Latest News: nirvana

A Shot of 90s Nostalgia

By 18

The babies of the '80s have achieved enough temporal distance from their upbringing that they can now look back on the 1990s with nostalgia. It's only in hindsight, over a decade removed, that we can actually recognize the characteristics that made the time: our fashion, our technology and, of course, our music. But just talking about '90s music is boring. We all know the big names, the ones that have superseded the decade that wrought them and become established acts that are still active today. The fun in nostalgia is looking back at the ones that you've forgotten. In a way, by rising to fame and then disappearing all within a few years establishes you as a cultural anchor. You can bet that when a “Classic 1990s” radio station surfaces, it's going to feature these guys. Near and dear to my heart is Silverchair, best known in the '90s for being a poor man's Nirvana. Their first claim to fame was through their album Frogstomp and their single "Tomorrow." If that doesn't ring any bells, you might remember “Ana's Song (Open Fire)”, a dark,  personal ballad about anorexia struggles, which got them real MTV traction. The stateside success made them our quintessential Australian band for a good couple of years until The Vines took it all away. They didn't make it up to us in the year 2000, but they remained a megaband that filled stadiums in their native Australia when most Americans traded them in. I'll always remember them for their later highly orchestrated work and lyrics that still make no sense to me. Seven Mary Three, or 7M3 as superfans would call them, are the band responsible for such 1996 alternative rock jams as “Cumbersome” and “Water's Edge.” If, after listening to these songs, you can't remember them filling the airwaves, that is forgivable. They sound like every other band who wished they were Pearl Jam in the '90s. Yet there was a time when these guys were the new hotness, and they reached platinum status in less than a year on that wave of popularity. But all waves crest, and what was once a platinum-level band eventually charts new at #178 in 2001. This is the darkness that awaits us all. The 1990s were an especially exciting time for hip-hop, then a much younger genre that was still developing its canon. When people get nostalgic about '90s rap, (read: VH1's “I Love The 90's” and throwback DJ sets) they always go to the humor of Skee-Lo and “I Wish.” But there doesn't seem to be nearly enough talk about Ini Kamoze and reggae/rap hit, ”Here Comes The Hot Stepper.” Even today, that's still a cool bass groove and it's full of hooks. It’s become one of those songs that people would recognize if they heard it, but don’t know the artist or the song name, if they ever knew it at all. Even fewer people remember the R&B group, 4PM. They had the misfortune of coming up in the time of Blackstreet, 112 and Boyz II Men, so it's no surprise that time has swallowed them whole. Their hit, ”Sukiyaki” is an English cover of a Japanese song and exemplary of everything that was popular in R&B at the time: the group harmonies, the snap-along intro, and of course, the baritone guy doing a spoken word interlude that refers to you as “girl.” It was a simpler time! There are some that say nostalgia is a poisonous idea, that looking to and rehashing the past is a lazy endeavor for people who don't want to make the future. There's something to that! Retromania has its limits, and the future always has the potential to be better than the past ever was. So while I'm always in favor of progress and the cutting edge of now, I can’t help but appreciate the harmlessness of self-contained nostalgia. Not necessarily reverent or condescending, but the type of nostalgia used for looking at washed out family photos. It's more about remembering the old times with our new brains and seeing what they've evolved into: strange landmarks of a time that grow continuously further away.

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Rock & Roll Beefs

By 13

Courtney Love’s recent renewal of her spat with Dave Grohl reminds us that beefs in the music world aren’t just for rappers. Sure, there have been plenty of rap battles – from ones that end in a truce, like Nas and Jay Z (whose white flag to Nas was a record deal with Def Jam) to ones that end in the ground, like the classic Tupac vs. Biggie beef that divided the whole US by its east and west coasts. But when you mix any feuding celebrities with insults and egos, especially when it’s connected to public music careers, you’re bound to get some sparks. Courtney Love vs. Dave Grohl

After accusing former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl of “taking money from [her] child” during legal battles over her deceased husband Kurt Cobain’s band, Courtney Love most recently accused him of also trying to seduce said child. Now that 19-year-old Frances Bean Cobain is all grown up, it’s refreshing to see that she hasn’t inherited her mother’s mental instability. In response to Love’s tweet threatening to shoot Grohl dead (perhaps a bad choice of language, considering the “Courtney-Killed-Kurt” theories) based on the rumor she heard about Grohl hitting on Cobain, her daughter issued this statement: “While I'm generally silent on the affairs of my biological mother, her recent tirade has taken a gross turn. I have never been approached by Dave Grohl in more than a platonic way.” In a display of humility – and publicity – Love tweeted “Bean, sorry I believed the gossip. Mommy loves you.” Grohl, having responded to Love in the past by filing a motion to have her psychiatrically evaluated, decided to go the mature way once again – by having a representative deny all the claims. Winner: Dave Grohl, for keeping his cool when Courtney lost it (again and again) Wayne Coyne vs. Win Butler

In countless documentaries and stories, it seems the true monsters in musicians come out backstage at shows. The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne certainly got a strong (negative) impression from the few shows he’s done with Arcade Fire: “I get really tired of their pompousness …People treat Arcade Fire like they’re the greatest thing ever and they get away with it[…] They have good tunes, but they’re pricks, so fuck ‘em.” Win shot back with the excuse of jet lag and misconception, saying that while he also likes The Flaming Lips’ music, “I hope I was less of a 'prick' then telling Rollingstone [sic] that a bunch of people I don’t know at all are really assholes.” Oh, snap. Winner: You Win some, you Wayne some… Oasis Vs. Blur

The mid-'90s public quarrel between the two Britpop bands took an ugly turn when Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher told The Observer that he hoped Blur frontman Damon Albarn would “catch AIDS and die.” Even if Gallagher did think Albarn was “a f*cking knobber” and “a money-making, commercial pop-machine,” this death wish went a little too far – and was off mark of the guitarist’s usually more original insults, like saying Jack White looked “like Zorro on doughnuts” and that Kaiser Chiefs “play dress-up and sit on top of an apex of meaninglessness.” Though Albarn never did have any good rebuttals, he was the bigger man and recently invited Noel Gallagher to collaborate with him – the musician’s white flag. Winner: Noel Gallagher, by default – coming to a comedy club near you soon (hopefully.) Neil Young Vs. Lynyrd Skynyrd More of a fake feud than a real throw-down, Lynyrd Skynyrd responded to Neil Young’s dismal portrayal of southern folk in his songs “Southern Man” and “Alabama” with this famous line from “Sweet Home Alabama”: "I hope Neil Young will remember / A Southern man don't need him around anyhow." Though their lyrics would suggest otherwise, Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd admired each other’s music and even wore each other’s T-shirts to prove that the musical spat was just in the music for those who couldn’t read in between the ironic and humorous lines. It is even rumored that Skynyrd frontman Ronnie Van Zant was buried wearing a Neil Young T-shirt – though the truth is buried with him. Winner: Lynyrd Skynyrd – majority rules.

Be sure to check out: VSQ Master Series: Nirvana's Nevermind Available at iTunes and Amazon

The String Quartet Tribute to The Flaming Lips Available at iTunes and Amazon

The String Quartet Tribute to Arcade Fire's Funeral Available at iTunes and Amazon

The String Quartet Tribute to Oasis Available at iTunes and Amazon

Rusted Moon: The String Quartet Tribute to Neil Young Available at iTunes and Amazon

The String Quartet Tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd: This Sweet Home Available at iTunes and Amazon

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Music Mondays: Spring Fever

By 15

We're only five days into the month of March and VSQ has already caught a powerful case of Spring fever! With just three more weeks before Spring officially makes its way out of hibernation, we've mustered together a few of our favorite Vitamin String Quartet "Springtime" covers to keep this fever burning until it's official arrival. 1. Dog Days Are Over - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Florence and the Machine 2. Nine in the Afternoon - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Panic! At The Disco 3. Boston - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Augustana 4. Ocean Avenue - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Yellowcard 5. Today - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Smashing Pumpkins 6. Speeding Cars - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Imogen Heap 7. The Cave - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Mumford & Sons 8. Beautiful Day - Vitamin String Quartet Performs U2 9. Chocolate - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Snow Patrol 10. Do You Realize?? - Vitamin String Quartet Performs The Flaming Lips 11. Pumped Up Kicks - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Foster the People 12. Dare You To Move - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Switchfoot 13. Maggie May - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Rod Stewart 14. Look After You - Vitamin String Quartet Performs The Fray 15. In Bloom - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Nirvana 16. Clocks - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Coldplay

Listen to our "Spring Fever" playlist on Spotify now!

What are some of your favorite tracks that put you into "full spring?" Share below!

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The Map of Developing Music Tastes

By 18

What was the first album you ever bought for yourself? If you can't answer without feeling a pang of embarrassment, you understand that the evolution of your personal music taste can take many twists and turns. What was once close to your heart in your adolescence may have you selling records in your teenage years. What if we were able to chart the way people grow to develop their musical taste? What if we could identify the different stages and when to expect them? Well, that ship has come in. I present to you the greatest cartographic accomplishment since the mapping of the human genome: The map of developing music tastes. This is science. Childhood: Kids Music & Your Parents' Music Until about the age of 8, the only music you can conceivably like is kids music, like the songs Sesame Street teaches you. Otherwise, you'll grow a tiny affinity for whatever your parents listen to, whether it's their intent or not. That means that you can grow up listening to anything from AC/DC to Boyz II Men. This is important to note for your current/future babies. Pre-Teens: Whatever's Popular With Teenagers Kids always get their hooks into pop music earlier than people think they're supposed to. For some generations, that means 4th graders that are super into Nirvana. For people of my generation, that meant a bunch of 9 year olds rapping along to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Middle School: Whatever Makes You Cool Middle School, typically ages 11 through 14, is sometimes called The Great In-Between Darkness. It's a time when kids retain the cruelty of small children, but are beginning to manifest the need to fit in. This intersection of selfish apathy and desire produces some strange years, and no, I don't know what projection is. In music taste, this is where most kids conform to whatever makes them cool in their circle: if they're on the fast track to being cool outsiders, they'll hear their first punk song. If they're going to be the top of the social ladder, they'll get into the top pop act of the day, whether that's Michael Jackson or Lady Gaga. High School: The Divergence At long last, people begin to really define their music tastes (and themselves), and the results can be wildly different. What's new is that teenagers begin to realize that music has existed for a while – even before they were born! It's when people start to learn music backwards, as we all do, finding the influences of our favorites and the kings of the genres we love. It's when kids start wearing The Doors t-shirts and memorize Beatles lyrics, things they couldn't pull off before. College and Post-Grad: Eclecticism You know those weirdos that say they like everything except rap? Or those oddballs that hate all country music without having given its rich history a listen? This is when they start listening to a little bit of rap and country. For the rest of us, this is where we get in-depth with our tastes, which, depending on the branching path you took, can mean a Miles Davis phase or brand new genres with names like “Witch house.” And that's where I'm at so far. In the interest of space and saving the rest for medical journals, I'm going to have to cut it off here. Hopefully, with further research and, of course, a ton of grant money, we'll be able to further unlock the secrets of why we like what we like, and perhaps prevent some unfortunate choices before they happen.

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In Defense Of: Soul Coughing

By 18

There's a difference between the iconic music of the 1990s and the music that marked the 1990s. The former is the historically important stuff like Nirvana's Nevermind, the music that echoed from their place in time outward, making an impact on music thereafter. The latter is the music that you associate with the decade, regardless of its actual effect or merit. For a number of reasons, Soul Coughing is one of those bands that marked the 90s and nothing else, so it's easy to see why they might fall into the category of “Not-So-Cool.” Here's why I think that happens: Their biggest hit, “Circles,” is one of those infectious melodies that, a decade removed, many people will recognize but be unable to name. But it doesn't really represent what the rest of their album El Oso sounds like, let alone the rest of their discography. Still, the easily digestible lyrics, bass and country twang stuck with people, especially those who watched Cartoon Network, driving that song into the ground. It didn't help that the band called it quits before the new millennium. With three albums, each with their own hits, spread throughout the 90s, we're inclined to build that permanent association between the decade and their music. On top of that, if you aren't going to leave a crater the way Pavement or Nirvana did, it's easy to see why people may look at “Circles” in hindsight as one of those quirky relics of the past. But being a band of their time doesn't really have to be a hit to their coolness. Because if you take a dive into their discography, you'll find something that is earnestly and truly “alternative.” They employed noise and frills that were seemingly antithetical to the jazzy underpinnings of many of their songs, but instead created an accessible sound that isn't in our ears much these days. They had the ability to turn even the clunkiest, unmusical lines like “I was once misinformed about your intentions” into hot hooks. If Soul Coughing is uncool, then I would think most of that comes from it being dated. They're not yet old enough to be retro cool, but they're no longer new enough to seem cutting edge. At their peak, they were one of the more engaging bands on the radio, with melodies and cadences that put them in the same space as contemporaries like Cake and Odelay-era Beck. Perhaps we would be talking about them in the same way if they had stuck around long enough.

Be sure to check out Vitamin String Quartet Available at iTunes and Amazon

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Get to Know Your Riot Grrrls

By 15

Riot Grrrl. You know the worrrd, but if your knowledge of the topic includes only vague associations with Sleater Kinney and Seattle, there’s plenty more to educate yourself on. Here’s your Riot Grrrl rundown. What was Riot Grrrl? Riot Grrrl was an underground feminist punk movement that existed in the early and mid-1990s. The Riot Grrls were primarily young women, and the movement had a political slant that dealt with issues including sexual harassment and reproductive rights. (The Riot Grrls being against the former, for the latter).The phrase “Riot Grrrl” is strongly associated by the large number of all girl punk bands that emerged from the movement. Where were the Riot Grrls? The movement was based primarily in Olympia, WAPortland, OR, and the greater Pacific Northwest. In 1991, a radio program entitled “Your Dream Girl” and aimed at young women debuted on Olympia, WA radio station KAOS, helping disseminate information and foster the movement’s growth while promoting its music. Do I know any Riot Grrls? It’s likely you do. Bikini Kill was the movement’s biggest underground sensation, collaborating with artists including Nirvana and Joan Jett. Other associated groups included Bratmobile, Excuse 17Heavens to BetsyFifth Column, Calamity Jane, Huggy BearAdickdidEmily's Sassy Lime,The FrumpiesThe Butchies and Bangs. Since Riot Grrrl was a willfully underground movement, most of these bands shunned the major record labels, and instead signed with indie labels including Kill Rock StarsK Records, and Simple Machines. The movement also embraced cassette culture; Artists often recorded their music onto cheap boom-boxes and passed the tapes out to their friends. What else did they do? The rise of Riot Grrl coincided with the rise of DIY ‘zine culture, and many of the women involved in the movement published cut-and-pasted, xeroxedzines that covered a variety of feminist topics, including political implications of personal experiences with sexismmental illnessbody image, eating disorderssexual abuseracismrape and discrimination. Where are the Riot Grrrls now? By the mid-nineties, Riot grrrl had splintered, as many within the movement felt that the mainstream media had misrepresented their message and that the political aspects of Riot Grrrl had been subverted by pop culture. [Think the Spice Girls with their message of “girl power”] Many of the women involved in Riot Grrrl movement are still making music today. Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna went on to form the electro-feminist post-punk group Le Tigre. In 2000, Bratmobile reunited and released two albums. Corin Tucker of Heavens to Betsy and Carrie Brownstein of Excuse 17 co-founded Sleater-Kinney at the tail end of the movement. Although Sleater Kinney disbanded in 2006, Brownstein went on to form Wild Flag. The band is currently on tour. 

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Five Things You Should Know About the Foo Fighters

By 15

The Foo Fighters made headlines in mid-February by doing a run of secret club shows in some of Los Angeles’ most intimate rock venues. Word on the street is that Dave Grohl and the boys were doing the shows not only to make fans lucky enough to be there go absolutely crazy with excitement, but also to amass footage for their documentary Back and Forth, which debuts this week at Austin’s South by Southwest Festival. In honor of the movie, the band and their 17 (holy crap we’re old!) years of rocking without stopping, we give you five things you must know about the Foo Fighters. 1. Foo guitarist/singer/de facto leader Dave Grohl began writing songs on his guitar while he was drumming for         Nirvana. Grohl has said that he was simultaneously awed and intimidated by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain and thus     kept his songs to himself. After Cobain’s 1994 suicide, Grohl was offered a full time gig drumming for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. He declined, and instead went into the studio to record the material he had amassed. 2. Original Foo drummer William Goldsmith left the band in 1996 as a response to Grohl re-recording many of his drum tracks for The Colour and the Shape. Grohl hired drummer Taylor Hawkins, who had just come off a gig as touring drummer for Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill tour, as a replacement. 3. After recording 2002’s One by One, Grohl decided to re-work much of the album before its release. The band ended up re-recording One by One in its entirety, and although the album included the hit “Times Like These” the Foos expressed overall dissatisfaction with the release. Grohl told Rolling Stone that, "four of the songs were good, and the other seven I never played again in my life. We rushed into it, and we rushed out of it." The original album recordings are highly sought after by Foo fans. 4. The Foo Fighters teamed with fellow VSQ favorite Weezer for a co-headlining “Foozer” tour in the fall of 2005. FF are also tight with the surviving members of Queen, whom they’ve played with on a number of occasions, including a headlining show in London’s Hyde Park. The super group performed “We Will Rock You.” 5. In honor of Record Store Day on April 16, the Foo Fighters will release a limited edition vinyl album of covers. The album, called Medium Rare, features the Foo’s take on hits by Cream, Pink Floyd and The Ramones. String Quartet Tribute to Foo Fighters Available at iTunes and Amazon

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Pearl Jam v Nirvana: The Eternal Debate

By 14

“Who’s better?” - how often do we hear that question posed? Whether the discussion revolves around sports, music, politics or pizza, we live in a culture that loves reducing the issue down to two competitors: Beatles v. The Stones, Jordan v. Kobe, Republican v. Democrat. And so goes the debate between music fans over which band rocked it better: Pearl Jam, or Nirvana? But how can you compare the talent of these two iconic groups whose sounds are so distinct yet are both forever linked to the Seattle alt rock / grunge movement from which they were born? You can’t. But what about a discussion of which band was more influential? Clearly, both had staggering early success. The difference here is that Nirvana’s landmark Nevermind followed their lesser-known debut album Bleach, while Pearl Jam’s first release, Ten, was a huge breakthrough success. That said, Nevermind cemented Nirvana as the “face” of a new music movement. Not only did its success help make grunge popular, but it proved the commercial viability of alternative rock in general. In contrast, the success of Ten brought out a host of early detractors, including Cobain, who accused Pearl Jam of selling out with a guitar-lead style that was less than alt rock. Much of this changed, however, when the masses began to see Pearl Jam in concert. The band’s powerful live performances helped establish their identity, and their refusal to make music videos (after Jeremy) -- followed later by their infamous Tickemaster boycott -- further formed their anti-establishment identity.

Does Cobain Reign, or is Vedder Better?

Yet another fruitless comparison. While Cobain’s prominence followed by his early demise may have elevated him to cult-like status along the lines of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, or Jim Morrison -- Pearl Jam’s remarkable success and longevity (including its lead singer’s solo projects) give Vedder equal iconic claim. In the end, both Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder represent individual talents of the top order, whose distinctive voices and creative visions helped propel their bands into the hearts and minds of American youth. Although Nirvana’s run was short but sweet, the continued impact of the band’s albums and the success of its progeny (i.e. The Foo Fighters) put them on equal turf with Pearl Jam, who Allmusic named “the most popular rock and roll band of the ‘90’s.”

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