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)

August 1, 2012

Hole ~ Pretty On The Inside

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Style: alt rock, noise
Label: Caroline Distribution
Year: 1991
Home: Los Angeles, California

Members: Eric Erlandson ~ lead guitar
Courtney Love ~ guitar/vocals
Caroline Rue ~ drums
Jill Emery ~ bass

Abrasive but yet not as alienating as expected & very much reminiscent of Patti Smith, completely the opposite of what one might expect looking only a frontwoman Courtney Love's wild woman reputation, are the first thoughts that come to mind listening to this album. I'll confess I never heard Hole's debut until I decided to listen to it to potentially review. While her later albums are more user friendly, abrasive but in a more polished & musically diverse & generally get higher critical reviews I never found them that interesting. I'd put off listening to this as I didn't want to hear more of Hole. I found the later albums punchy & angry for the sake of it with no real internal venom that wasn't being forced out of the musical toothpaste tube. I'd heard similar music done by other bands with far greater skill. I expected to enjoy this much less & not even review it. How shocked I was. I greatly enjoyed this album & its certainly changed my view of the band. Love is so wrapped up in the mystique surrounding her late spouse, the iconic Kurt Cobain, it's easy to forget that Hole, co-founded with guitarist Erlandson, debuted before meeting Cobain. It's also easy to forget that Cobain didn't make Love an angry uncompromising controversial woman, often called slut, manic, troubled ... she was always like this. Hole's debut is witness. Actually, being a former stripper trying to form a band might have made her a bit angrier than later being the all-star wife of an international star, let alone mother. Here the inner demon comes out in more than just anger, but poetry & art that I don't feel the later albums have. Actually, members of the band have said they felt the later music was often fake. This is a East Village album but recorded in Hollywood in so many ways. It's got Love reading poetry alongside shouting out lyrics, while Erlandson churns noisy crooked lines behind her. Producing is Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth & Don Fleming of Velvet Monkeys. It's noisy like Sonic Youth, while later albums move away from that jagged feeling. It's alienating yet sounding familiar. It's Patti Smith & Lou Reed. Some have linked Hole to the Olympia/Seattle centered feminist Riot Grrrl musical movement. Love has been very critical of this grouping, let alone the movement in general, & decries any connection. But, when opener "Teenage Whore" belts out, "Here you come sucking my energy ... I'm not free she says/help me I'm withering", while Love never confessed to being able to play guitar very well, one can't help but see the unintentional similarities. The sound, the energy, the angry woman is all there. But, this is not a feminist album out to change the world. This is not a man-hating or revenge album as Riot Grrrl was often labeled. The difference between Hole & the Riot Grrrl bands is that Love is just angry at anything that crosses her path, not necessarily anything in particular or society or what have you. Love slashes out a few chords, screams & shouts, reads her poetry & has a producer make it sound better than it might in rehearsal. It's not about fancy playing but expressive. Simiarlities, completely coincidental, could also be drawn with Nirvana & their debut Bleach. While the later Nevermind brought them fame, it was also a highly polished & professionally record album compared to the underground rantings & noise of Bleach. Comparing Pretty On The Inside to later Hole, this is Love's Bleach. I should mention I liked Nirvana when they debuted, but I didn't really take a deeper interest until hearing Bleach & immediately loved its rawness over the MTV hits.

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