Indie/AlternativeMusickReviewsUn-hating Nickelback

(Un-hating) Nickelback – Hesher (1996 EP review)

Nickelback, oh, Nickelback! Honestly, I have no idea why those guys are getting so much hate. It seems to me that unless you’re not dropping at least one meme about them, you simply don’t belong!

Adam Sandler’s unfunny Nickelback’s meme

Personally, I have been aware of Nickelback only because of a few radio hits, but when I’d seen one particular would-be funny joke by unfunny Adam Sandler, along with not so uplifting Dave Grohl’s one (and he probably might have a reason for his attitude), I was prompted to check Nickelback properly.

Dave Grohl’s Nickelback’s meme

So, let’s the Nickelback un-hating begin!

Released in February 1996 and containing 7 songs, this is the best album Nirvana has never recorded. OK, that might be an over-exaggeration, but maybe not that much. At times Chad Kroeger’s voice really sounds like late Kurt Cobain’s vocal and musically guys would try hard to deny the obvious influences of Nirvana, Pearl Jam or Foo Fighters.

Starting with the opener “Where?”, I was pleasantly surprised, the music is great, catchy as hell and I am falling in love with it on the first listen. It’s weird a little in some passages, but that’s OK.

“Windowshopper” is a classic punky grunge and again, Pearl Jam influences in vocals. However, what’s most important – it’s not boring, on the contrary, it’s cheering and somewhat positive sounding.

And with “Fly” it’s hard not to make comparison with Nirvana and especially Foo Fighters, as “learn to fly” part resonates with “learning to fly” from Foo Fighters, but I will repeat myself, I don’t care at all. Actually, I’d say this one is my favourite song from this release.

Oh hell, “Truck” with so much Eddie Vedder’s signature voice pattern! Indeed, when I’ve listened to this EP for the first time, I’d been so surprised – like, guys, that’s so obvious an inspiration, it’s more like a carbon copy! And I am probably right, but considering the time, the grunge wave was still there (slowly morphing into post-grunge), so I guess it didn’t really matter, and again, the songwriting here is solid as a rock, so that’s definitely a problem with me. In the end of the day – how many bands sound the same? You’ve got the point. Exactly.

“Left” is again, a nice grunge tune and those of you who are more experienced with this genre, would probably find more influences here (probably little Soundgarden here and there), but I don’t think it’s the purpose here. “Left” is interesting, but not as catchy as previous songs (which doesn’t pose a problem at all), and I would probably skip it in selective playing, but it’s not as bad as not to endure it while walking or so.

The one before the last is “In Front Of Me” and again, Kurt’s spirit is flying all around the instruments. The longest song on the record (nice 5:34), clearly Nirvanaesque, it hints at the qualities of Nickelback as songwriters, which will truly shine in their later material. Nice tune.

And the last song to go is “D.C.”. And nope, I won’t make comparison to other grunge bands here, you can probably spot the influence yourself. The song itself is relaxing, mid-tempo throwback into the best days of Seattle scene and it’s a fitting finish for this debut EP.

Nickelback

So, what to say? True, Nickelback did really follow in the footsteps of their older companions, but – luckily for them and us, the listeners – they’ve outgrown those shoes. As for “Hesher” – once one gets over the obvious influences – there’s nothing to hate.

Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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