Monday, June 15, 2009

10 Reasons Why You Should Give a Shit About Collective Soul

1. Collective Soul founder Ed Roland had worked his ass off for years before fickle fame finally came his way. He started doing production work for some tragic Atlanta bands and released a flop indie solo album 1991.

2. Roland then fronted a band called "Marching Two-Step" who never broke out beyond the local club scene, then decided to just write middle of the road pop tunes for other artists, a plan which also ended in ruins and rejection. The poor guy just couldn't get arrested in the music industry.

3. Lady Luck finally shone her beam of fortune on Roland during the post-grunge madness of 1994, after one of his early songs, "Shine", was re-released on 1993's Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid under the name Collective Soul and started getting airplay on college radio. Labels were snapping up any old thing they could market as remotely "alternative" and Atlantic Records signed Roland and co., hoping they had the next Pearl Jam on their hands.

4. The name Collective Soul was a perversion of a phrase chosen randomly from Ayn Rand's annoying monster tome "The Fountainhead" but according to Roland, "We're not preaching Ayn Rand, objectivism, egoism, or anything. We just dug the name and it could've come out of a Motorcycle Magazine."

5. Even with fame, Roland and his band just couldn't catch a break. The group’s self-titled 1995 second album went triple platinum and sold 5 million copies, yet their evil, soon to be ex manager was only giving them $150 a week to cover all expenses while on tour. Shady!

6. The band poured their angst into their next album, 1997's Disciplined Breakdown, which is, in my opinion, probably the best entry point into the Collective Soul discography for those who have little tolerance for their brand of angst-lite/glossy radio-ready arena rock. At very least, the tightness of the band and glisteningly slick production make for fun if mindless listening.

7. The band continued touring and releasing an album every few years, each with diminishing returns, both saleswise and critically. Meager highlights have included 1999's vaguely electronic ballad "Run" from Varisty Blues, an appearance at Woodstock'99, "Perfect Day" a duet with Elton John, and the T. Rex stomp of "Feels Like" and "Hollywood."

8. It's easy to accuse Collective Soul of being nothing but vacuous genre-hoppers with nary an original idea. From Ed Roland's eager early attempts at hard rock, the debut album's swipe at grunge pop, the vaguely R&B boy-band balladry of 2000's awful Blender album and 2004's glam-lite revival on Youth, they're the kind of band that follows, rather than sets the trends.

9. To be fair, they've never claimed to be anything too deep and have written at least a handful of memorable songs that are good fodder for Adult Alternative radio and possibly karaoke night. Their last release, 2007's Afterwords sold pretty much zilch, but finally garnered some good press, leading critics and naysayers to let up a bit and take note of the fact that the band had finally let go of the pretense of commerciality and developed their own distinct sound.

10. This somewhat creative streak is expected to continue on the new Collective Soul album Rabbit, which is to be released in September of this year on Roadrunner Records. Lead single "Staring Down" is pleasant fluff but is instantly forgettable. Hey, who am I to talk? They obviously still have a ton of love out there in the world, as evidenced by their 3.1 million MySpace fans. Plus, they've always had really great hair.

Collective Soul plays at 7 p.m. on June 18 at the Coeur d'Alene Casino. Reserved: $45
General: $35. Opening Act: Gavin Degraw. Tickets on sale here.

Collective Soul: "Hollywood" Live Tonight Show

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