Back in 1999, Silverchair released their opus Neon Ballroom. It was a departure from their first two (and very awesome) albums. This one though was full of so much more maturity and diversity that it has truly become one of those beloved albums the more the years have gone on. I’ll never forget hearing it for the first time, especially the first song on the album, “Emotion Sickness.” That song on its own is epic and truly remarkable. This live version of “Emotion Sickness” is astonishingly beautiful. Enjoy this. On a personal note (and I’m sure a lot of you will agree with me), Silverchair is one of those bands that really needs to get back together. That would really be something else if they did.
Silverchair- Emotion Sickness Live At Melbourne Park 1999:
I know I keep going back to the 90’s but, it truly was a magical time. Just like the 60’s and 70’s for our parents (well most of ours), the 90’s was a revolution musically for a generation and then some. The sheer amount of groundbreaking and legendary albums from this time is astounding. The legacies that those bands have to this day are beyond what many of them ever expected and the influence and inspiration that those bands and albums have had on countless other bands, well, that’s the gift. There was a band that came out during this time, made up of three teenagers that really left a mark. That band was Silverchair and their debut album Frogstomp, was quite the exceptional record and one that, to this day, still excites people.
Recorded in 9 days in December 1994, Frogstomp would go on to put Silverchair on the map. At the time of recording, Daniel Johns (vocals/guitar), Ben Gillies (drums) and Chris Joannou (bass) were all 15 years old. John’s would later comment on the recording “The songwriting might not be genius, but I think sonically, the performances are really good. It’s really honest; it’s just three Australian kids thrashing it out in the studio and that’s exactly how it sounds.” I couldn’t agree more. Some critics wrote the band off as Nirvana/Pearl Jam wannabes but, they were not some flash in the pan copycat band. These kids had depth and substance to what they were writing. The song “Tomorrow” is a great example of the power and intensity they had. I will admit, when I first heard this song, I thought it was Pearl Jam but, after it was done and they announced who it was, I knew I had to go buy the album. Rolling Stone magazine’s David Fricke had said about the album “Truly shameless wanna-be’s like Bush should be so lucky to have the hard smarts that Silverchair – particularly the band’s main writers, singer-guitarist Daniel Johns and drummer Ben Gillies – show on such Frogstomp-ers as “Pure Massacre” and “Israel’s Son.” When these guys turn 18, they’ll really be dangerous.” Which is quite interesting because by the time they were 18/19, they had released Neon Ballroom, and that album is an Unsung Masterpiece.
Frogstomp is to this day one hell of an album. Everything from the songs, tones, style, grit, and so much more have made this an everlasting album. Songs like “Israel’s Son,” “Pure Massacre,” “Tomorrow,” Shade,” “Suicidal Dream,” “Findaway,” and “Leave Me Out” have stood the test of time and continue to influence and inspire. One of the songs that always grabbed me besides the ones above was the instrumental track “Madman.” The energy of this track is exhilarating and I’ve always wondered what the lyrics and vocals would have been for this song.
This album laid the groundwork for what was to come for this three piece. The strong songwriting ability of Johns along with the powerful tenacity of Gillies and Joannou made this band what it was. If it were anyone else, this band wouldn’t sound the way they did. Throughout their career, they would constantly push themselves to get better and mature. And they did with Freak Show, Neon Ballroom and Diorama. Their album Young Modern, was a strong departure from what the band once was but, it still showed how great of a band they were. Now, if only they would get back together and celebrate what they created, that would be amazing.
Over the past few years there has been a resurgence of bands from the 90’s reuniting. Some have been absolutely great to have back, like Failure, and others, well lets just not mention them. One band in particular that I’d love to see make a return is Silverchair.
Their first three albums are still in constant rotation in my stereo and still hold up. The first album Frogstomp is drenched in teenage angst and despair but, it still resonates with today’s youth. Freak Show is a continuation of that angst but with a bit more social commentary. And Neon Ballroom, the bands pinnacle and most evolved album, is an unsung masterpiece. From start to finish, Neon Ballroom is exactly what the band should have become. Their follow up albums though, Diorama and Young Modern, were a bit sub par and deviated a bit too far from what the band had evolved into. Granted I know that Daniel Johns is a huge Beatles fan, so that pretty much explains why Diorama sounds the way it does. The way the band disappeared after Young Modern is sort of sad. Young Modern was also a giant departure from their rock sound and focused more on electronics and synths. The lyrics even took on a more metaphorical approach but, still retained Daniel Johns poetic touch.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since Silverchair was still a band. I’d really like to see them come back. They were a very underrated band in the sea of grunge/alternative rock bands. When Silverchair released Neon Ballroom, it was cemented that they had the ability to break away from what they were placed in by the critics and media. To this day, that album is one of the best albums of the 90’s, even though it was released in 99.
So what do you say Silverchair? How bout it! Get back out there and kick ass again. The fans want it, and I’m sure deep down you do as well.
I woke up this morning with Silverchair’s “Israel’s Son” stuck in my head. That riff is timeless. Anyways, while delving into my Silverchair albums I sought out seeing what covers they have done, I came across this interesting version of Black Flag’s “Wasted/Fix Me.” I’m still torn as to if I like it or not, but I can tell you that Daniel John’s vocals on it are quite fun and make this cover worth checking out. On a sidenote, the era of Black Flag these songs appear are with Keith Morris on vocals, in case you were wondering.
Silverchair has long been one of my favorite bands. Neon Ballroom is in my top 50 albums of all time. So with that in mind I thought why not rank all of Silverchair’s albums. Here they are from not the best to their best.
As the 90’s came to an end and the music started to evolve, plenty of bands started to add other elements to their sounds to compliment the changing climates. Radiohead is a prime example. One band that really took a sharp turn was Silverchair. Their third album Neon Ballroom, took them to the next level as far as songwriting, production, and performance. Their earlier releases especially Frogstomp were full of untamed rage, despair, and teenage angst. Frogstomp was written when the band were only 14. When Neon Ballroom was released, Daniel Johns, Ben Gillies, Chris Joannou, seemed as though they finally achieved what they wanted to do musically. Lyrically, the songs were more personal and had a feel to them that could be related to just as the early 90’s “grunge” bands. Musically it went beyond the simple drums, bass and guitar, The riffs got more intricate, rhythms more complex, and a new element of strings were used. The first track on the album “Emotion Sickness” takes that approach and mixes their blend of hard rock with a bit of orchestral sounds, thus making it epic, especially at the peak of the song where Daniel sings “get out” in such pain and despair. “Ana’s Song (Open Fire)” was written about Daniel’s bout with anorexia. The first single “Anthem For The Year 2000” has the similar vibe of their previous 2 releases but this time more grown up. Other stand outs on Neon Ballroom are “Miss You Love” “Spawn Again” (which was originally featured on the Spawn Soundtrack), “Black Tangled Heart.” There really is something about this album that allows the listener to grow with the band. Not to mention that this album was name number 25 in the top 100 best Australian albums of all time. Silverchair went on to release 2 other albums after Neon Ballroom, but they don’t compare to how great this album is. Now if only they would just get back together and tour!!