Good day to you, my Nirvanaheads.
I thought that I was being very clever with my random song selection scheme for this series, but the randomness was perhaps not very clever at all. It has made for some uneven matchups, and some huge favourites showing up too early to make things dramatic. Ah well.
This week’s tracks present a different issue: Overrepresentation of a particular album. As a consequence, I now welcome you to BLEACH BOWL 2021.
Another one of the mid-album grinders off of Bleach, “Swap Meet” shares a lot of DNA with “Scoff”. It’s a collection of riffs that really doubles down on the grunge scene SUBPOP aesthetic, and perhaps not the most memorable stab at this vibe. I still think that this tune has some fun elements, though.
The track opens with one of those intros that sees the guitar riff start halfway through the riff, so when you listen to the song for the first time and the drums come in, you’re like “Wait, what?” I love it when a song does that. The riff has a great chug to it. Lyrically, it’s a bit unique, telling the story of a couple whose lives seem to revolve around making crafts to sell at a swap meet to make enough money to stay afloat and buy cigarettes and keep living their bitter little lives. The verses are delivered in a bit of a ho-hum fashion, but the chorus has that great delivery of “heaaaar-haahht” that makes it a bit more fun.
To me, the most stand out part of the song (as is the case with a bunch of the stuff off of Bleach) is the guitar solo section, which is a truly unhinged piece of guitar work. Pretty wild stuff.
I don’t dislike this song, but nobody is going to call this the best song on Bleach, let alone the best Nirvana song.
Last week we listened to a pretty unremarkable cover song. This week we’re listening to one of Nirvana’s greatest covers.
“Love Buzz” was Nirvana’s first single, and it is a stone cold classic. Although this is a cover, it’s a great showpiece for the band’s talents. The bass work is outstanding, keeping the track bouncy and fun, and it’s also one of the most impressively performed pile of guitar noodles that Kurt Cobain would ever record. The vocal take shifts from sweetly melodic to completely unhinged in a way that feels catchy and infections, but also a little wild.
This is also a track that shows the tremendous pop potential of this band. Yes, it rocks. Yes, it’s noisy. But it’s also so catchy and… danceable? “Love Buzz” has a great vibe and it is a fan favourite for a reason. I don’t think that this song is a top-ten Nirvana song for me, but if you told me that it’s a top-ten Nirvana song for you, I would at least totally see where you’re coming from.
I think that “Swap Meet” is in a similar space to “Scoff”, but “Scoff” has a bit of an edge. “Swap Meet” doesn’t have as impressive a drum performance, and I think that the riffing in “Scoff” is a bit more interesting. It is definitely more interesting than “Ain’t It A Shame”, though.
“Love Buzz” is trickier. I’ll move it ahead of “Been A Son”. I find it funny that the initial decision between “Been A Son” and “Territorial Pissings” seemed so difficult. That’s such a no-brainer now.
“Love Buzz” is probably a better track overall than “Lounge Act” as well, but it is so so close. And “Sliver” only barely edged out “Lounge Act”. I’m going to have to Dial A Friend on this one. BRB.
Upon consultation with the Think Tank, it has been decided that “Love Buzz” has bested “Sliver” and will occupy the number two spot on our ranking. It has not defeated “Territorial Pissings”.
The updated ranking is:
Territorial Pissings is the still greatest Nirvana song of all time!
Live Clip of the Week!
While preparing these posts, the algorithmic powers that be have been tossing so many amazing live performance videos at me. I have decided that I will now end each post with a great live video that we can all just enjoy. Check out this ripper of a “Love Buzz” performance!