Friday, December 4, 2009

Review of the Decade - Part 2: Reformations

The Go-Betweens kicked off a trend of bands reforming in 2000. The Go-Betweens had sat out the 90s, leaving Robert and Grant to release solo albums. When The Friends of Rachel Worth came out in 2000, it signified a rebirth for the band, not aping former glories but peddling a brand of world wise melodies which easily stood up with previously released material. After 2 more strong albums (Bright Yellow, Bright Orange and Oceans Apart) the band came to an abrupt end with the passing of Grant McLennan.

American Music Club also (improbably) reformed in 2004. The Love Songs for Patriots album contained a number of great Eitzel songs and bettered any of his solo albums, which served only to prove that he needed the band more than he thought! The band reformed without steel guitar player Bruce Kaphan, and for the follow-up album, The Golden Age, which was a lot smoother-sounding, the only 2 original members were Mark Eitzel and Vudi. Eitzel has continued to put out solo albums also, but the band still appears to be a going concern. Which is a good thing.

The Lemonheads reformed in name but in reality was just Evan Dando plus assorted guests. Their self-titled album in 2006 was a little punkier than their 90s albums and contained some pretty good songs, along with some fairly indistinctive ones, but for the most part it worked. Unfortunately Dando went and blew it all with a pretty useless follow-up album, Varshons, which consisted of some pretty bizarre (in a bad way) covers.

Tindersticks went on a short-term hiatus after 2003’s Waiting for the Moon, during which time singer Stuart Staples (or as he calls himself Stuart ‘A’ Staples) released a couple of solo albums. These didn’t differ greatly from Tindersticks, a little more stripped-down, but dominated by Stuart’s morose croon. 3 of the 6 members of the band regrouped for 2008’s The Hungry Saw which is every bit as good as previous albums, and plans are in place for another album, Falling Down a Mountain, early next year.

Most bizarrely of all, given the untimely death of singer Layne Staley, Alice In Chains reformed with a new singer, William DuVall, and released an album, Black Gives Way to Blue in 2009. And the funny thing is the album sounds like it could have been released a year or two after 1995’s self-titled album. The combination of DuVall and guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s vocals are incredibly close to the Staley/Cantrell combination of before, which is really quite odd when you think about it. Many of the heavier tracks (All Secrets Knowns and Check My Brain) stand up well against the older material, though the slower, less heavy material is a little dull. Word is that pop-grunge kings Stone Temple Pilots, who reformed for touring purposes in 2008 are recording an album, let’s hope it’s not an embarrassment.