Friday, March 7, 2008

No. 399: Californication

Band: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Album: Californication
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Wow, well, Anthony Kiedis tried to at least sing for the first time since "Under the Bridge." So, there's that.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I really can't stand this band. They're not funky, they beat you over the head with hard rock and Kiedis' awful rap/rock sing annoys me. I can't fucking stand this band.
Best song: "Scar Tissue" is moderately listenable.
Worst song: Everything else sucks.
Is it awesome?: No.

I, uh, kind of can't stand this band. Upon listening to "Californication," all this unhappiness resurfaced.

To recap: The Chili Peppers deal in white guy funk, hackneyed spirituality, almost metal ("Parallel Universe"), actual melody ("Scar Tissue") and general idiocy. They make music for idiots.

That they are popular is more an indication of the crappy state of the music industry than anything. It's an industry based on tired cliches and pushing established (often crappy) bands onto the fawning music press.

Case in point: The AV Club. AV Club isn't the paradigm of indie rock, but, like a lot of the music press, it saw Rick Rubin, a return of John Frusciante and immediately thought "good album."

Through all this, it somehow made one of the most consistent, compelling, and confident—not to mention commercial and Californiacentric—records of its career, largely by going with what it knows.

Doing the same fucking thing, not experimenting and writing a record about the most self-indulgent state in the union? Those are all hallmarks of a good album? I'd suggest it is not.


Anonymous said...

To recap: The Chili Peppers suck because they're derivative, repetitive, non-intellectual and populist. That goes double for CCR. Paradoxically, ZZ Top is great for all the same reasons.


R.J. said...

That's a fair point.

Two things, though. I don't like the Chili Peppers and CCR for different reasons than just being derivative, repetitive, non-intellectual and populist. In each case, there seems to be a cop of a style that doesn't fit (Chili Peppers with funk and CCR with bayou blues) and that cop is poorly executed.

(Though, to take your side for a minute, ZZ Top could be argued are doing the same thing with blues)

Also, I hope I didn't give the impression that I think ZZ Top is awesome. I don't think they're awesome; I think they're lurching white guy rock for Caucasians with no rhythm and no ability to comprehend decent musical changes. I think those singles are undeniably fun and the videos just ridiculous enough to be enjoyable. So, no, ZZ Top isn't great, they're just not abjectly terrible.

Moreover, my unhappiness with the Chili Peppers and CCR -- and I realize I haven't expressed this well, on any level -- is the fandom. CCR is one of the Boomer standard-bearers (listen to thirty minutes of any classic rock station and you'll hear some dumb CCR song) and I get annoyed by that. The Chili Peppers are worse because they are the type of band that attracts big, dumb meatheads, date-rapists and frat guys. People just smart enough to understand that Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park are idiotic, but not mentally agile enough to, you know, buy a Parliament or Curtis Mayfield record.

kellydwyer said...

I loaded this page while on the phone with my girlfriend.

"Holy shit."


"Long story."

I can't believe RS put this piece of shit on the list. Seriously.

kellydwyer said...

And, at the very least, Frank Beard (even while playing electronic drums with a perm) can adopt a Memphis-style, Al Jackson Jr. strut. Nuance, taste, and restraint.

If memory serves, and a 1991 issue of Circus is spot on, Chad Smith used to be a stripper. A bit of a difference.

I actually saw half of a Zed Zed Top show last summer. I live out in the sticks, and Stray Cats and Pretenders were opening for a show out in a shed, the lawn tickets were cheap, and we initiated a bit of a caravan (my parents, gf, brother, his stoner friend) to go mainly because my family and gf are big Pretenders fans.

We didn't stay for the entire ZZ show, but it was fun, it wasn't showy, and the Rev. Billy G. is a damned tasty player.

Garry Shuck said...

I don't mind the Peppers so much, that is to say I don't change the station when they come on, but the idea of buying an album of theirs no longer occurs to me in any way, as you say they've been doing the same thing for 20 years now.

The one exception (and the one cd of theirs I own) is Red Hot Minute, the one with Dave Navarro on guitar; ironically this album has been more or less dis-owned by the band.

KD, love your basketball work, and I agree 100%--this album is in this list? Holy shit indeed.

Garry Shuck said...

By the way, why ya gotta harsh on us self-indulgent Californians? Don't hate us just because we're beautiful...