Now That The Mark McGrath Cruise Exists, We Can Forget The ’90s Ever Happened

Remember around this time about eight years ago when ’80s nostalgia reached its peak and VH1 had that show Bands Reunited, where a bunch of one-hit wonders either did or didn’t get back together and it was equal parts delightful and deeply upsetting? No? Well, it looks like we’ve hit that point in the #Rememberthe90s craze, the veritable Olduvai Cliff of our green slime-coated, Internet-fueled nostalgia. And the party responsible is Sugar Ray frontman and one-time Law and Order: SVU guest star Mark McGrath, who has curated a music cruise lineup that is part S.S. Coachella, part Buzzfeed rewind post.

The Mark McGrath & Friends Cruise will sail from Miami to Nassau from October 18th to 21st, 2013, on a Carnival ship. And the lineup features some key players of alternative rock radio of then and now, including Sugar Ray (who are kind of the ultimate lying-buzzed-on-a-deck-somewhere band, when you think about it), musical Guy Fieris Smash Mouth, Gin Blossoms, Spin Doctors, Vertical Horizon, Marcy Playground, The Verve Pipe, Cracker and the lead singers of Collective Soul and Live doing acoustic sets. If my visions of this cruise are accurate, then every TV on the damn boat is either playing Daria or the early seasons of The Real World, and somewhere, the "Bee Girl" from the "No Rain" video will be traversing the ship, serving up cocktails and yarns from her glory days.

I don’t know about you, but the best part of that for me is obviously the special acoustic set featuring Ed Kowalczyk, frontman of alternative radio staples Live. Sing to me, O muse, of the angst of bros at sea, the songs of many an aspiring busker playing to the lunch crowd at Potbelly. 

The Summer’s Best New iPhone Apps

It’s hard to define summer. Sure, we can throw a road trip, a couple of beach days, and a fling or three in there, but overall, the year’s hottest season is also its most carefree. And no matter where you go and what you do this summer, your trusty little iPhone is your greatest companion to it all. With these six apps, skip traffic and speeding tickets, watch live concerts, discover obscure music, look and sing like a pop star, and save a North Atlantic whale. Why not? It’s summer. Anything can happen.

Scout by Telenav [Free]
Going on a road trip and sick of relying on your map-averse friend in the passenger seat? Get a hold of Scout, the first daily personal navigator for your iPhone that syncs up with your computer and even your car. Using award-winning Telenav navigation, Scout text and voice guides you turn-by-turn to wherever you want to go. The best part: you’ll avoid traffic and speeding tickets thanks to the app’s real-time traffic updates, automatic rerouting, and alerts about red light cameras and speed traps. Suddenly, life got easier.

Auto-Tune Star [$1.99]
The best-selling music app in 40 countries, Auto-Tune Star uses real Auto-Tune technology to help your voice sound just as manufactured as your favorite rockstar! Just sing into the mic, apply and adjust Auto-Tune, play back, and become amazed at how much you sound like Ciara. Songs from your iTunes music library and beats are available, and your recordings can be easily shared via e-mail and Facebook, straight from your beach towel. What a celebrity.

Whale Alert [Free]
Navigating a boat on the East Coast? Interested in whale-watching? Want to save endangered North Atlantic right whales? We think so. This app listens for right whale calls and plots their location on an easy-to-ready nautical map, thus reducing the whales’ collisions with ships and helping to save their lives. Free Willy; get Alert.

Fitocracy [Free]
Slay the laziness dragon (quite literally) with this video game-inspired app that will get you so addicted to fitness, you’ll want to be naked all summer. Check-in to specific fitness routines, earn points, unlock achievements, beat quests, and track the speed of your workouts on your screen. If you still need a fire lit under your ass, compare your progress with other users and compete for fitness domination.

The Vinyl District
Whether you’re sick of Pandora or you just want to get the heck out of your sweltering apartment, consult The Vinyl District: the first-ever GPS-based record store locator app in the US. Press the "All Stores" icon for directions to the nearest independent record shop, share via Facebook and Twitter the gems you’ve uncovered, and spend some much-needed "me" time listening to good tunes.

Moshcam [Free]
So you can’t make it to Bonnaroo, Summerfest, or Camp Bisco – big deal! Who needs ’em when you have Moshcam, an app that provides instant on-demand music streaming of hundreds of recorded music concerts. Choose from the largest catalogue of recorded live videos in the world and watch professionally-shot performances of your favorite artists straight from your phone, anytime you want. Entry-fee, high beer prices, and long lines to the bathroom not included.

New York Opening: Jelsomino

While Mitt Romney is busy mind-bogglingly castigating Obama as a foreign policy lapdog of Putin, real Americans (er, okay, fashionable New Yorkers) will be getting down to some groovy Russian karaoke. Not so much kitsch as brilliantly cheeky, Jelsomino, located in the uptown Dream Hotel is the latest from the Ginza Project, those fabulous Russians who gave Gotham its most glamorous Russian restaurant ever in the form of Mari Vanna.

There’s a main stage, where tipsy exhibitionists will perform to an audience indulging in (what else?) champagne, caviar and oysters, a backstage room for those preferring a more predictable musical experience (a DJ will spin), and a VIP room styled as a recording studio, cleverly limiting one’s possibility for embarrassment to one’s inner circle. A fully postmodern meta experience, the staff are also likely to launch into performance. The interior, with its concrete floors and rough stone walls, is sort of sexy Warsaw-bomb-shelter-chic. Bond theme songs obligatory.

Live (The Band) Lives (Sort of)

Ed Kowalczyk, former frontman for the 90’s-alt-Polish/American-quasi-Christian band Live, has just announced a US tour in support of his appropriately if predictably titled solo album, Alive. According to the press release, Kowalczyk will be touring with the band Miggs and performing old favorites like “I Alone” and “Lightning Crashes.”

Live will always hold a special place in my heart. I saw them in the Brandeis University gym at the ripe age of thirteen. It was the first and only time I ever crowd-surfed. Live is one of those bands that was so bad they were comically good. Totally over-the-top religious-metaphor-laden lyrics combine with vintage alt guitars and loud/quiet/loud dynamics (see the video below for evidence). I’m sure I’m not the only one who used Live as a gateway to more confrontational (and talented) bands like Soundgarden and Nirvana. From what I’ve heard, Kowalczyk’s new record is easily one of the year’s worst releases. But does that really matter? I’d pay just about anything (less than twenty bucks…) to hold my Bic in a sea of swaying flame as Kowalczyk mumbles his way through “Lightning Crashes.” Check out the song’s original video after the jump.

19 Bands We Miss from the 1990s

From pump sneakers to hypercolor clothes to sexual predators in AOL chatrooms, the 90s had it all. But many of the decade’s self-indulgent fads have been lost to history, much like many of the era’s formerly memorable musical acts. Some were really good, some were so bad they were good, and some were bad enough that it’s good they’re gone. There are many ways for a band to die, but dead or not, a few still hold a special place in our memory and/or playlist.

(‘DiggThis’)image1. Beastie Boys – What other band on earth could get away with a line like “I want to stir fry you in my wok” and not sound insane, pathetic, or both? The Beastie Boys helped define rap for the white kids of the 90s, paving the way for Eminem and the like. We miss the Beastie Boys, but at least this band had a good reason for dipping out of the pop scene: Rapper MCA had a difficult bout of cancer. Since he’s alive and well, we think the band needs to breathe the same life back into their careers and put out another album. image2. Soul Asylum – Many people think Soul Asylum was a one-hit wonder. This is totally false. They had two good songs: “Runaway Train” and “Black Gold!” And we’d like to hear more of those two songs on the radio. Where did that runaway train end up, anyway?

image3. Better Than Ezra – This was the perfect middle-of-the-road 90s band. They were not too edgy, not too bold, not too flamboyant, and not too flashy. That may be the reason they fell into obscurity. We may never know, but what’s clear is that “it was good living with you,” Better Than Ezra. It was damn good.
image4. Soundgarden – Soundgarden helped create the grunge rock scene, but they always seem to get overlooked. Nirvana and Pearl Jam somehow managed to squeeze Chris Cornell and the boys out of the limelight. For years we’ve longed for the day when Soundgarden would darken our sky once more with a “Black Hole Sun.” And with a reunion plan in the works, it looks like our pathetic little prayers may have been answered.

image5. Nine Inch Nails – While Nine Inch Nails didn’t completely disappear, Trent Reznor and the gang sure seem to have been in hiding over the past decade. Perhaps his pale skin keeps him from coming out into the open. Sure, he used to spend a great deal of time on social networking sites like Twitter, but he swore off them in mid-2009 after having one too many run-ins with a group of internet trolls. From the looks of it, he may have sworn off getting his music on the radio as well. image6. Björk – Björk is actually still around, but she’s not doing anything notable. In our opinion, the world needs more music videos with cute rocker chicks dancing on moving semi trucks. While Björk wasn’t the biggest hit of the 90s, she certainly made her mark. She’s by far our favorite 90s rocker to come out of Iceland anyway.
image7. Smashing Pumpkins – The world needs more old-school Smashing Pumpkins. We’re not just talking about the band. We should all go out and smash some more pumpkins. The radio of the 90s was dominated by the swill of watered-down ska and pseudo-big bands. Luckily, the Pumpkins were there to cut through the crap. They broke up in 2000 and have since reunited, but it’s just not the same. Oh well, despite all my rage, yada yada yada.

image8. Rage Against The Machine – Rage was just too angsty to stay together for a whole decade. It wasn’t that their music was dated or anything, but after Tibet was freed (right?) their mission as a band was accomplished, and they all decided to concentrate on other things. Recently, they did get together to play some of their old songs, but a complete reunion hasn’t happened. We want our Rage. image9. 311 – 311 had some serious hits, but we hardly ever hear them on the radio anymore. This is probably due to their name. Since it’s comprised only of numbers, it doesn’t show up on the alphabetical lists used by modern DJs. If they had been named AAB, we’d hear them all the time, and it would be awesome.

image10. The Pixies – When people think of the Pixies, they tend to imagine buildings crashing down while Edward Norton holds hands with Helena Bonham Carter. Considering the song used in Fight Club is one of their best, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. On the other hand, “Where Is My Mind” wasn’t their only good song. Maybe if today’s DJs would play more of their catalog the world would know that.
image11. Guns N’ Roses – Despite the recent release of Chinese Democracy, Guns N’ Roses has been under the radar for a while. All that’s left is Axl Rose and a bunch of people you don’t know. Slash and the rest moved on and currently play in Velvet Revolver with Scott Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots. But we still have an appetite for destruction, and right now the world could use some G.N.R. image12. MC Hammer – Who could ever forget the pants that this man popularized? They were so big and flashy that the aeronautics industry tested them for parachute durability. Somehow, Hammer blew all the money he made off of songs like “Can’t Touch This” and “Hammer Time.” Luckily, later in life he found Jesus and made some of it back. Now maybe Jesus can get him back on the radio.

image13. Ace of Base – I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes to the fact that we haven’t heard from Ace of Base in more than ten years. It’s too bad. They made catchy girl music that didn’t pretend to be anything it wasn’t. We’re not trying to say that it was riveting, life-changing music, but we hummed along when it came on the radio, and so did you. Admit it! image14. Counting Crows – For many bands, there comes a point in time when dreadlocks just won’t carry the music any longer. The Counting Crows reached that point in the 90s, which explains why you don’t hear from them. Seriously though, we could all use a little more air time for “Mr. Jones.” And considering that the band is still touring, there’s always hope. image15. Crash Test Dummies – No one here is claiming that the Crash Test Dummies are any good. But you have to respect a band whose first hit has a refrain that’s simply humming: “Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm.” Bold move.

image16. Live – Live hit it big in 1994 with their breakthrough album Throwing Copper. Although they fell out of the spotlight soon afterwards, no one bothered to inform the band. Apparently they’ve been touring and recording music all this time. It was only in November of 2009 that guitarist Chad Taylor announced he was leaving the band.
image17. Oasis – Only the Beatles can claim to be bigger than Jesus and get away with it. Oasis learned this the hard way. But despite their self-indulgent tendencies, they were still a decent band. Unfortunately, no one remembers them beyond select singles (ahem, “Wonderwall”), so Jesus wins.

image18. House of Pain – Seriously though, couldn’t you go for a little “Jump Around” right now? Come on, it’s an easy song. The lyrics are the same as the title, and the only other words you have to remember are “I came to get down.” There’s something to be said for simplicity.

image19. Gwar – Are the days of massive costumes and crazy face-paint over? If so, that explains why we haven’t heard much from Gwar. Kids today just don’t want a sci-fi/horror spectacle when they listen to music. They’d rather listen to Adam Lambert while they watch Avatar. Pussies.