Nirvana's In Utero (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) is the New Music Pick of the Week

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I don't know what it is about ones high school years that suddenly makes music more meaningful to everyone, but it does.  It seems universal that whenever we reach a certain age, right around 15 or so that music stops being something thats just played in the background, something that is sang along to and enjoyed but utterly disposable to something more real, more personal, more substantial.  For most, it seems, the music that we poured ourselves into during those years are the only songs that really matter the rest of our lives.  Oldies and classic rock stations are built around this notion.  As we grow older, get jobs, raise a family, music becomes disposable again.  Mere nostalgia.

I came of musical age in the early 90s.  That means grunge and the burgeoning alternative scene became the music of my life.  Except, well it didn't.  Those bands were immensely important to me at the time.  I grew my hair long, put Doc Martens on my feet and my entire wardrobe consisted of band t-shirts and long-sleeved flannel.  I listened to Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Dinosaur Jr, The Cure and yes, Nirvana while I was driving at loud volumes, while my parents were out of the house at louder volumes, while I was studying, or reading, hanging with friends, or navel gazing at all hours of the night.  They were my life, my everything.  Until they weren't.  

My musical life, just like my real one kept growing.  In college I found Bruce Hornsby, Willie Nelson and the Grateful Dead.  Hard sounding, perpetually gloomy rock turned into folk influenced, long jammed hippie music.  Since then I've discovered the Decemberists, Wilco, Bright Eyes and so many more bands of so many different sounds and genres.  I still love music and it still speaks to me.

Grunge is still a part of that musical world, but a small one.  Now and again I'll plug in Badmotorfinger or Green Mind or In Utero and relive those days, but mostly I let those memories linger, preferring them to lie in the past.  

When albums like In Utero turn 20 I'm honestly more astonished at how old I've become than how well they've stood the test of time.  And don't get me wrong they have stood that test.  In Utero sounds as raw and real and brilliant as it ever did.  Listening to it again just now not only takes me back to those days, but it still rocks like few things ever do.  

It has turned 20 though, and I am old.  It seems more and more albums from my youth are getting big anniversary releases and I couldn't be happier.   This edition of In Utero comes with four disks which include the original album, loads of b-sides, demos, songs cut for soundtracks and compilations, a totally new remix of the album, and a DVD - Live and Loud: Live at Pier 48 (Seattle, WA 12/13/93).

While I may have moved on from those grungy, alternative rock days, the songs remain a part of my life, a part of who I was.  With this Super Deluxe Edition of In Utero there is plenty of new songs to make it a part of who I am now.

Also out this week that sounds interesting.

Seasons of Your Day - Mazzy Star:  During their first run in the mid '90s I liked Mazzy Star, but never really dug in deep or gave them the time I should have.  In the many years since them I've realized how brilliant they really were and just how beautiful Hope Sandoval's voice really is.  Though it feels out of the blue this, their fourth album and first since 1996 has actually been worked on since 1997, though admittedly sporadic and long delayed.  That makes it a sort of Chinese Democracy for the alt-rock set.  I hope its better than that one and I hope it takes them a lot less time making the next one.

Get Happy - Pink Martini: I've only heard bits and pieces of Pink Martini before - a song here or a song there and yet I have this strange attraction to them, this desire to grab all their albums and love them.  I've yet to do that, but maybe I'll start with this new one.  It has guest appearances from a diverse group including Rufus Wainwright, Phyllis Diller, NPRs Ari Shapiro and, no kidding, the von Trapps (yes those von Trapps, or at least their grandchildren.)

Mechanical Bull - Kings of Leon: After a bit of a hiatus these southern rockers are back with their sixth album.  

Shout! - Gov't Mule: I'm more familiar with Warren Haynes solo work and his performances with the various incarnations of the Grateful Dead sans Jerry Garcia than I am with Gov't Mule.  There is no reason for that other than I've just never had the chance to catch the Mule on tour nor seen many of their bootlegs out there.  Once again, this might be my chance to remedy that.  This, their first album in four years features a bonus disk featuring folks like Elvis Costello, Dr. John, Ben Harper, Jim James, Dave Matthews and many more.

Pioneer Lane - The Watson Twins: Like almost everybody I know the Twins from their work with Jenny Lewis.  But that is enough to make me interested in everything else they do for pretty much forever.  

Let it Snow - Jewel: It isn't even October yet but already we're getting Christmas albums.  Bleh!

Are You Gonna Go My Way (20th Anniversary Deluxe Editon) - Lenny Kravitz : I'm not at all a fan of Kravitz nor this album, but for those who are you get an extra disk of acoustic versions, unreleased songs, an interview and the original album which has been digitally remastered.

The Last Ship (Amazon Exclusive Super Deluxe Editon) - Sting: I haven't cared much for Sting since he left The Police.  This is the soundtrack, of sorts, to a play that he wrote about the demise of the shipbuilding industry in Newcastle.  Talk about your yawn inducing concepts.  Anyways, the Amazon exclusive part is 8 additional tracks, just in case you need a few more songs about out of work sailors.

The Diving Board (Deluxe Edition) - Elton John: The superstar returns to his 1970s singer/songwriter roots with a dozen piano based songs cowritten by Bernie Taupin and produced by T Bone Burnett.  This deluxe set features three new live tracks, a bonus studio cut and a fold in poster.

Heart of Nowhere - Noah and the Whale: I absolutely adored there first album, Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down, but everything after that has done nothing for me.  Maybe it is coincidental that Laura Marling left after that album, or maybe not.  I still have hope though, and that's why I'll be picking this one up.

Safe as Milk - Captain Beefheart: The weirdos first album is being rereleased featuring its original mono mix which was initially altered by the label without Beefheart's participation.

@ - John Zorn and Thurston Moore: Zorn, best known for his wonky, noisy avant guard jazz projects joins Moore who is known for his noisy, feed back tests with Sonic Youth.  Together one can only imagine the crazy noise they'll make.  

Songbook - Allen Toussaint: Legendary New Orleans musician's new one find him playing many of his classic songs in a solo piano setting.

Take Me to the Land of Hell - Yoko Ono & Plastic One Band: I've always heard Ono's music was wild, screechy and nearly unlistenable.  One day I'll actually find out for myself.

Only Slightly Mad - David Bromberg: The only thing I really know Bromberg for is a live version of "Mr. Bojangles" but it is as brilliant a version of that song that will likely ever be played.  I'm happy to see the old man still making music.

Countdown to Extinction - Megadeath:  I can't think of Megadeath without thinking of two kids in my tiny, rural Oklahoma junior high who had long hair and wore jean jackets with Metallica, Iron Maiden and Megadeath patches all over them.  We all thought they were weird until Metallica broke with their Black Album, then we thought they were prophets.  This is a live album from the band recorded in 2012.

Closer to the Truth - Cher:  The elder diva releases her first album in 10 years.  She's naked on the cover.  I'm not sure which of those I'm more shocked by.

That, my friends, is finally all of it.  This is what we call a bank breaking week in new music.  I hope you can afford at least a few things off this list.