Merry Christmas, Suckers!

Five crappy best-ofs, one preachy live disc, and a partridge in a pear tree

Bad Santa cinched it. I don't just kinda sorta not give a gosh darn about Christmas; I fucking hate its fucking red and green guts and, like Billy Bob Thornton's caustic department-store St. Nick, I'd rather drink myself into a semiconscious, sodomizing, thieving stupor than concede the slightest affection for the holiday season. The gifts suck, the TV specials suck, the lights suck, the Nativity scenes haven't gotten any edgier, and I can only tolerate the carols if Gremlins are performing them en route to massacring elderly heiresses and their cats.

Frankly, animatronic puppets chirping "Silent Night" beats the hell out of pretty much any real-life alternative. Yes, yes, y'all, it's the time of year for best-ofs and live discs, the most gruesome and pathetic of major label cash-ins. Remember how "lucky" we were last year when Courtney, Krist, and Dave called off the dogs and okayed the Nirvana best-of with that previously unreleased piece of uninspired, whiny bullshit, "You Know You're Right"? If you actually forked over an Andy Jackson for that piss-take, as opposed to used copies of their four albums (which you should already own), good one: The Montgomery Burns clones heading the five major label superpowers realized that if we're dumb enough to lap up 13 old Nirvana hits and one fresh, half-assed throwaway, the rest of the mid-'90s alt-rock world is ripe for the pillaging. Cases in point:

 

No Doubt,The Singles 1992-2003 (Interscope) Are you familiar with "feminism"? How about the "riot grrl" movement? Did you know Gwen Stefani invented both? I mean, if Betty Booping "I'm just a girl, lucky me. Twiddle-dum, there's no comparison" over Warped-ready ska-punk didn't capture the sociopolitical plight of young independent women everywhere, I don't know what possibly could. Perhaps only the truly progressive marital lament "Simple Kind of Life," in which Gwen mewls, "You seem like you'd be a good dad," comes close. Hey baby, hey baby, hey: This sucks even worse in retrospect.

 

Pearl Jam,Lost Dogs: Rarities and B-sides (Epic) First they release 1,434,221 live albums years after the world stops caring, now they finally spit out a double hairball of B-sides years after the world stops caring, plus 12 months. Unintentional radio sensation "Yellow Ledbetter" boasts Eddie Vedder's most profound poetry ("On the HOO-HA, on a wishin' on a WAYYARRRRRR!!!") and Dogs gets progressively more, um, "spiritual" from there. As loaded as these guys are, they could've been richer and happier by cashing in on all this supplementary garbage right after Ten, then done all their goody-goody charitable stuff 10 times as effectively. Happy holidays, you assholes.

 

Red Hot Chili Peppers,Greatest Hits (Warner Bros.)I'll concede this: These guys have done cool non-Chili Peppers stuff--participating in legit projects like the Mars Volta, dating Carmen Electra and Demi Moore. Too bad they've never written a song that isn't, at some point, barfy. Nothing beats a cavalcade of wanky L.A. fretblazers (John Frusciante, Dave Navarro) teaming up with a funkateer bass virtuoso and the lamest hippety-hop vocals west of Will Smith. Do me a favor: Attempt "Give It Away" at karaoke, sans alcohol or drugs. Pretty much sums up the Anthony Kiedis experience, although his surfer dude cameo in Point Break is just as effective.

 

Stone Temple Pilots,Thank You (Atlantic)Yes, thank you, for buying a best-of that's inundated with crap from the only three of our five albums that anybody bought, all of which are available for $2.99 at every record store in the country. Enjoy Weiland's creepy Tiny Music-era obsession with Alvin and the Chipmunks-style voice processing. Revel to the Pilots' embarrassing effort to "go back to the hard stuff" with the No. 4 creatine overdose "Down." Cherish the band that, more than any other, made Creed possible.

 

Counting Crows,Films About Ghosts (Geffen) It was really funny when Rolling Stone touted Adam Duritz as the new Bob Dylan. It's really funny when Rolling Stone--keeping it as real as ever with those Britney and Clay covers--touts, well, anything as the new anything. I'm glad this best-of has "Rain King" so we can all relive the most painful, debilitating coda in the history of recorded music: Duritz's priceless declaration, "I am the rain king... YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!" Words don't do it justice, really. Apply tweezers to your genitals as you sing along to experience the full effect.

 

Rage Against the Machine,Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium (Epic) This band has nothing to do with cash cow "supergroup" Audioslave, who should've just truncated the original moniker to Rage ATM. Actually, not many complaints about this one. Decent posthumous addition to the Rage catalog. It lacks the ferocity of the recorded work, but Tom Morello's infamous scratch solos are crisp and on point. Anyway, Zack de la Rocha probably forced these meatheads to work in soup kitchens as opposed to celebrating their Christmases properly, capitalist-style, with those fat royalty checks.

 

Merry black Christmas, ex-alternateens. You pass the Courvoisier; I'll pass the carbon monoxide.

 
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