring for way too long.

Most of all I just wanted to have fun and listen to music everyday. It sucks that I don’t have as much time as I used to to dedicate to the site because I have other writing duties, but I still try to make time. I don’t need fame or recognition to keep me going. I’m just happy when someone drops me a comment saying they enjoyed a review. Even if they don’t agree with what I said I like exchanging different views with other music fans. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how many followers I’d get when I started this four years ago. Now, there are over 100 of you following and I can’t thank you enough. Even though I started the blog for me, I don’t think I would’ve kept it going for this long if no one was interested. For followers new and old, or anyone who has stopped by for one article, thank you for taking time out of your day and reading my stuff. Hopefully, I’ve helped a few of you find some new albums or artists to check out. The site can’t go on forever, but as long as I keep being a music nerd and people still put up with my rants, I’ll keep the blog going for as long as I can.

Here’s to another year blogging.

15 Memorable Beavis and Butt-Head Video Moments

Beavis and Butt-Head were one of the things that made MTV great in the 90s. The duo’s moronic antics at scoring chicks, being cool, and messing with Daria made the show dumb in the best possible way. But what I always felt was the highlight of any Beavis and Butt-Head episode were the videos. They watched some of the most popular and obscure videos from the 80s and 90s and each was accompanied by their weird, hilarious, stupid commentary. They’ve watched so many videos it’s hard to keep track of them all, but here are my 15 memorable Beavis and Butt-Head videos.

15. “Heart Shaped Box” – Nirvana

The boys actually like Nirvana, so they don’t have too many bad things to say about this video. They cheer on their favorite parts while Beavis claims the video is giving him nightmares that look exactly like the video. The most memorable comment of the clip is their criticism of Kurt Cobain moving his hair from his eyes only to have fall back in his eyes. The video ends with Beavis promising to set up his room with stars and lights like the one from the video and Butt-Head retorting “You’re never gonna set up your room and you’re never gonna score.” It’s probably the smartest thing to come out of his mouth. Their commentary on “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is good too.

14. “I Wanna Rock” – DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince

The best moments on the show often come from the two misunderstanding what’s happening. And that’s all this clip is, a simple misunderstanding. This song asks only one question and Beavis thinks Will Smith just isn’t getting it. “He wants to rock right now. C’mon can’t you hear him?!” screams Beavis before freaking out at the song for slowing down. By the end of the song Butt-Head thinks Smith “still doesn’t get it,” but Beavis thinks he can use it to mess with teachers leaving him to think “not paying attention is cool.” Say what, now?

13. “The Caterpillar” – The Cure

When I found out Beavis and Butt-Head watched one of The Cure‘s videos, I couldn’t wait to see what they had to say about frontman Robert Smith. Luckily, they didn’t let me down. Unfortunately, the clip is no longer uploaded online, but the duo mainly wondered why Smith never looks at the camera. Honestly, I never noticed that until they pointed it out and every time I watch the video now I only focus on Smith not staring at the camera. They also mention how his lipstick is on crooked and how he should fix it. It’s a clip that’ll give Cure fans a good chuckle.

12. “Detachable Penis” – King Missile

This is one of the few clips where the duo don’t say anything. Instead they giggle incessantly at the word “penis.” They break from their bubbling laughter only to say “he said penis!” The longer you watch the two losing control, the funnier it is. Soon enough you’re mindlessly giggling with them. On another note, the song itself is really fucking weird. Seriously.

11. “The Family Ghost” – King Diamond

Even though the guys ripped on Grim Reaper plenty of times it’s surprising to learn they hate King Diamond more. Butt-Head even says “this might be the worst crap I’ve ever seen in my life.” They then go on to say Diamond looks like the Count from Sesame Street and how sad the whole situation is. Throughout the whole thing they remain shocked at just how bad it is. Considering how many metal fans love King Diamond it’s really funny to hear them point out just how ridiculous the band is.

10. “Blind” – Korn

“This looks like it might rock…maybe” is how this clip begins, but it’s not until Beavis makes himself dizzy that the genius of it comes in. Getting the high he was looking for he then sounds like a music critic citing everything wrong with the band, how they lack originality, and how they take ideas other bands making them bland. Not only is it funny, but it’s a spoof on all the hatred and criticism that got thrown at Nu-metal. Afterward Butt-Head slaps some sense into Beavis and tells him “you got all dizzy and started talking like a dumbass.” Nice dig there, Mike Judge.

9. “I’ll Stick Around” – Foo Fighters

There are so many hilarious moments from this clip from Butt-Head implying Beavis “swings that way now” to wondering if the band is dressed in white because they drive ice cream trucks. But the best part is when Butt-Head says “Hey it’s the dude from Nirvarna.” Beavis replies “Um I don’t think that dude’s with us anymore. You shouldn’t say that.” It’s a funny and clever way to sneak in a reference to Kurt Coabin’s death that wasn’t nasty or mean. I’m sure at the time it also made viewers take pause and reflect on the newly departed rockstar.

8. “I Alone” – Live

Did you ever wonder if the dude from Live was actually a pull string doll that screams and wets itself? That’s what the duo come up with while watching this video. Watching the clip now it looks pretty ridiculous, but Beavis and Butt-Head knew this while the clip was popular. Why is he making all those faces? Who’s that guy walking around on the set? What is up with that little braid? It’s these observations that show these guys may be dumb, but they at least say what everyone else is thinking.

7. “March of the Pigs” – Nine Inch Nails

Beavis and Butt-Head manage to rip apart this NIN video and make it seem silly instead of intense. Though they like the clip, they bring up several issues by demanding Trent Reznor put down his arms and start the song already. Comments on Reznor stumbling around like he’s drunk, touching other people’s stuff, needing to rehearse more, and wondering where they got those shiny pants makes you see the video differently. It doesn’t seem so intense and heavy in Beavis and Butt-Head’s hands. But the one thing I want to know is why is Reznor touching himself during the second verse? Maybe I don’t want to know after all.

6. “If I Only Had a Brain” – MC 900ft Jesus

This clip is pretty simple but works so well. Butt-Head drivels on about something while Beavis sings the bass line of the track throughout the entire clip. He stops for a second when Butt-Head slaps him across the face, but starts right back up again. No matter how many times he says “shut up, Beavis” he keeps going. Eventually Butt-Head can’t resist and starts doing it with Beavis. It may not be much, but it’s the mindless singing that makes this clip so funny.

5. “Long Hard Road Out of Hell” – Marilyn Manson

This isn’t the duo’s first time watching one of Manson’s videos, but they have the best commentary for this single. Aired during the Thanksgiving special, it starts out with Butt-Head complaining how people go all religious for Thanksgiving followed by Beavis stating “It is a Jewish holiday.” They then go on to confuse Manson for Cher saying she’s gone downhill thanks to “mentopause,” which makes her boobs get smaller and her butt swell up. They later figure out who it really is and wonder how he manages to hide his junk in one scene. It all ends with Butt-Head calling Beavis a lesbian since he apparently wants to have sex with “a dude.” Unfortunately, I can’t find the video online, so enjoy clips from their Thanksgiving special instead.

4. “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” – The Clash

For the majority of this clip Beavis and Butt-Head talk about Seinfeld. Why? Because they believe frontman Mick Jones is Jerry Seinfeld. This prompts them to discuss their favorite characters (the fat guy), that time when you can see Elaine’s boobs, and their favorite episode about “choking their chicken.” It’s hilarious because with his skinny frame, big eyes, and haircut, he kind of looks like the comedian. They finish the clip complaining about the volume of the video not being loud enough, yet they’re too lazy to turn up the TV.

3. “Sweating Bullets” – Megadeth

After watching this commentary from Beavis and Butt-Head, you’ll never hear Dave Mustaine the same way again. After trying to figure which guy was Mustaine, spoiler: it’s all of them, and discussing whether or not he was raised by wolves and why that would be awesome, Butt-Head makes an eye opening observation. “Hey Beavis, this guy talks like you.” Listen to Mustaine sing and Beavis chatter and you’ll see how right Butt-Head is. Hearing this revelation will ruin kick ass songs like “Peace Sells” for quite a long time.

2. “Step Down” – Sick of It All

Whenever I think of memorable Beavis and Butt-Head clips this is the first one that comes to mind. It starts out with Butt-Head actually being right about something: how shitty their lives are. He lists how they have no friends, are not in good health, they’re not happy, and they live in a crappy apartment. But it doesn’t matter since Butt-Head says “we’re cool” right after that. But the thing that makes this clip so great is when the two show off their own dance moves in a similar fashion to the music video. Their moves include “The Dillhole,” “The Bunghole,” and “The Fartknocker Double Inverted Nad Twist.” It’s a hilarious way to pay homage or mock, however you see it, the video they’re watching.

1. “Fear No Evil” – Grim Reaper

These two really hate Grim Reaper. They never have anything nice to say about their videos and they rip this one to shreds. They poke fun at the ridiculous costumes, the corny effects, and the singer, who they think is pretty ugly. When a guy in half a wolf costume pops up Butt-Head wonders if that’s how they draw Wolverine in England. Beavis keeps saying “That’s not Wolverine” until Butt-Head shouts “Shut up, Beavis!” Oddly enough, creator Mike Judge ran into the guitarist of Grim Reaper, who actually loved how mean the boys were and sent them the band’s other clips. Just shows how even musicians have to laugh at themselves once in a while.

What’s your favorite Beavis and Butt-Head video? Any moments that I missed? Let me know in the comments.

Worst Album of 2015

Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings

Montage of Heck was both one of the best and worst things about 2015. The movie was an intimate look at Kurt Cobain and though it may have fudged some things and didn’t really give fans anything new, it finally felt like we had our essential movie about the late rock star. Then comes the soundtrack that shat over all the good the film did. Fans were disgusted with the content and cried exploitation. Look, Cobain has been exploited since his death and we probably should’ve been outraged a long time ago. But that doesn’t stop the soundtrack from being a poor excuse for raking in money.

Out of everything I listened to this year, this soundtrack was the only one I got absolutely no enjoyment from. I wasn’t even halfway through the album before I got bored and wanted to turn it off. As I pointed out in my review, the biggest problem is without Cobain’s perspective the recordings feel pointless and random. There were times where it sounded like my ears were being tortured with all the weird samples, distorted vocals, and various screams. The album was so bad that as a Nirvana collector I refused to buy it. Yes, I still want it for collecting purposes but I don’t want to pay more than 2 bucks. And since the LP only sold 5,000 copies in its first week I’m sure it’ll pop up in bargain bins soon.

The biggest issue with the album is these recordings meant something to Cobain, but they mean very little to listeners. Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings was a poor way to show Cobain’s genius or whatever shit Brett Morgen was spouting. The saddest part about this whole thing was how Cobain had no say over the release. It’s not his fault the record is shitty, but rather the fault of Morgen and his estate for giving it the green light. As many critics pointed out, there isn’t anything new to say about Cobain, so maybe it is time to stop talking about him.