Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Soundgarden's "King Animal"

These are the days of hipsters, indie rock writers and hip new records that are impenetrable to most lacking cred.

Pop music in the mainstream is reduced to a formula. New singers are scouted in front of millions of screaming kids on humiliating TV shows. New bands won't get a look in at record labels unless they sound like the latest band who has just sold 20 gazillion records. Pop stars create controversy for the sake of it, lapping up the additional ticket sales as a result. Most new music can appear to sound all the same...

...and just when you start to feel jaded, a new Soundgarden LP comes along.

Soundgarden split in 1997. A lot has changed in the world since then. Indeed the members mostly haven't been idle - drummer Matt Cameron joined Pearl Jam. Chris Cornell did some solo work and then formed Audioslave with the last three members of Rage Against the Machine. These ventures seemed only to enhance and re-amplify the greatness of their previous albums like "Superunknown" and "Badmotorfinger".

Don't get me wrong - Audioslave were cool, but the plodding heaviness of the Rage rhythm section lacked the intricate, dynamic, elastic groove that Soundgarden could conjure on their good days.

This new album is everything Soundgarden is known for - odd time signatures, intricate arrangements, stellar musicianship, an almost telepathic synergy fueling the interplay between the band members, and all of it done with a minimum of flash and ego.

There might not be a song on here that's as instantly memorable as "Spoonman", and Chris Cornell's voice is extremely raspy these days, but musically the band are on the money. They're tight and the song structures are concise, filled with all the Soundgarden hallmarks without sounding pastiche.

Juxtaposed against any of the other "hip" indie and rock acts of now, it's a real breath of fresh air. It's just what I needed to hear right now.

Below is the new record on Spotify, interspersed with commentary on each song by the Band members.


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