There is no disputing that 2010 can be seen as the year that the 90′s have returned with a vengeance. Is it because we have hit the “ten years on from the turn of the decade”, meaning it is now acceptable to reflect on the past in such a manner? Or is it a commentary on the new crop of underachievers, in a “well, this was how it used to be done” fashion, from the Gen-X and so-called slacker generation?
Early in the year came the return of Pavement, firstly with a mighty fine ‘best of’ album, Quarantine the Past, and then an endless global series of tour dates, including a great pre-Coachella set at the Fox Theatre in Pomona. Sonic Youth got into the act, releasing a (vinyl-only) compilation for Record Store Day, and their ‘back to being a four piece’ slots at the Hollywood Bowl & Matador 21 in Vegas were nothing short of blistering. Meanwhile Liz Phair unearthed her legendary Girly Sound tapes, and issued them a bonus disc with her latest album, Funstyle. Guided by Voices were back, complete with their classic band line-up, still toting the coolers of beer on stage and singer Robert Pollard‘s legendary high leg kicks, meanwhile the Matador Records redux continued with a long series of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion reissues via Shout Factory.
Books have popped up waxing lyrical about the decade, such as Sara Marcus‘ treatise Girls to the Front on the Riotgrrrl movement. Later in 2010 Dean Wareham hit the road with his …plays Galaxie 500 live shows, a tour that he brings to the West Coast this week, with a Troubadour date tonight (11/11) in Los Angeles, complementing a set of Galaxie 500 deluxe reissues on Domino Records too. Orchestral pop pioneers Cardinal popped up in reports that they were making a new album. The 90′s invasion was trans-continental even, with a host of participants from across the Atlantic. Everyone’s favorite Glaswegians, Teenage Fanclub, came supporting a new album, Shadows, but peppered their live sets with a host of their past classics from The Concept to Sparky’s Dream (much to the crowds’ delight). And then there were fellow Scots The Vaselines, who released a new album and toured (and yes, we know really they were a product of the tail end of the 80′s). Meanwhile, British dance titans weren’t to be left out, as The Chemical Brothers, Underworld and Massive Attack all released new records (Further, Barking and Heligoland respectively). And most recently chatter has started about a reunion by Britpop favorites Pulp.
But let’s not forget Superchunk, whose latest album Majesty Shredding is on a par with the best moments of their 90′s output, showing that they are still one of the best rock bands around, putting on a stream of live shows that a lot of acts 20 years their junior could learn something from. The term Loser may have been emblazoned on t-shirts (Sub Pop) and on records (Beck), but twenty years on, amidst this year’s 90′s resurgence maybe the question is, “Just who is the loser now?”
- Cool Hand Luke