Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

February 5, 2012

Garbage ~ Absolute Garbage (hits comp)

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Style: British, pop rock, electronica
Label: A&E
Year: 2007
Home: Great Britain

Members: Shirley Manson ~ vocals
Steve Marker ~ guitars/samples
Duke Erikson ~ guitars/keyboards
Daniel Shulman, Mike Kashou ~ bass
Butch Vig ~ drums/loops/sound fx

Additional: Les Thimmig ~ clarinet
Todd Malcolm Michiles ~ record scratching

I remember the first time I saw Garbage on MTV ... after getting over the fact that their name didn't reflect their music but was an interesting PR ploy on some level ... I immediately loved their sonically charged pop with the sexy Shirley Manson on vocals crying out the catchy & seductive "Stupid Girl". Sadly, they ended up fading from MTV & I wondered what happened to them, outside of doing one of the best themes for a James Bond movie. I still get shivers relistening to them many years later ... while with the greatest hits compilation Absolute Garbage I also get to not just relive the past but also update the story on where they went or didn't. Garbage hit the landscape with a very edgy pop sound that brought together sexy teasing vocals, occasionally given a bit of studio nudging, strong memorable rhythms & short bursts of electronica texture & were as moody & vibrant as anything around. Garbage is techno yet alt rock, goth yet commercial, heavy yet soft, noisy & awkward but with fluid arrangements & definetly unpredictable. Absolute Garbage shows the unpredictability that made their individual songs memorable but also ended up hurting their career. While their 1995 self-titled debut might be their commercial highlight, though third release Beautiful Garbage tends to get greater critical praise, Absolute Garbage shows a band going through changes that creates more than just a one-hit wonder that a short life on MTV might lead one to believe. Albeit, it also shows how far they moved musically from their roots & distanced themselves, deliberately or not, from the catchy music the public initially loved, eventually leading to their disbanding. Garbage fashioned a modern sounding 90's rock sound that drew heavily on Euro influences verses the then prodominant grunge sound & pulled together numerous styles from trip hop to Sonic Youth to funk & even goth. They were essentially drawing on everything grunge wasn't. For those wanting an alternative to the angst ridden grunge it's hard not to enjoy Garbage, particularly Shirley Manson's silky voice, even if scratching under the surfaces shows little lyrical or emotional depth beyond its use on the dancefloor ... but it's a lot more exciting than a lot of other dancefloor focused bands, even those with emotional depth. It helps that they were led by alt-rock super-producer Butch Vig who was responsible for Nirana's Nevermind along with working with Sonic Youth, the Smashing Pumpkins & L7. Absolute Garbage wasn't released until the band had broken up, though they'd done a one-off reunion in 2010 & it features one new track (i.e. "Tell Me Where It Hurts") spawned from that moment. The album features alternative versions of some of the early tracks as it was discovered that the masters were lost so there is some incentive to get the album for those that already have the original studio albums, though only hardcore fans will probably be interested in a track-by-track comparisons. Hardcore fans will also enjoy a 2 CD deluxe edition that includes remixed versions of many of the songs, unnecessary for the casual fan or those not interested in techno'd techno, while a DVD/CD version is also available with music videos & a documentary. Unlike many greatest hits collections all the songs were chosen directly by the band, which means all the hits are here but there's also more tracks from the lesser successful later albums than many fans might not choose to put on a proper greatest hits album. The album is in chronological order allowing the flow & development of the band to become obvious but it also shows how they created their downfall by changing their music. It's almost sad to hear on some level. The studio created fabricated sound had its limits & after awhile can only be pushed so far until the dancefloor influence takes over to the detriment of the overall arrangements. Dancebeats aren't sexy no matter how one dances to them. But, giving them a second chance the later songs are still sonically interesting, its just harder to get beyond the thick & alienating commercial sheen. This later era isn't garbage ... but Garbage definetly shows the limits of the musical form, unintentionally giving hope to those who wish to see a future that rises above the unemotional flatness of electronica. The band has since reunited again & plan to release an album in 2012. It'll be interesting to see where their sound now falls.

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