Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991

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This is the never-before-told story of the musical revolution that happened right under the nose of the Reagan Eighties--when a small but sprawling network of bands, labels, fanzines, radio stations, and other subversives reenergized American rock with punk rock's do-it-yourself credo and created music that was deeply personal, often brilliant, always challenging, and immensely influential. This sweeping chronicle of music, politics, drugs, fear, loathing, and faith has been recognized as an indie rock classic in its own right.
Among the bands profiled: Mission of Burma, Butthole Surfers, The Minutemen, Sonic Youth, Black Flag, Big Black, Hüsker Dü, Fugazi, Minor Threat, Mudhoney, The Replacements, Beat Happening, and Dinosaur Jr.
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About the author

Michael Azerrad is the author of the bestselling Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana and Screaming Life: A Chronicle of the Seattle Music Scene. His writings on music and musicians have appeared in numerous magazines, including Rolling Stone, Revolver, Spin, and Billboard.
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4.3
726 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Little, Brown
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Published on
Dec 1, 2012
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Pages
528
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ISBN
9780316247184
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Entertainment & Performing Arts
Biography & Autobiography / Music
Music / Genres & Styles / Punk
Music / Genres & Styles / Rock
Music / History & Criticism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A group biography of '90s punk rock told through the prism of Green Day, The Offspring, NOFX, Rancid, Bad Religion, Social Distortion, and more

Two decades after the Sex Pistols and the Ramones birthed punk music into the world, their artistic heirs burst onto the scene and changed the genre forever. While the punk originators remained underground favorites and were slow burns commercially, their heirs shattered commercial expectations for the genre. In 1994, Green Day and The Offspring each released their third albums, and the results were astounding. Green Day's Dookie went on to sell more than 15 million copies and The Offspring's Smash remains the all-time bestselling album released on an independent label. The times had changed, and so had the music.

While many books, articles, and documentaries focus on the rise of punk in the '70s, few spend any substantial time on its resurgence in the '90s. Smash! is the first to do so, detailing the circumstances surrounding the shift in '90s music culture away from grunge and legitimizing what many first-generation punks regard as post-punk, new wave, and generally anything but true punk music.

With astounding access to all the key players of the time, including members of Green Day, The Offspring, NOFX, Rancid, Bad Religion, Social Distortion, and many others, renowned music writer Ian Winwood at last gives this significant, substantive, and compelling story its due. Punk rock bands were never truly successful or indeed truly famous, and that was that--until it wasn't. Smash! is the story of how the underdogs finally won and forever altered the landscape of mainstream music.
• A New York Times Summer Reading List selection • A Publishers Weekly Best Summer Book of 2015 • A Business Insider Best Summer Read • An Esquire Father’s Day Book selection • A New York Observer Best Music Book of 2015 •

A memoir charting thirty years of the American independent rock underground by a musician who knows it intimately
 
Jon Fine spent nearly thirty years performing and recording with bands that played various forms of aggressive and challenging underground rock music, and, as he writes in this memoir, at no point were any of those bands “ever threatened, even distantly, by actual fame.” Yet when members of his first band, Bitch Magnet, reunited after twenty-one years to tour Europe, Asia, and America, diehard longtime fans traveled from far and wide to attend those shows, despite creeping middle-age obligations of parenthood and 9-to-5 jobs, testament to the remarkable staying power of the indie culture that the bands predating the likes of Bitch Magnet--among them Black Flag, Mission of Burma, and Sonic Youth --willed into existence through sheer determination and a shared disdain for the mediocrity of contemporary popular music.
 
In indie rock’s pre-Internet glory days of the 1980s, such defiant bands attracted fans only through samizdat networks that encompassed word of mouth, college radio, tiny record stores and ‘zines. Eschewing the superficiality of performers who gained fame through MTV, indie bands instead found glory in all-night recording sessions, shoestring van tours and endless appearances in grimy clubs. Some bands with a foot in this scene, like REM and Nirvana, eventually attained mainstream success. Many others, like Bitch Magnet, were beloved only by the most obsessed fans of this time.
 
Like Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, Your Band Sucks is an insider’s look at a fascinating and ferociously loved subculture. In it, Fine tracks how the indie-rock underground emerged and evolved, how it grappled with the mainstream and vice versa, and how it led many bands to an odd rebirth in the 21 st  Century in which they reunited, briefly and bittersweetly, after being broken up for decades. Like Patti Smith’s Just Kids, Your Band Sucks is a unique evocation of a particular aesthetic moment. With backstage access to many key characters in the scene—and plenty of wit and sharply-worded opinion—Fine delivers a memoir that affectionately yet critically portrays an important, heady moment in music history.
Their roots lie in the heavy rock of 70s groups like Deep Purple. The music they played—heavy metal mixed with punk attitude—became its own genre: thrash. Their bassist died and they survived to became the biggest-selling band in the world. As grunge threatened to overtake them, they reinvented themselves. Then their singer went into rehab and they almost fell apart. They are Metallica, the most influential heavy metal band of the last thirty years.

As Led Zeppelin was for hard rock and the Sex Pistols were for punk, Metallica became the band that defined the look and sound of 1980s heavy metal. Inventors of thrash metal—Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth followed—it was always Metallica who led the way, who pushed to another level, who became the last of the superstar rockers.

Metallica is the fifth-largest selling artist of all time, with 100 million records sold worldwide. Their music has extended its reach beyond rock and metal, and into the pop mainstream, as they went from speed metal to MTV with their hit single "Enter Sandman". Until now there hasn't been a critical, authoritative, in-depth portrait of the band. Mick Wall's thoroughly researched, insightful work is enriched by his interviews with band members, record company execs, roadies, and fellow musicians. He tells the story of how a tennis-playing, music-loving Danish immigrant named Lars Ulrich created a band with singer James Hetfield and made his dreams a reality. Enter Night follows the band through tragedy and triumph, from the bus crash that killed their bassist Cliff Burton in 1986 to the 2004 documentary Some Kind of Monster, and on to their current status as the leaders of the Big Four festival that played to a million fans in Britain and Europe and continues in the U.S. in 2011.

Enter Night delves into the various incarnations of the band, and the personalities of all key members, past and present—especially Ulrich and Hetfield—to produce the definitive word on the biggest metal band on the planet.

The scandal over modern music has not died down. While paintings by Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock sell for a hundred million dollars or more, shocking musical works from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring onward still send ripples of unease through audiences. At the same time, the influence of modern music can be felt everywhere. Avant-garde sounds populate the soundtracks of Hollywood thrillers. Minimalist music has had a huge effect on rock, pop, and dance music from the Velvet Underground onward. Alex Ross, the brilliant music critic for The New Yorker, shines a bright light on this secret world, and shows how it has pervaded every corner of twentieth century life.

The Rest Is Noise takes the reader inside the labyrinth of modern sound. It tells of maverick personalities who have resisted the cult of the classical past, struggled against the indifference of a wide public, and defied the will of dictators. Whether they have charmed audiences with the purest beauty or battered them with the purest noise, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art.

Ross, in this sweeping and dramatic narrative, takes us from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties, from Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies. We follow the rise of mass culture and mass politics, of dramatic new technologies, of hot and cold wars, of experiments, revolutions, riots, and friendships forged and broken. In the tradition of Simon Schama's The Embarrassment of Riches and Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club, the end result is not so much a history of twentieth-century music as a history of the twentieth century through its music.

Straight out of his beloved Twitter feed @RockCriticLaw, acclaimed rock journalist and author of the classic books Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana and Our Band Could Be Your Life, Michael Azerrad turns his trenchant eye to the art of rock writing itself, hilariously skewering 101 of the genre’s seemingly endless litany of hackneyed phrases and tropes.

One of the finest music writers today, Michael Azerrad has catalogued the shortcuts, lazy metaphors and uninspired prose that so many of his beloved colleagues all too regularly rely on to fill column inches. In 2014, he began his wickedly droll Twitter feed @RockCriticLaw to expose and make fun of this word-hash. Now, he consolidates these "Laws" into one witty, comprehensive and fully illustrated volume.

Rock Critic Law includes timeless gems such as:

If a band pioneered something, you must say they are "seminal." That is the Seminal Law of Rock Criticism.If a recording features densely layered guitars, then you MUST use the phrase "sonic cathedrals."Even when it’s easy to find out with research, by all means ask a band how they got their name.Please feel free to deny an artist’s individuality and say they are "the new [x]."If two guitars play a melodic line in harmony, you MUST say they are "twin lead guitars."

All 101 Rock Critic Laws are accompanied by original illustrations from Ed Fotheringham, beloved Seattle scenester and highly regarded artist who has created album covers for everyone from, well, seminal grunge band Mudhoney to iconic jazz label Verve Records, as well as illustrations for The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and more, making this book a must-have for music lovers everywhere. A unique appreciation of music writing from one of its own, Rock Critic Law irreverently captures all the passion and furor of fandom.

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