Richness of Content: "Our Band Could Be Your Life" by Michael Azerrad is a highly comprehensive book that primarily concerns the transformation of the 1980's Hardcore movement into the 90's alternative rock phenomena. The first thing that comes to mind with a scan of the cover is the fact that for the most part Michael chose to ignore the Seattle Grunge movement (Mudhoney not withstanding), however this is not necessarily a bad thing as Grunge has far too many books written about it already. In many ways the obscurity of the bands featured is the books main strength, and for many this book is the is the best source of information on the subject bands available besides Wikipedia.
The research that has gone into the creation of this book is impressive to say the least and the amount of detail that it goes into can only be described as "loving". Each band is given roughly an equal measure of detail and are organised sorely in a linear narrative; the order of the bands is decided in the order in which they were formed. // 8
Style: The writing style is very much in the style of a linear narrative with events commented on as they happen. This is very autobiographical and is a strength of the book however it could be also argued that this is a weakness as well. With all the information that the reader is presented it is far too easy to forget important factual information about the bands presented in the face of little details on how certain band members felt about each other. It is a writing style that will bifurcate readers; on the one hand it is a very thorough recollection of the bands presented and on the other hand, the hand I am leaning slightly towards it skews over the factual information within; when did bands form? When did they break up? When X left who replaced them? All of this is important information that can easily be lost in the reading.
Our band could be your life is fundamentally a great book; it's very thorough and very well written; the research that has gone into this book is incredible however I do feel that the literary writing style lets this book down somewhat. If at the end of each bands chapter the author had included a little summery of information I would have been happier but in the face of the neatly constructed narrative I feel that this is a minor complain and one that not all readers will share.
Another minor complain I have against this book is the fact that it only covers the bands that started in hardcore punk and went to alternative rock whilst ignoring the bands that started in Hardcore Punk but went into a harder edge route such as Metalcore or Mathcore. I would have really liked a look at the histories of these bands or maybe even a passing note of the scenes that forged these bands. // 7
Overall Impression: All in all, "Our Band Could Be Your Life" is a well written book, it has excellent research behind it backing it up and the subject matter is clearly one that is very close to the writers heart however the fact that it only really looks at the "poppier" side of Hardcore somewhat irks me as does the story like writing style of the chapters. In conclusion I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in these bands however for the reader who is looking for a larger view of the state of American underground rock music during the 1980's I would have to recommend that they turn elsewhere.
In conclusion "Our Band Could Be Your Life" is a well written book however its thin subject matter that only covers a slice of the American Underground and it's literary writing style lets it down slightly. // 8