Category Archives: 120 REASONS TO LIVE

120 Reasons To Live: Gary Young

Nothing did more to further the cause of Alternative Nation-building than 120 Minutes, MTV’s Sunday-night video showcase of non-mainstream acts. For nearly two decades, the program spanned musical eras from ’80s college rock to ’00s indie, with grunge, Britpop, punk, industrial, electronica and more in between. MAGNET raids the vaults to resurrect our 120 favorite and unjustly forgotten videos from the show’s classic era.

#110: Gary Young “Plantman”

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From the 120 Reasons To Live mailbag:

Dear MAGNET,
How about a Pavement video?

No!

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120 Reasons To Live: Unsane

Nothing did more to further the cause of Alternative Nation-building than 120 Minutes, MTV’s Sunday-night video showcase of non-mainstream acts. For nearly two decades, the program spanned musical eras from ’80s college rock to ’00s indie, with grunge, Britpop, punk, industrial, electronica and more in between. MAGNET raids the vaults to resurrect our 120 favorite and unjustly forgotten videos from the show’s classic era.

#109: Unsane “Scrape”

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As entertaining as it is to watch skateboarders and bikers eat pavement in the 1995 video for “Scrape,” the enduring image put forth by New York City’s Unsane is the cover of its 1991 self-titled debut: a photo of a man decapitated by a subway rail, with a cherry-red blood streak that makes it look fake, something completely staged by the horror movie-obsessed guys in the band. But, as Unsane singer/guitarist Chris Spencer told MAGNET a few years ago, it was real. The photo of the man pushed to his death in Union Square was given to bassist Pete Shore by a friend in the NYPD. Though Unsane did go on to stage its subsequent blood-soaked album covers, the band remained true to its dystopian grind and has outlived most of its early-’90s contemporaries (Helmet, Pussy Galore, lots of AmRep bands).

Fun Fact: Both Unsane and Hootie & The Blowfish released albums titled Scattered, Smothered & Covered. Hootie’s title indicated the record was a covers album, while Unsane’s title, well, let’s just say the album cover is an arm sticking out from under a bloody pillow, with a hammer lying nearby.

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120 Reasons To Live: The Mighty Lemon Drops

Nothing did more to further the cause of Alternative Nation-building than 120 Minutes, MTV’s Sunday-night video showcase of non-mainstream acts. For nearly two decades, the program spanned musical eras from ’80s college rock to ’00s indie, with grunge, Britpop, punk, industrial, electronica and more in between. MAGNET raids the vaults to resurrect our 120 favorite and unjustly forgotten videos from the show’s classic era.

#108: The Mighty Lemon Drops “Inside Out”

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Because Echo & The Bunnymen couldn’t be everywhere at once in the late ’80s, Wolverhampton, England’s Mighty Lemon Drops existed. Despite the similarity and the too-dour demeanor of singer/guitarist Paul Marsh (oh, have a drink and lighten up), the band turned out some stylish-sounding jangle rock. “Inside Out” is from 1988’s World Without End—wake me when the Rickenbacker revival happens.

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120 Reasons To Live: Sloan

Nothing did more to further the cause of Alternative Nation-building than 120 Minutes, MTV’s Sunday-night video showcase of non-mainstream acts. For nearly two decades, the program spanned musical eras from ’80s college rock to ’00s indie, with grunge, Britpop, punk, industrial, electronica and more in between. MAGNET raids the vaults to resurrect our 120 favorite and unjustly forgotten videos from the show’s classic era.

#107: Sloan “Underwhelmed”

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And this is how we met cute with Sloan in 1992: a song about crushing on a grammar-challenged girl, delivered by a band that looks like it stepped out of an alternative-rock romantic comedy. It was easy to be charmed by Sloan’s clever wordplay, Canadian articulation and Sonic Youth guitars in the midst of all that Pearl Jam/Stone Temple Pilots growling. Also, it’s a funny coincidence that drummer Andrew Scott is wearing a Teenage Fanclub T-shirt: Sloan and Teenage Fanclub might be the two best bands of the last 20 years. While Teenage Fanclub just kind of mellowed nicely over the last two decades, Sloan has tripped into the 1970s closet of musical styles (soft rock, punk, arena rock) and come out the other side with an impressive mastery of team songwriting, vocal harmonies and classic riffs (check out “Unkind” from last year’s The Double Cross).

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120 Reasons To Live: The Mekons

Nothing did more to further the cause of Alternative Nation-building than 120 Minutes, MTV’s Sunday-night video showcase of non-mainstream acts. For nearly two decades, the program spanned musical eras from ’80s college rock to ’00s indie, with grunge, Britpop, punk, industrial, electronica and more in between. MAGNET raids the vaults to resurrect our 120 favorite and unjustly forgotten videos from the show’s classic era.

#106: The Mekons “Ghosts Of American Astronauts”

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Jon Langford likes to say that his Mekons bandmate Sally Timms has the voice of an angel and the mouth of a sailor. 1988’s “Ghosts Of American Astronauts” proves the first part; the Mekons were rarely as lovely as they are here, which is not an insult for the Leeds, England, punk band that often had other musical goals (namely, raucous takes on U.K. folk and American country music). Truth is, the Mekons are a hard nut to crack. Like the Fall, they’ve been around a long time and have assembled an imposingly long discography that took up almost a whole column in The Trouser Press Guide To 90s Rock; they’re über-political, but that’s confusing when listening to a decades-old album in their catalog; and they do funny art projects like 1996’s sea-shanty Pussy, King Of The Pirates with writer Kathy Acker. So, yeah; there is a mountain to climb. Is this documentary out yet?

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120 Reasons To Live: The Sisters Of Mercy

Nothing did more to further the cause of Alternative Nation-building than 120 Minutes, MTV’s Sunday-night video showcase of non-mainstream acts. For nearly two decades, the program spanned musical eras from ’80s college rock to ’00s indie, with grunge, Britpop, punk, industrial, electronica and more in between. MAGNET raids the vaults to resurrect our 120 favorite and unjustly forgotten videos from the show’s classic era.

#105: The Sisters Of Mercy “Dominion”

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In hindsight, the greatest goth band of all time was also one of the funniest, most ambitious groups ever to appear on 120 Minutes. Take the video for “Dominion”: shot at the same location in Jordan where they filmed part of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. From 1987’s Floodland, an album partially produced by Jim Steinman (Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler, Hulk Hogan), whom the Sisters Of Mercy first connected with while attempting to record an ABBA cover. “Dominion” is like a James Bond movie inside an episode of Game Of Thrones, wrapped in a flour tortilla and stuffed with pizza. There should have been backup dancers. Three guesses as to what is inside the folder being exchanged in this video: a) a manuscript for an unpublished book titled A Gentleman’s History Of Walking Sticks; b) the International Male catalog; or c) Vanna Speaks.

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120 Reasons To Live: Close Lobsters

Nothing did more to further the cause of Alternative Nation-building than 120 Minutes, MTV’s Sunday-night video showcase of non-mainstream acts. For nearly two decades, the program spanned musical eras from ’80s college rock to ’00s indie, with grunge, Britpop, punk, industrial, electronica and more in between. MAGNET raids the vaults to resurrect our 120 favorite and unjustly forgotten videos from the show’s classic era.

#104: Close Lobsters “Let’s Make Some Plans”

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This town isn’t big enough for the both of us. Hi, neighbor. We’ll be moving out soon. If you want 120 Minutes videos without all the annoying commentary, go there.

Close Lobsters? Total C86 band, by which you can only infer they existed in 1986. Other bands on that compilation went on to mid-level international success—Primal Scream, the Mighty Lemon Drops, the Wedding Present (who later covered “Let’s Make Some Plans”)—but 80% of them, well, didn’t. Paisley, Scotland’s Close Lobsters weren’t always as jangly as the Rickenbacker chime of “Plans” suggests; the band had a significant psychedelic/dream-pop side to it that helped push U.K. pop beyond the stranglehold of the Smiths.

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120 Reasons To Live: Felt

Nothing did more to further the cause of Alternative Nation-building than 120 Minutes, MTV’s Sunday-night video showcase of non-mainstream acts. For nearly two decades, the program spanned musical eras from ’80s college rock to ’00s indie, with grunge, Britpop, punk, industrial, electronica and more in between. MAGNET raids the vaults to resurrect our 120 favorite and unjustly forgotten videos from the show’s classic era.

#103: Felt “Primitive Painters”

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The line that connects Television to Belle And Sebastian runs directly through Felt. It’s easy to hear Television’s glassy guitar sounds in “Primitive Painters,” a 1985 single by the Birmingham, England, band led by singer Lawrence and classically trained guitarist Maurice Deebank. What Belle And Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch picked up from Felt is less audible but all too real: the desire to remain as mythical as possible. B&S’s shroud didn’t last long due to popularity; being photographed and interviewed by the press soon became a necessity. The relative lack of interest in Felt (which recorded 10 albums for Creation and Cherry Red) kept the mystery alive, at least to the point where we’re still not 100% certain what Lawrence’s last name is.

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120 Reasons To Live: Daisy Chainsaw

Nothing did more to further the cause of Alternative Nation-building than 120 Minutes, MTV’s Sunday-night video showcase of non-mainstream acts. For nearly two decades, the program spanned musical eras from ’80s college rock to ’00s indie, with grunge, Britpop, punk, industrial, electronica and more in between. MAGNET raids the vaults to resurrect our 120 favorite and unjustly forgotten videos from the show’s classic era.

#102: Daisy Chainsaw “Love Your Money”

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According to most ’90s music histories, England had no truck with the grunge and riot-grrl movements; London’s Daisy Chainsaw proves that just wasn’t true. Whose ragged babydoll dress came first: Courtney Love’s, Kat Bjelland’s or DC singer KatieJane Garside’s? 1992’s “Love Your Money” was a minor U.K. hit and was even smaller in the U.S., evidence that some tradewinds only blew one way back then.

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120 Reasons To Live: Christmas

Nothing did more to further the cause of Alternative Nation-building than 120 Minutes, MTV’s Sunday-night video showcase of non-mainstream acts. For nearly two decades, the program spanned musical eras from ’80s college rock to ’00s indie, with grunge, Britpop, punk, industrial, electronica and more in between. MAGNET raids the vaults to resurrect our 120 favorite and unjustly forgotten videos from the show’s classic era.

#101: Christmas “Stupid Kids”

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If 120 Reasons To Live had any editorial foresight, planning or sense of timing, this post would’ve been published on or around December 25. That way, fewer readers would scratch their heads as to why, exactly, their attentions are being recalled to 1989 and a kooky Boston college-rock band that remains largely forgotten. But we’re here to point fingers in the sky and claim Christmas was important. For one, Yo La Tengo’s James McNew joined Christmas a few years after this video for “Stupid Kids.” For two, members of Christmas went on to form Combustible Edison, which probably requires further explanation but we’ll just say that Combustible Edison was partially responsible for the mid-’90s revival of lounge and cocktail culture. So show a little respect for “Stupid Kids,” whose video is too busy for shirts and too confusing to criticize. Its embedding is disabled by request, so you will need to watch it on YouTube.

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