Sirius 24 (Lithium) on random

Steinbeck is at home. But I can’t let the fun stop without it. Really, I haven’t missed it – I’ve been wallowing in the hit-and-miss sea of 90s alternative. Specifically, channel 24 on Sirius – the new Lithium: 90s alternative and grunge.

This is the music I grew up listening to. I was old enough to pay attention to music when Pearl Jam and Nirvana hit the major label scene. So this – especially the early to mid 90s stuff – was my lifeblood. I trailed off, admittedly, around 1996 (the personal discovery of punk, emo and true indie) but have begrudgingly returned to truly enjoy the old Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains stuff I used to rock out to.

Of course, R.E.M. and Radiohead always stuck around with me, but they’re tragically underrepresented. And Nirvana? Well, let’s just say that bands with Dave Grohl and Chris Cornell seem to dominate the channel.

With that, let’s listen.

1. “Steal My Sunshine” – Len

Really? I know this is from the summer of 1999 – I remember hearing it on the radio all the time when I worked at Software Etc. at The Empire Mall. But alternative? No. That’s not correct.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say this is the anti-alternative – a song written especially to anger and annoy every fan of so-called “alternative” music. I mean, sure – I’ll give them Blind Melon and Candlebox. But Len? Are you fucking kidding me?

Sorry. This was a bad way to start.

2. “Spin the Black Circle” – Pearl Jam

Ah, yes – the first single off of Vitalogy, a severely underrated Pearl Jam album and, effectively, the song that turned millions of Pearl Jam fans away.

Seriously – think about it. Was Pearl Jam ever as relevant after vs.? vs. was their heyday – their peak. Now, do you remember the din when this song came out? The radio-ready Pearl Jam fans slowly turned their back, hoping for the next ballad (they got it with “Better Man,” but by then was it too late?)

I still like it.

3. “Change” – Candlebox

Did I jinx myself earlier?

Okay, I’ll admit – I bought this tape when it came out. But, then again, I was at a crossing point in my musical tastes. It was pre-Bad Religion, post grunge. I didn’t know what I liked.

Of course, later that summer, I discovered Green Day. My path was enlightened.

But Candlebox? They suck.

4. “Good” – Better than Ezra

Can I reiterate this fact any more? Oh boy, alternative in the late 90s sucked. Bad.

5. “On a Plain” – Nirvana

Thank you. I was starting to lose faith in music all together.

It’s funny to think how important Nirvana was to people. My friend Jim and I were talking about this the other day. Looking back, the music could have succeeded in any era – any group of disenchanted, adolescent kids could have latched onto these messages of alienation and self-hate. But here’s the thing – it’s really good. It’s not just inflated praise for the music that changed a generation from arena rock to small clubs – it’s true praise. It’s really good.

And this song is one of my favorites. So thanks, Lithium.

6. “Friends of P” – The Rentals

Former Weezer members and the woman who recorded The Who Sells Out without any instruments. Huh.

7. “Longview” – Green Day

See above for what I think about this album and this song. It changed my life from MTV Buzz Bin to punkroxxors LOL!

(And, it’s about masturbation. * giggle *)

8. “Jump, Jive and Wail” – Brian Setzer Orchestra

As someone who has formally taken a swing dance class (about three years after it was cool) and enjoys music that is upbeat and different from the norm, I will admit that I actually like this song.

Now, that doesn’t mean I like it enough to put on my iPod, or enough to actively seek it out, but it is pretty good. I really think it boils down to, “I could dance to this, if necessary, so I should enjoy it from a respect standpoint.”

I do. Give me these guys over the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies any day.

9. “Sex Type Thing” – Stone Temple Pilots

I really thought these guys were the second coming of Pearl Jam when they first broke onto the scene. Actually, they were – they tried as hard as they could to sound exactly like Pearl Jam, right down to the clenched teeth vocals and ascending guitar licks.

Then, they shed the grunge title (just in time) and soared on with cleaner, alternative songs, saving themselves from the grunge backlash that ate up Alice in Chains, Mudhoney and (nearly) Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.

10. “I Can’t Wait One Minute More” – CIV

Holy shit – here’s a song I haven’t heard since it was on MTV. CIV was a sanitized version of the hardcore movement – think Sick of it All and Snapcase, but with a shiny bald guy that used to be a big deal (he was the lead singer of Gorilla Biscuits.) It’s the equivalent of Gwen Stefani going solo and becoming a big deal and creating a new legion of fans that have no recollection of older projects. (No Doubt? Who? And why haven’t I heard any of THAT yet on Lithium?)

That being said, I liked this song a lot. And they played at the Pomp Room when I was in high school, which shows you how big they eventually got.

(Fun Fact – the guy from Sick of it All sings on this song, which makes it great.)

That’s all. Back to work.

This was lovingly handwritten on March 27th, 2007