Although few books will become passeas quickly as this wrap-up of today's hottest alternative rock bands, few will attract YAs quite as well. In her introduction, Reisfeld calls alternative rock "honest" music that dives into "deeper emotional waters, expressing powerful feelings of despair, lust, and confusion." Fans of Nine Inch Nails will dispute inclusions such as Green Day or Juliana Hatfield, but Reisfeld's selections (she devotes one chapter to each of nine bands) give a good sense of different musical styles. The author also explores the roots and psychology of each band, analyzing the music in a lively but not overblown way. Other featured bands include Belly, Live, Hole, the cranberries, and Smashing Pumpkins. Band members are listed, as are albums, and a wealth of black-and-white photos is included.
From the stomach-wrenching perversity of Nine Inch Nails to the Celtic sound of the cranberries, the nine groups profiled here represent alternative rock's startling diversity, but this routine assortment of hype and soundbites does neither the music nor the musicians justiceand any survey that leaves out the likes of REM and Nirvana is bound to be seriously deficient. Acknowledging no specific sources and using language that ranges from inept ("They flat rejected all the big money offers") to laughable (the group Belly "was bulging with promise"), Reisfeld (Melrose Place, 1992, not reviewed, etc.) tells essentially the same story over and over: unhappy childhoods, serendipitous meetings with other teenage outsiders, a short period of obscurity, an album or three, huge success. The frontmen and frontwomen ("There are just as many women rocking just as hard as the guys"oh, really?) contribute the usual platitudes about fans, money ("does absolutely nothing for you," says Eddie Vedder), and being true to themselves, and the taboo subjectsdrugs, sex, businessare barely mentioned. At publication it will already be dated; stick with the sketches in Spin, Heavy Metal, and other periodicals.