With Avengers: Infinity War just over a month away, here’s a primer on the big bad, Thanos, and those Infinity Stones he’s after. You need not be a comic book reader, or even have seen all the Marvel films, to get caught up.
I was a terrible blogger this year. No reviews, no articles, just one post about an album’s anniversary. I didn’t even finish this in time to post it before going out of town for New Years Eve. Oh well, it’s been a crazy year. Here’s a brief run-down of some of my favorite musical moments from 2014.
tl;dr version: My favorite albums of the year were A Thousand Surfaces by Hard Girls and Never Hungover Again by Joyce Manor.
On this day in punk rock history, February 1st, 1994, Green Day’s Dookie was released. If that thought makes you feel old, well, you’d better get comfortable with that because everything else you remember from your teenage years will soon follow suit. The band’s third album and first for a major label, Dookie catapulted Green Day from Bay Area favorites to international superstardom. It peaked at no. 2 on the Billboard 200, eventually went diamond with worldwide sales in excess of 16 million copies, and won a Grammy for best Alternative album. All five of its singles hit the top ten of Billboard‘s Modern Rock Tracks chart, with three of them (“Longview”, “Basket Case”, and “When I Come Around”) topping said chart. Its success led to Green Day playing at Woodstock ’94, Lollapalooza, and Madison Square Garden.
Dookie largely did for punk rock and pop punk what Nirvana’s Nevermind had done for alternative rock and grunge three years earlier: Bring a predominantly underground musical style to the masses and popularize it on an international level. Along with The Offspring’s similarly successful Smash, released just two months later, Dookie is credited with popularizing the sound of California punk rock which, though it had a history going back some 18 years and many notable bands, had largely been below the mainstream radar and existed in regional scenes. The punk rock revival of the ’90s was one of big stages, traveling festival tours, successful indie labels, and hit records. Would all of those things have happened without Dookie? Would some other group have become the poster band for ’90s punk in the way that Green Day did? Maybe, but most writers and critics point to 1994, and the breakthrough success of Dookie, as the tipping point for the genre. And for better or worse, the album epitomizes the ’90s punk revival in much of the mainstream consciousness.
I wasn’t immediately won over by Dookie. At 13 years old, I didn’t yet have what I’d now describe as “musical taste”. I mostly listened to movie soundtracks and Weird Al cassettes. When my younger brother brought home Dookie on the recommendation of a musically-inclined friend, we listened to about 5 minutes of it and decided we hated it. I don’t remember why we felt that way, but we promptly tossed it aside. Fast forward four or five years: Both of us had become fans of ’90s alternative, punk, and ska music, and I was in the midst of a full-on punk conversion with Green Day being right up my alley. We were moving some furniture in his bedroom and found the Dookie CD behind the dresser. I immediately asked “Ooh! Can I have that?” and he replied “No, it’s mine!” We proceeded to fight over its ownership. He kept it, but I eventually got my own copy.
So today, on the album’s platinum anniversary (that’s apparently the term for 20 years), enjoy a little nostalgia by giving it a spin (you know you’ve got a physical or digital copy somewhere). And click “continue reading” to watch all four music videos from the album as well as the band’s entire set from Woodstock ’94, featuring the infamous mud fight.
For your consideration, here are the music, movies, games, and experiences that stood out for me in 2013.
The new Black Flag album, featuring Greg Ginn and Ron Reyes, proves difficult to separate from its surrounding drama and suffers from a watery feel, lack of interesting ideas, and an absence of the personality dynamics that made the band’s original run so interesting.
This is, hands down, my favorite song about New Year’s. It’s from a split CD between The Lawrence Arms and The Chinkees (a ska-punk band from San Francisco fronted by Mike Park of Asian Man Records), called Present Day Memories. It was released in 2001, and TLA later included all their tracks from it on their rarities collection Cocktails & Dreams (2005). It’s a Chris McCaughan song, and his lyrics… that line “I’ve got 100 resolutions, but I’ve got no solutions / I’ve got one song I write 100 times, and only a dozen or so rhymes”, that shit hits home, man.
Speaking of The Lawrence Arms, on January 28th they’re releasing their sixth studio album, Metropole. It’ll be their first studio album in eight years. Who wants to go see them with me February 15th at the Casbah?