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Now Playing: Something from three different decades

One Hot Minute, Red Hot Chili Peppers (1995)

Unpopular opinion: I actually like Red Hot Chili Pepper's One Hot Minute. No, I love it. Yeah, I said it. Come at me, bros.

Don't get me wrong, I love John Frusciante just as much as every other fan, and I truly think that it was his style and amazing ability that shaped the Chili Peppers sound that we know of today. (Although much respect is to be given to Hillel Slovak, let's admit that most of the RHCP songs we know are from both Frusciante eras.) Any time I watch an RHCP concert with John, it's like witnessing an apparition. (My favorite is their Live at Slane Castle.) To say that his skills are god-like would be a complete understatement. Listen to the opening riffs of "Snow (Hey Oh)" or the guitar solo at the end of "Dani California" in any of their live performances — a good introduction to their style for anyone who hasn't heard of them — if you're not convinced.

But. I have a soft spot for Dave Navarro's short tenure with the band. I don't know if it's because I generally like underdogs — in this case, the guy people never root for, the guy people hate on and mention right away when asked "Who was the worst RHCP guitarist??" on random online forums, the guy the band members themselves want to forget about — or, I just don't know enough about these things and the musicality of it all to make a proper judgment. But for whatever reason, I just really dig the whole dark, full-on rock aesthetic the Chili Peppers took on during his stay.

Truth is, I didn't really listen to songs from OHM except for "Aeroplane" until a few months ago when my boyfriend upgraded my Spotify to Premium (one of his grad gifts, haha), and I decided to explore their entire discography for study music. But even before this, I didn't think Dave Navarro was a bad fit. In fact, another favorite RHCP live performance of mine is "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" from Woodstock 1994, with Dave at the helm. I know it's a Frusciante-penned song, but damn it, Dave just effin' slayed that song. This is one of those rare instances where, yes, Dave >>> John. The song just became so much more edgy and insane. The riffs went from kinda funky to hardcore, and ugh I just love it so much. (Can you tell??)

Anyway, I got around to giving the Dave Navarro-era some love because I needed new songs to listen to. Needless to say, I loved it so much more than I expected. Please don't throw stones at me and say, "What, you like RHCP when they're less funky?? Not a true fan!" I don't care. I loved it. It was definitely a different flavor than what we — and apparently the band — were used to, but I think it shouldn't be swept under the rug as a forgettable album. It's definitely up there with the good ones, and deserve some more recognition, at least for me. The record was rough and hard and harsh — in a good, incredibly satisfying way. It's something right up my alley, honestly. If you think about it, it's amazing how much their sound changes and evolves with each new guitarist, and especially with One Hot Minute, it really seems like a very Dave record. It's so distinct. I wish the guys remained friendly with each other, if only so they could work on even just one new track, or at least perform some songs from the OHM era. But, alas, I'll content myself with Spotify and YouTube for my RHCP+Dave fix. Thank you Internet.

(P.S. I'll talk about my love for Flea and Chad Smith some other time.)

You Gotta Go There To Come Back, Stereophonics (2003)

Okay so it's no secret that even after many, many years since high school, "Dakota" is still my jam. Name whatever device I have, that song is there. It's been with me on my iPod classic crying over useless high school drama, and it's still with me here as I struggle my way through review. But I wish I could say the same for the other Stereophonics albums. Because apparently they're all freakin' great.

For a long time, I thought my favorite Stereophonics songs were all on Language.Sex.Violence.Other. But turns out, many of them were in either You Gotta Go There To Come Back and Push The Pin. This ignorance is a result of high school senior / college freshman me just downloading songs off Limewire, so I knew squat about where these tracks came from. But now that I know better (LOL) I decided to revisit these old songs I used to just hear on 00's teen shows. And to no one's surprise, these albums are fantastic.

Honesty time: in my teens, I had a few bands that I "fake-liked," — i.e. I only listened to their songs and claimed to like them because I thought they seemed cool. (Shame, 15-year-old, Karla. Or not, because you know, you were just a teenager and didn't know better.) This included Aqualung (I still can't remember any other song aside from "Brighter Than Sunshine"), The Killers, and Foster The People. I've long accepted the fact that I will never like them the way other people do, and it's okay to let them go.

But the Stereophonics, man, there was no pretending there. The few singles that did speak to me then still speak to me now. And the albums from where they came had the same effect. I'm so, so glad I decided to revisit their discography. This 2003 album in particular is so good in its longing and yearning. It's like chasing feelings you can never experience again; like holding on to ghosts that will never haunt you again. Man, it's such a shame that Stereophonics never really took off outside Europe, because this means there's a scarcity of performances and interviews to devour online. This also means there's a very, very slim chance of me seeing them live. (Although with the amount of obscure artists visiting the Philippines, I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.) This record — and the other two albums I mentioned — aged really well. For anyone who wants to dip their toes into some sad (in a good way) Welsh rock, definitely check these ones out.

Concrete and Gold, Foo Fighters (2017)

Let's get this one out of the way: the only other Foo Fighters album I've loved from start to finish was The Colour and The Shape. I have so much respect for Dave Grohl as a vocalist, drummer, default torch-bearer of modern-day Rock Music. (Also for Taylor Hawkins, because drummers are the best.) But the truth is, none of their albums really stand out to me. I know their singles, sure (I still dream of a future moment in my life where "Everlong" will be played in the background, LOL.) Their albums are just okay. Which isn't to say they aren't good — because they are. They're consistently good. It's just that, in the last decade or so, most of their albums have been very, uhm, vanilla. Delicious, but safe. And again, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Who doesn't like vanilla? I bet if you ask ice cream companies, that is their most successful flavor. And really, is there any other more lasting, successful, and genre-defining rock band right now than the Foo Fighters? As far as longevity goes, vanilla isn't a bad path to take.

To quote this line from an FF article I read: "That the Foos’ nearly quarter-century together has produced little in the way of artistic development is exactly the point. Grohl and his pals never set out to write the gospel on modern rock—they only sought to preach it, hammering it into our heads by way of biting hooks and anthemic melodies."

That being said, I think Concrete and Gold is very much an invigorating, exhilarating ride. A typical Foo Fighters album is an above-average one, even without them trying. But this one felt like they really did go out of their way to epistolize something new. The album has its political and critical undertones — but never on the verge of sanctimonious. It's the right kind of encouraging people to the streets — maybe not necessarily to protest (although it can definitely be seen as that), but maybe to free themselves from the shackles of our burdened times. It laments, but also, appeases.

I particularly loved the single "Run." If you close your eyes you can almost imagine yourself in the middle of an arena pumping your fist up in the air with this battle cry. "In another perfect life / we run," Dave sings. And for the next forty-eight minutes, it does feel like nothing can go wrong. You can run. It's anything but a safe, secure sentiment — and it's definitely a freeing one. Although you never really went away, welcome back, Foos.

(Bonus: Watch Dave talk about the creative process behind Concrete and Gold. The animation is so cool! Plus, it's interesting to see the stories behind the artists that got featured in the album.)