Monday, September 28, 2009

9/28/09 - Check my brain

Ok, by all rights this should be terrible. '90s band with dead lead singer gets a replacement singer and attempts a comeback? We've seen this movie 1000x before. So why is this song rocking my face off? Well, in the Curious Case of Alice In Chains, there's a couple of factors at work.

1. Prime Alice in Chains is really, really repetitive. Granted, I'm developing somewhat of a retrospective appreciation of AiC, and as a balance to all the Grateful Dead I've been listening to they're a fine palate cleanser. But they are absolutely, unrelentingly dark. Dark harmonies, sludgy drone, and lyrics about dying and addiction from start to finish. Plus, you know the ending is not a happy one for Staley, so it can be a grim listen. It's not like the early oeuvre is untouchably perfect - there's a lot of draggy material.

So, the lightness of a "California's all right -somebody check my brain" lyric nicely balances the punishing heaviness of the AiC sound. A little yin to go with all that yang.

2. Jerry Cantrell wrote a whole lot of AiC material, and he's still around. Vocally, too, he's the architect behind those flat harmonies, so those are still around too.

3. That main riff. Good Lord, it's the sound of someone taking a club made out of concrete and just smashing it into a 500 year old oak tree over and over (and I mean that in the best possible way).

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