Nine Black Alps Everything Is

[Interscope; 2006]

Rating: 1.5/5

Styles: grunge, pop-punk, Brit-pop
Others: Nirvana, Pixies, Nirvana, Idlewild, Nirvana. Also, Nirvana.

I don't really care for Mindless Self Indulgence, but the title of their most recent album did strike me as compellingly apt for my generation: You'll Rebel To Anything. If there's any as bitter a slogan that some snotty punks could have taken up in response to our apathetic, complacent culture, this one sounds like it's worth scrawling on the walls. Really, when Hot Topic and the 50th good-hair/good-looks/no-talent Interpol retread constitutes being edgy, one must call into question exactly how you can be sticking your two fingers firmly in the face of authority when most everyone else in their reasonable vicinity is doing exactly the same.

Speaking of this, Nine Black Alps are the, oh, I don't know, 340th band to come along who are milking nostalgia for fairly recent occurrences (in this case, early '90s grunge-punk), and thus supposedly taking us back into the halcyon days of the start of the last decade when three dudes from Seattle totally showed all those losers listening to Top 40 and glam metal out there that "real" music was all that mattered. Or at least that's what some suits and dubiously perceptive and naïve fanboys want us to think. Hey, if Nirvana had truly won over the masses with their optimistic rhetoric, we'd have no Nickelback; to say that any band who spews back the same seventh-generation, earnest grunge-punk formula is doing music a creative service is not only false, but just plain moronic. Sure, Nine Black Alps may be a more "genuine" concoction of Nirvana's formula, but how can this be considered revelatory or of interest when it comes across as so faceless?

Nine Black Alps are some British lads who like Nirvana a lot (if the title of opener "Get Your Guns" didn't clue you in already), and like their whiney predecessors The Vines, they know that Kurt and company were all about Mudhoney and Pixies, not the bizarre corporate-grunge hodge-podge that hit big in their wake. But instead of forging ahead with this knowledge to produce something actually challenging, the band, like so many others as of recent, take the easy way out and exploit the general public's misconceptions of Nirvana by blatantly, and boringly, churning out standard grunge-punk that earns all its cred solely in that Nine Black Alps would rather channel Hüsker Dü than Boston. Just as others take elements of fantastic bands like Gang Of Four, Joy Division, and The Jesus And Mary Chain into remarkably bland arenas, Nine Black Alps are proof that having admirable influences don't necessarily a great band make.

Everything Is contains 12 crunch-pop tunes that have no unique identifying factors except that they beg to be taken sincerely (with such self-serious names as "Unsatisfied" and "Behind Your Eyes"), and the spit-shine polish makes sure not to offend those who feel an Albini record is way too lo-fi. It's an easy process, folks: take a melody, belt it out, turn up the amps, make it a bit dark, throw in elements of whatever rock-snob favorites are hot at the moment, tell all the brain-dead hipster zombies in their late teens that it's somehow superior to what normally passes for modern rock, and hey, somebody's bound to latch on.

The sad thing is that mundane conveyor-belt "indie" tripe like this is just as disdainful as every 3 Doors Down outfit making the rounds on the FM dial. Tunes like "Not Everyone" and "Shot Down" are just as vapid and banal as the Dawson's Creek alterna-pop that became mass-marketed in the early '90s; now it's just under a newer, more elitist face. What's even worse is that such rock-revival hoo-hah like this is bound to manipulate some clueless pack of rock crits into believing that it's worthy of worship status. Someone's going to argue that folks like the Nine Black Alps are returning rock to a more hallowed place. And where exactly would that be? Is "credible," carbon-copied drivel like this supposed to prove that rock is superior to all those scary rappers and laptop nerds? If you thought immature rock fascism was dead years ago, boy are you sadly wrong.

If Nine Black Alps had come out back in 1999, maybe Everything Is could have been considered to possess some kind of passing relevance, but at this point, easily one of the bleakest in modern music, when 5,000 other bands who sound exactly like this are supposed to rock my world, how exactly do the Nine Black Alps expect to stand out? Innocuous drivel like this (the nadir "Just Friends" could've been completed from a mad-lib) isn't fair to any true lover of music, and the fact that these four will be marketed to the spoon-fed indie kids as some sort of beacon of edgy integrity makes it all the more insulting. Do you hear that? It's the sound of my remaining empathy for current music slowly yawning itself into a coma.

1. Get Your Guns
2. Cosmopolitan
3. Not Everyone
4. Unsatisfied
5. Headlights
6. Behind Your Eyes
7. Ironside
8. Shot Down
9. Just Friends
10. Everybody Is
11. Intermission
12. Southern Cross
1. Get Your Guns
2. Cosmopolitan
3. Not Everyone
4. Unsatisfied
5. Headlights
6. Behind Your Eyes
7. Ironside
8. Shot Down
9. Just Friends
10. Everybody Is
11. Intermission
12. Southern Cross

Most Read