My most hotly anticipated and dreaded moment of 2014 was the imminent release of new Veruca Salt with the original lineup. I anticipated it because I’m of the age where I get totally excited about nostalgia trips and the original Veruca Salt was an awesome fucking band that fell apart at the height of its powers. I really think that we deserved two more good-to-great albums and then the eventual downslope/outright cratering to crap out a contract-finishing album. I dreaded it because, well, Soundgarden. Although seeing Soundgarden live (twice, once at the fucking Riv) since they reunited was both a dream come true and abso-fucking-lutely amazing the new album pretty much sucked. This is the danger of nostalgia trips.
We have new Veruca Salt, since they put out a 10” for Record Store Day.
Good god, people. When I first heard the song my reaction was, “This sounds like something that could fit perfectly on American Thighs.” Turns out, well…
So let’s say you’re in a storied band that fell apart because of internal dissension and now, after nearly a decade and a half, you’ve decided, “Fuck it, we’re back together and we’re going to put out new music.” You know that your fans will be excited but they’ll also probably be worried because this sort of thing happens a lot and it’s often disappointing. So you want to send a message that says, “Don’t worry, we’re here to kick all the ass, take all the names, and then give those names to inanimate objects and mock the now name-less people who can’t refer to themselves in the third person ever again.”
If you’re Soundgarden you go onstage at Lollapalooza with Green Day and then launch into an awesome fucking nostalgia tour in which you play all the songs. Then you release King Animal.
I’m still mad.
Here’s the problem with the “my favorite goddamn band of all time reunited” anticipation: the new music matters. I would be comfortable giving Soundgarden money once a year to go to the Riv and hear them play all the songs I want to hear off of the pre-breakup albums. For the other 364 days of the year, though, Soundgarden being back together doesn’t matter. I can listen to Superunknown and Badmotorfinger just as easily in a world where I know Soundgarden exists as I could in a world where I assumed they’d never get back together again. I truly want to get excited about the fact that the guys are back together and recording new music, but King Animal hasn’t exactly filled me with anticipation. If they’d teased me with “Taree” or “Bones of Birds” before the show I saw at the UIC Pavilion I’d probably have been too disappointed to really care.
The last thing you want to do as a band (I’d assume) is end up like Bachman Turner Overdrive in that episode of The Simpsons where they tried to play their new music and Homer started yelling at them. I kinda felt that way when I saw Soundgarden at the Riv. When they played new shit I was all, “Dammit, play ‘Like Suicide!’” I don’t want to feel that way. I wanted to feel like King Animal was picking up where Down on the Upside left off (or, ideally, where Superunknown left off). Instead it felt like a Soundgarden tribute band that decided to record an album of their own material. I’ve basically taken to pretending the album doesn’t exist.
So that brings us back to this new release by Veruca Salt (and “It’s Holy,” the other song off the 10”, which I’ve also heard, but in a much lower quality recording). Does it prime the pump or make me wish I hadn’t spent so much time anticipating the glorious return of the original Veruca Salt?
I am in. I am wholeheartedly, unreservedly in. “The Museum of Broken Relationships” reminds me of “Forsythia” off of American Thighs. “It’s Holy” reminds me of “With David Bowie” off of Eight Arms to Hold You. Neither song is exactly the same as the one I’m thinking of, which is good. They’re also not blatant rip-offs of the most popular songs off of either album (“Seether” and “Volcano Girls,” respectively).
The two new songs sound like original Veruca Salt announcing, “Hey, we’re back and we’re picking up where we left off.” I am officially enthused and not in a waiting for the other shoe to drop sort of way. Although I am sad because it appears I may have missed out on my Soundgarden at the UIC Pavilion moment, since they announced tour dates and then I forgot to check the sale dates until after the Lincoln Hall show sold out.
Speaking of Chicago bands from the ‘90s, here’s the latest from Local H.
Scott fucking Lucas, man. He can do no wrong as best I can tell. By now I think every other song writer on the planet should be aware of the fact that they’re just biding their time until Scott Lucas records the platonic ideal of their work.
Searching for “Taree” on YouTube revealed to me that enough people apparently confused Soundgarden with Savage Garden that “Soundgarden Truly Madly Deeply” is an auto fill search term. I would pay money to see that cover. Like, seriously, if they follow King Animal with an album of unlikely covers kicked off by “Truly Madly Deeply” I will forgive all.
They didn’t play “Like Suicide” at the Riv. You bet your sweet ass they played it at the UIC Pavilion show. I’ve also seen Chris Cornell solo acoustic twice and I know he did it at one of those shows. So I’m not actually complaining.
In fact, Chris Cornell solo acoustic is pretty much one of the best shows out there. He breaks into these goofy stream-of-consciousness stories between songs. He also has an extremely deep library and will play pretty much anything and everything from his Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, or solo years. He also did Mother Love Bone’s “Man of Golden Words” both times I saw him, which pretty much made me lose my shit.