There is a long running joke/discussion among my best friends about how close Mineral’s guitar licks and tone don’t stray far from that of Temple of the Dog. It’s a stretch, but it brings up the point that we often try to dice apart whole genres so much, and I often wonder why. Is it because there is a distinct sound to the music at hand? Or is it really to separate something you love from something you hate, but secretly love due to popular opinion? Is everything that’s played on the radio awful? No. Given better timing and marketing, some of underground’s most notable acts could have been bigger than they turned out to be.
When listening to Basement’s colourmeinkindness, there are just as many references to indie, grunge and alternative shoegaze as there are allusions of radio’s top 40 at its height in 1996 – a scientific fact, not to be discredited. The album should spawn a Balance and Composure co-headline aptly titled: I Love the ’90s. Like Separation, the tracks not only flow well, but each song builds another reference note to the thesis: from the Enigk croon on “Covet” to the You’d Prefer an Astronaut inspired intro and opening verse on the closing “Wish.” As much as the closer pulls from the space-rock, 120 Minutes favorites, it shifts into a chorus made for the days of early TRL’s youthful angst. At its strongest core, there’s a confidence that’s glazed across each track. The angry attack of riffs on “Spoiled” against the striking snare kills contemporary radio rock, and the heart-racing brace of “Control” is one of the best examples of the shift in the album’s dialogue. The record’s ballad, “Breathe,” is tucked perfectly mid-album to calm some of the adrenaline between Side A and Side B (see also: Poison the Well’s “Horns and Tails” and Jimmy Eat World’s “Drugs or Me”).
In 1997, Blur released “Song 2” as a single off their self-titled album. It was a satire of American grunge and alternative. The irony is that it’s probably Blur’s most well known track worldwide. In 2012, Basement are the next UK band to write a better American “radio rock” record than if you took the top-selling tier of “cock rock” bands and molded a supergroup with a VH1 reality show. The structure and pay-off of the opening “Whole” says more about the downfall of contemporary mass marketed rock music than any Grammy upset ever will. As “Comfort” blends into the album’s closing statement – and one of the best bookends of the year – I think of Cut Teeth, O’Brother, Sainthood Reps and all the other contemporary underground forces who’ve made a bolder statement in a shorter time than most of the tracks covered on a Punk Goes Pop compilation. Seriously, have you heard Attack on Memory this year? Celebration Rock? Where is the hi-fi love for such lo-fi gems.
From the Deftones to the Foo Fighters. From Make Do and Mend to Title Fight. We as listeners put too much emphasis on where a band stands, connected to their sound, connected to whether or not we think they’ve “sold out” or “took a mainstream route with their new material.” Even Kurt Cobain was inspired by The Pixies and R.E.M. as much as he was by Bob Dylan. The Melvins pulled inspiration from their adolescent attachment to KISS. On colourmeinkindness, Basement formulated a near perfect combination of grunge cult and top singles of the ’90s. It should make you aware of the cancer we all carry that is our elitist nature. The band not only wrote what should go down as the best swan song of 2012, but a reminder that a really good fucking rock song, is a really goodfucking rock song – no matter how you tend to define it.