Book review #2: Our Band Could Be Your Life

Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes From the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 by Michael Azerrad. Not sure what to say about this book, other than I was let down a little bit. I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but because of the number of bands it covers, it's very hit or miss. I found the chapters on Dinosaur Jr., The Replacements and Hüsker Dü to be the most interesting, the chapters on Fugazi, Minor Threat and Black Flag to be the most irritating and thought the Mission of Burma and Sonic Youth chapters were about great bands with dull stories.

The winner of the "Deserves Their Own Book" award goes to the Minutemen, who I didn't really know much about prior to reading this, but instantly wanted to buy their music when I was finished.

The "Doesn't Deserve To Be In This Book" award goes to The Butthole Surfers, who look the most out of place lined up with the rest of these bands. I personally believe that the Buttholes are responsible for every crap alternative band formed in the 90s and that the only reason anyone is interested in them at all is because of the "butthole" in their name. Their chapter was a total waste and only made me hate them more. Runner-up goes to generic (but "the first!") grunge band Mudhoney, whose chapter was saved because it also told the much more interesting story of Sub-Pop Records.

Overall, you get the typical self-righteous vibe that comes with doing things independent and cheap and the venom against anyone actually trying to make money. I got the sense that every night these guys crashed on somebody's floor equaled three nights of them bragging about it. People who can't live in meager squalor (i.e. Henry Rollins) are labelled weak. Ian Mackaye is put on a godlike pedestal, which he happily accepts. Like I said, I got a little annoyed.

I found the book's heart to be the Minutemen story -- it was the least pretenious and most emotional. The Minutemen were definitely political and lived simply, but actually seemed to be concerned about how their music sounded too. They actually sang and created tunes rather than hardcore's typical brutish, loud and shouty songs that are spared by being jock jams because of their lyrics. I was in disbelief that Minor Threat and Black Flag seemed to be confused by their predominantly violent male followings. Like, people weren't "getting the message." Give me a break. Oops. Sorry, hardcore...

Also, sorry for that random rant it what is supposed to be a book review. Guess I had more to say than I thought. To sum up, read it for the bands you love, but don't expect to be turned on by the bands you're not sure of...

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