Sometimes it feels like the neon thumbprint of the 1980s never went away. It’s arguably the defining throwback aesthetic of American culture today, from the TV series we reboot to the prints we wear. And when it comes to its music, well, that’s even more ubiquitous: The decade was one of great upheaval and innovation, and the seeds it planted continue to flourish. It was a time when disco and punk were in tatters, its artists rebuilding from the rubble with new innovations to birth hardcore and new wave. Rock was getting more ridiculous, with Aqua-Net to spare, but it was also paring back into the thoughtful nexus that would someday be called “indie rock”—or it was throwing up pentagrams, getting sludgier and meaner, and turning into metal. Jazz and ambient were pushing their experimental borders, getting more cinematic and free. Singer-songwriters in folk and R&B were plumbing new depths of the human experience, getting frank about social and gender politics. And hip-hop was evolving at a head-spinning clip, expanding its reach and ambition along the way.
The band’s label, DGC, didn’t intend to promote Incesticide much, clearly considering it a low-stakes time-buying placeholder. Nirvana took advantage of that. Allegedly the band only put it out because Cobain got to make the devastating cover painting and pen the thousand-word essay for its legendary liner notes, which were an indictment of toxic masculinity, a corrective of the exploitative media, and an ode to the underground. Incesticide embodies the free space of punk more than any Nirvana album: part outsider visual art, part punk fanzine, thrillingly raw.
I would place Gracie’s album between Jeff Buckley and the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack. Mark Savage provides an introduction to Gracie.
Oz is the fourth studio album by Australian singer-songwriter Missy Higgins, and was released by Eleven on 19 September 2014. It is Higgins' first cover album, which is accompanied by a book of the same name that collects a series of essays by Higgins; using each song title as a jumping off point. The album's title refers to each of the artists covered being from Australia, as well as being a reference to the land of Oz as established in The Wizard of Oz.
I am always intrigued by cover versions. Missy Higgins’ album of covers is intriguing listening. She provides her own twist on a number of classic and contemporary Australian artists.