Category Archives: 120 REASONS TO LIVE

120 Reasons To Live: The Dentists

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.

#100: The Dentists “Gas”

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How come British indie bands got a perpetual pass on referencing sports (read: football, re-read: soccer)? Don’t they segregate the jocks from the music geeks over there? It’s fine to do it on your own time, Steve Malkmus and the rest of the indie-rock fantasy basketball league, but don’t let it cross over into, say, your album titles. Here’s the flimsy evidence: the Housemartins’ London 0 Hull 4. The Wedding Present’s George Best. The Dentists’ Some People Are On The Pitch They Think It’s All Over It Is Now. The Dentists didn’t get to make a video until 1994’s Behind The Door I Keep The Universe, but they made it count; “Gas” shows off their love of the Soft Boys, Smiths and R.E.M.

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120 Reasons To Live: School Of Fish

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.

#99: School Of Fish “Three Strange Days”

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Don’t press play yet—that’s not the real video for “Three Strange Days.” The real one is not only non-embeddable, it also comes packaged with a commercial for an Ashley Judd movie. Hope your back catalog rots, EMI. Anyway, click play to listen, then quickly open another browser tab and get to work on your NCAA bracketology. Depending on how close you pay attention, you’ll either hear a pretty dopey song about an acid trip or a marvel of ’90s guitar-rock production, which elevates the main riff to listworthy greatness. “Three Strange Days” came from School Of Fish’s 1991 self-titled debut; the band got one more release in with Capitol Records before calling it quits in 1994. No reunions here—singer Josh Clayton-Felt died of testicular cancer in 2000. He was only 32.

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120 Reasons To Live: The Alarm

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.

#98: The Alarm “The Stand”

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The terrible spray-painters in the Alarm weren’t exactly a personal favorite; the band’s inclusion here is more a nod to a not-too-ancient interview with Joe Pernice, who recommended the Welsh outfit’s early period. “The Stand,” inspired by the Stephen King novel of the same name, hails from said early period, the group’s self-titled 1983 EP. You make the call where the Alarm is concerned: Purveyors of overly earnest anthems, or the U2 that should’ve been? (Third option: Ignore this question altogether because it is 2012, after all.)

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120 Reasons To Live: Six Finger Satellite

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.

#97: Six Finger Satellite “Parlour Games”

Man, don’t you hate it when reviewers/critics of music videos completely phone it in? That’s what Beavis and Butt-head did to Six Finger Satellite’s “Parlour Games” (from 1995’s Severe Exposure). C’mon guys—you could’ve at least come up with an angle.

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120 Reasons To Live: The Dandy Warhols

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.

#96: The Dandy Warhols “Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth”

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The Dandy Warhols were making fun of Portland hipsters in song long before Portlandia thought to do the same through sketch comedy. The band’s most complete statement in this regard was 2000’s “Bohemian Like You,” but the sniping began with 1997’s “Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth” and its David LaChapelle-directed video. (It’s funny that LaChapelle’s Wikipedia entry warns readers not to confuse him with comedian Dave Chappelle.) Circa this video, the only other information many music fans might have gathered about the Dandy Warhols is that keyboardist Zia McCabe occasionally played shows topless. Shit like that gets around fast. Lacking the psychic damage of peers the Brian Jonestown Massacre (see: Dig!), it’s no wonder the Dandy Warhols ended up with a major-label contract that, bizarrely, made them rogue outsiders in their native city.

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120 Reasons To Live: Blur

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.

#95: Blur “There’s No Other Way”

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The only point worth making about Blur’s first video appearance on 120 Minutes has to do with contextualization and expectation. At best, it seemed like Blur might be of Charlatans-level interest, and even hardcore stateside anglophiles wouldn’t have rated the band higher than, say, Chapterhouse or Moose. You could argue that Blur’s songwriting didn’t necessarily get any better than “There’s No Other Way”—the group just went on to do things differently.

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120 Reasons To Live: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

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.

#94: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion “Bellbottoms”

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The Black Keys? Really? The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion creeps closer to legend every year. JSBX isn’t dead—they’ve been tabbed by Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum to play the ATP festival this spring—and you probably can’t ever kill them, but the band largely built its reputation on live shows instead of recordings. And sometimes even the recordings are great, as in the case of 1992’s “Bellbottoms.”

On a tangent, MAGNET’s Jud Cost interviewed Spencer in 2010; while discussing his pre-JSBX band Pussy Galore, Spencer offered up one of the greatest rock stories ever told:

Spencer: The classic story is when we did the very last tour with Pussy Galore after Julie Cafritz had left the band, right after Dial M For Motherfucker. It was the lineup with me and Bob BertNeil Hagerty and Kurt Wolf, the four guys. We did four weeks in August, not the best time to tour, all through the south and southwest. The whole tour, Neil had a Samsonite piece of luggage, a big old-fashioned suitcase. But he always wore the same clothes. He’d change his clothes when somebody gave him a T-shirt or he got something at a Salvation Army. We were coming back into the U.S. from playing Montreal going to Boston. And we’re getting stopped at the border and they’re going through our stuff. We’re getting tossed. So, they go to open Neil’s bag, and we’re all standing around. And the only thing that’s in there is a deflated basketball. Neil says his father suggested it might be a good way to stay in shape, to shoot a few hoops.

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120 Reasons To Live: Violent Femmes

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.

#93: Violent Femmes “American Music”

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That the Violent Femmes’ career trajectory is generally regarded as a long, slow downward arc is sad and unfortunate, yet pretty much fair. 1983 debut Violent Femmes was everybody’s adolescence; it was The Catcher In The Rye. But just because you hit your peak early doesn’t mean there’s no life after a hot-shit debut. The Strokes and Interpol know it, too, and there’s eventually no way you’re not going to end up playing casinos and Houses Of Blues, as the Femmes did for their last decade or so. (The band broke up not long after bassist Brian Ritchie filed a lawsuit against frontman Gordon Gano seeking music ownership and royalties; Gano licensed “Blister In The Sun” to Wendy’s in 2007.) 1991’s Why Do Birds Sing? wasn’t exactly a gem—it’s telling that one of the album’s best tracks is a Culture Club cover—but its single, “American Music,” proved the Femmes were still capable of smartass greatness.

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120 Reasons To Live: Blake Babies

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.

#92: Blake Babies “Temptation Eyes”

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Boston’s Blake Babies had one of the finest pedigrees you’re likely to encounter: Named by Allen Ginsberg, the trio studied at the Berklee College of Music. Which doesn’t explain why one of the band’s career highlights was this 1991 cover of a Grass Roots song, a feat that the less-than-soulful Blake Babies seemed ill-equipped to pull off. Juliana Hatfield, drummer Freda Love and guitarist John Strohm got by just fine on their own, but it was always a little more fun when friends were around, either physically (Lemonhead Evan Dando was briefly a band member) or by proxy: “Temptation Eyes” appeared on the Rosy Jack World EP, whose title is a reference to a Frogs song, and the EP also features a cover of a Dinosaur Jr song.

Fun Fact: The Grass Roots’ guitarist was Creed Bratton, a.k.a. the lovable sociopath from The Office.

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120 Reasons To Live: The Smithereens

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.

#91: The Smithereens “Top Of The Pops”

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What other band can claim to be an influence on both Nirvana and The Jersey Shore? It’s the Smithereens, New Jersey’s finest ’80s college-rock band (if you’re not counting the Feelies and don’t consider the Misfits college-rock material). “Top Of The Pops,” from 1991’s Blow Up, is not a cover of the Kinks song “Top Of The Pops,” but it’s at least part homage to Ray Davies and draws an interesting, if somewhat faint, line between Davies and Smithereens frontman Pat DiNizio, two working-class heroes. We’ll save a Smithereens career arc for a later post, but DiNizio has made himself an interesting life out of sheer tenacity, from his 2000 run for the U.S. Senate and a battle with a debilitating nervous-system disorder to pioneering living-room shows and, more recently, engaging in a good old-fashioned run of shows in Vegas.

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