Why is L7’s Bricks Are Heavy on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
They can’t hear a word that we’ve said, when we pretend that we’re dead.
Some stats & info about L7 – Bricks Are Heavy
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? SoCal Bands, Rock Music, Grunge, Alternative Rock, Alternative Metal
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars
- When was Bricks Are Heavy released? 1992
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #654 out of 1,000
L7’s Bricks Are Heavy on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does L7’s Bricks Are Heavy mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
Lots more about how Bricks Are Heavy fits into my life below, so let’s talk about the music itself up front and center, shall we?
As with L7’s other top-notch albums (which I’ll just go out and tell you are Smell the Magic and Hungry for Stink), Bricks Are Heavy is packed with great guitar hooks that sound sludgy and grimy but are produced in a way where it all sounds amazing, and exceptionally written songs that are raucous, catchy, and head bobbing.
“Pretend We’re Dead” is arguably L7’s best known song of all, perhaps in part because it’s more accessible by way of being a little bit less abrasive/aggressive and loud than most of their other material. It’s also terrifically good – akin in some ways to how Nirvana’s brilliant “About A Girl” plays off the other songs on Bleach. But emphasis on “some ways”: “Pretend We’re Dead” has a big crunchy guitar hook in its own right, to be fair.
I honestly didn’t start writing this entry with the intention of bringing up Bleach not only once but multiple times*, but while listening to “S***list,” I’m struck by the fact that the dirty so-low-its-rumbling rhythm section would not at all feel out of place on Nirvana’s debut album.
* As luck would have it, Butch Vig, producer of a Nirvana album you may have heard of called Nevermind, also produced Bricks Are Heavy.
“Monster” has both a slightly cleaner and slightly more metal vibe than the rest of the album, while Suzi Gardner affects a little bit of a Dave Mustane from Megadeth vibe.
Personal stuff that’s somehow related to L7’s Bricks Are Heavy
A year or two after I graduated from college and feeling directionless, I decided to go to graduate school to become a high school teacher. In my heart of hearts, I knew this wasn’t really something I was excited about. It was probably a way to punt on my future for a while, really.
That “a while” wound up being shorter than I could have imagined: one semester to be exact. My man Adam was staying with his mom and step-father in Atlanta at the time, and not for the first time we concocted a hare brained scheme that cemented my decision to drop out of grad school.
In short, it was time for a road trip, y’all.
Our five-week roadie commenced with me driving down from Long Island, New York to pick up Adam in Atlanta. Since it was the winter, we mostly stuck to the southern climes of the U.S.*, chiefly gunning back-and-forth across the continent – the groaning continent, as Jack Kerouac called it in On the Road – on Interstate 10, which stretches from Jacksonville, Florida all the way to Santa Monica, California in Los Angeles.
* I reminded Adam recently that we attempted to visit the northwest at one point, but ran into a brutal snowstorm in northern California that forced us to turn around. This was essentially still pre-Internet times and we were stupidly cavalier about deigning to do such things as actually check the weather forecast while driving around the entire country for a month-plus.
It was a great trip, all told, and we had many adventures. But most of it, as road trips go, were hours and hours of grinding driving. But we were young and had lots of energy and could chatter for endless hours on end, so it was great fun. One thing that manifested from our operating on similar levels of madness* was that we decided to tape record many of these conversations. I guarantee you that I would be hellaciously embarrassed to listen back to any of this today.
* This is another reference to On the Road. It’s related to one of my favorite quotes from the book:
…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!
Our preparation for the road trip was minimal at best. I’d be surprised if I even checked to make sure if I needed to get my car’s oil changed. Therefore, our musical accompaniment was whatever cassette tapes happened to be laying around my car at the time (pre-iPod! pre-smart phones! pre-streaming music and podcasts!).
While Adam and I enjoy a lot of the same music, ranging from Fishbone to Jimi Hendrix to Brother Meat, Adam was not a particular fan of grimy, grungy punk and metal.
So, yes, L7’s Bricks Are Heavy was one of the five or six cassette tapes in our rotation ALL ROADTRIP LONG. Every time I popped it in, Adam would good naturedly groan and make some inevitable joke about wanting to pretend to be dead.
Therefore, you could say that Bricks Are Heavy takes me back to a very specific time and place.