Song of the day – 223: Mindy Misty
Grunge. Done badly, it’s horrendous.
(I was going to link to a Silverchair video here, but thought better of it.)
Done well… OK, depends on what you call ‘grunge’. I’m a bit of a purist, when it comes to it. I favour a description that has its roots in the grimy Minneapolis streets of the last Eighties; some of Mark Arm genial’s swagger and Steve Turner’s Mod affiliations; that original simile “Blue Cheer with the amps turned to 11” (despite the fact I never heard Blue Cheer till years later, and even now get them a little confused with Shocking Blue). There again, sometimes I like to dwell on the East Coast: Boston, to be specific. Grunge, the good stuff, makes me think of the windswept hair of J Mascis and sweat-sodden shirts of Chick Graning – that whole line I once wrote about how “Mascis plays guitar like he skis: effortlessly”, something like that. That definition is more to do with a time and place than a specific sound: although the very word ‘grungy’ seems apt in describing the feel and sound of those bands. See also: Smudge. The slacker generation. I’ve always liked that description, away from Hollywood. The slacker generation.
So Mindy Misty. From Norway, with an album out, Generic Communion. Self-confessed Arctic grungers. Their record company writes, “As everyone growing up in the 90’s into good music. we’d be honored to have you review our record“. It’s funny. I rarely associate myself with that era of music. I feel much more of a 1979 boy myself. There again, people’s perceptions of what you’re like rarely have anything to with your own perceptions, as a friend writes. (Or as another former intern once put it: “You’re the least self-aware and most self-obsessed person I know. And I’ve dated lead singers.”) There’s an argument to be had that, past a certain point, only bands from non English-speaking countries are able to successfully recapture the spirit of a generation of UK or US bands, a decade on, because – well, because 1) they have an undeniable love for the music but, more crucially, 2) they have the necessary distance required to reinvest the music with heart, vigour, meaning all over again. This certainly seems to be the case with Mindy Misty, who do Dinosaur Jr better than anyone I can think of since early Teenage Fanclub, but are in no sense a tribute band.
Grunge. Done well, it’s life-affirming.