Give Up The Roast is a column that collides delicious caffeine with auditory revelry a la a bi-monthly coffee and album pairing—the perfect combination for perking you up during that midday slump. Here, columnist Shannon Shreibak investigates all of the notes, from fruit rinds and spices to perfect fifths smothered in grinding distortion. So come on all you coffee shop novelists, DIY freaks, and connoisseurs of fine taste—keep your mind here in the GUTR and catch a buzz with us.
For many women who navigated puberty in the midst of ’90’s fuzz-shrouded, flannel-clad grunge scene, Courtney Love was as much of a savior as she was a cautionary tale. Draped in kinderwhore frocks and caterwauling on themes like motherhood, anti-capitalism and self-worth, Love’s artistry in Hole often took a backseat to her contentious public persona.
But it wasn’t the tabloid articles or conspiracy theories that left many young women acutely affected by Courtney Love—it was Hole. More specifically, the LA quartet’s sophomore LP “Live Through This,” an album that combined pop sensibilities with restive hardcore sentiments. Rising from the rubble of her personal life with lyrics like “Someday, you will ache like I ache” and “I love him so much, it just turns to hate,” it was clear that Love had risen from the ashes with both a warning and a challenge in “Live Through This.”
BEHIND THE CURTAIN (BACKGROUND)
Eager to compete with the no-frills “loud-quiet” dynamic of Nirvana’s earth-shattering “Nevermind,” Love sought to infuse Hole’s frantic ‘n frayed sound with more sweet-tooth harmonies. Released just a week following the death of Love’s husband (and grunge legend, duh) Kurt Cobain, “Live Through This” was cast into the shadow of a fledgling cultural movement mourning the loss of its hesher-in-chief.
A coffee to contend with the tumult of Hole is one that must be as timeless as it is defiant of context. San Fransisco’s Sightglass Coffee cranks out a brew just as unfuckwithable and steadfast as Courtney Love and Co. A company that “began as an aspiration to source, produce, and share distinctive, quality-focused coffees,” Sightglass’s bread ‘n butter lies in the balance between complexity and restraint—a coupling that perfectly complements the muddled and chaotic origins of today’s tunes.
BRASS TACKS (THE COFFEE)
Nabbing its name from the viewing window of its vintage coffee roaster, Sightglass’s commitment to quality and nuance within its coffees has launched it to cult status amongst West Coast coffee slingers. Beginning in 2009 as a rickety coffee cart equipped with a couple of Chemex pots and a 2-group espresso machine in San Fransisco, Sightglass has grown into a community space, coffee shop and bastion of source-to-saucer coffee.
The delectable Layo Teraga, Uraga roast hails from a 500-member mill nestled in the lush forests of the Fuji region of southern Ethiopia. The roast boasts a mosaic of floral notes, which is warmly countered by tastes of sugar-caked ginger and mulling spices. While its first few sips can wade in cloyingly sweet territory, a watery finish reminiscent of rooibos mellows any saccharine qualities.
WHITE NOISE (THE MUSIC)
Jilted by the media with a scarlet letter and allegations of child endangerment, Courtney Love was ruminating in the midst of exile as she penned “Live Through This,” a record informed by pop hooks and aesthetic self-assurance. Regrouping after the success of its acclaimed debut “Pretty On The Inside” and the departure of a foundational percussion section, Hole was poised to either make a heroic fall from grace or emerge victoriously from the rubble.
Veering away from Dear Diary stream-of-consciousness narratives and favoring caustic slice-of-life themes,”Live Through This” marks a turning point for Hole both sonically and artistically. The album is heavily inspired by her entrance into the world as a mother, with refrained motifs of milk, domestic violence and motherhood.
“And the title of the record is not a prediction of the future,” Love told SPIN in the oral history of the LP. “It’s, like, fucking live through what I already lived through, you motherfuckers!”
I think I’ll decline that challenge. You?
“Violet” pries open the record with a a shortlived mellow intro that builds into Love’s strident vocals, a dynamic that is reminiscent of Hole’s earlier days. A fence swinging rock jam in which Love dares her critics to “take everything,” it’s an appropriate opening line for this record. “Plump” boasts similar qualities, riding a galloping hardcore riff as Love dallies through the verses and sharpens her teeth on a more grating chorus.
“Asking For It,” which features the album’s title line in the heartbreaking lyric, “If you live through this with me / I swear that I will die with you,” addresses the draining elements of Love’s newfound fame. The record gains momentum with “Jennifer’s Body,” a call for vengeance on which Love gnashes her teeth at the jugular of an ex-lover. “Doll Parts” enlists the aid of a twelve-string electro-acoustic guitar and keyboards that soon gives way to the brutish strength of power chords and Love’s wallops.
To the disgust of the track’s forefathers, the album’s midpoint is marked with a droning cover of Young Marble Giants’ “Credit In The Straight World,” an echo of the anti-elitism sentiments of the record. The LP closes with a middle finger to the riot grrrl scene aptly titled “Olympia,” a lament of Love’s disinterest in becoming involved with the Evergreen State’s burgeoning lady punk movement toward sexual revolution. “Come on, make me sick,” she jibes.
If “Live Through This” states anything loud and proud, though, it’s that the whole world makes Love sick.
Column by Shannon Shreibak. Go forth and be loud with her on Twitter @ShannonShreibak.