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The 90s...the best albums of 1994...

Posted by Brad Schelden, February 8, 2013 05:44pm | Post a Comment
The year is 1994. Here we are in the middle of the 90s. This list of my favorite 10 albums of 1994 was not hard to come up with. But I honestly can't think of too many other albums that I loved this year other than these 10. I listened to a lot less music back in 1994. What I mean to say is that I listened to a lot less different bands. I listened to music a lot and it was a big part of my life. But in these mid 90s years I mostly listened to the same artists and albums over and over again. I was very into Britpop throughout the mid 90s. But there are really only two albums on this 1994 list that were really classified as Britpop. But there are some big albums missing from my list this year. Definitely Maybe by Oasis was of course also released in 1994. But I am saving them for my 1995 list. Blur released Parklife and Suede released Dog Man Star in 1994. And these albums was also a big part of my life and two of my favorites of the year. But I have already picked my favorite Blur and Suede albums for 1993. Split by Lush was another one of my favorites of 1994. But I already have them in my 1992 list. Maybe I should take another look at my self made rule of only putting one album by each band in my entire 90s list. But I still think it is a good idea. I don't need to keep talking about each band over and over again. And I always have my favorite one album for each band. There is just also usually a second album by each band that I love almost as much. Both 1993 and 1994 were two of my favorite years of the 90s. They were very similar and included many of the albums that I can't imagine my life without. Six of the albums on my list for 1994 were from bands from England. So no surprise there.
So here it is. My top ten albums of 1994...

Pulp-His 'n' Hers (Island)
1994 will always be remembered as the year that I discovered Pulp. I am still not exactly sure how or when it happened. But I know it happened at some point at the end of 1993 or the beginning of 1994. It is hard to imagine my life as existing before I discovered this band. What is funny is that this band had existed for over a decade already! They had already released It in 1983, Freaks in 1987 and Separations in 1992. But I don't think any of my friends had ever even heard of this band until 1993. The band released two singles in 1993. "Razzmatazz" and "Lipgloss." Both ended up on the U.S. version of His 'n' Hers. His 'n' Hers also included "Babies," "Do You Remember The First Time," "Joyriders" & "Acrylic Afternoons." This album was released in April of 1994. I probably listened it more than anything on this list. Pulp really did seem to take over in 1994 and 1995. You either loved them of you just didn't know who they were. Jarvis Cocker was the amazing and hilarious leader and singer of Pulp. I seriously did not know that this band existed before 1993. It is an amazing story that they even lasted that long and finally made the big time in 1994 and 1995. I didn't actually go back and discover the older Pulp albums until years later. Different Class was released the following year. It was probably one of the most anticipated albums of 1995 for me. And it also became one of my all time favorite albums.

Stereolab-
Mars Audiac Quintet
(Elektra)

I still remember the first time I heard Stereolab. It was the year before this in 1993. Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements was released in 1993. One of my friends had it on cassette and I loved the name of the band. I loved the name of the album and the artwork. I didn't know anything about them. But I sort of already somehow knew that they would become one of my favorite bands. I never gave my friend's cassette back and I know I purchased Mars Audiac Quintet on CD as soon as it came out in 1994. I really did love everything about this band. I was hooked on this band for life after this album came out. They were seriously the coolest band that I liked and sounded like nothing that I had heard before. This was years before I had ever heard of bands like Neu! or Faust. They fit into my love of shoegaze and electronics. They were sort of a mix of lounge music and shoegaze. Emperor Tomato Ketchup came out two years later in 1996 and was probably their most popular album. Dots & Loops was released in 1997 and was probably the last album of theirs that I was obsessed with. But I will remain a fan of this band for life.

echobellyEchobelly-
Everyone's Got One
(Rhythm King)

Everyone's Got One was Echobelly's first album. I was hooked as soon as I first head "Insomniac." I think I might have read about this band a while before this album actually came out. But it really is one of the best albums from the years of Britpop. The album also featured "Father Ruler King Computer," "Bellyache," "Call Me Names" & "I Can't Imagine The World Without Me." Every album on this list takes me right back to 1994. But this album in particular. I am seriously transported right back to how I felt at the time. And I honestly remember being so happy when I listened to this album. This album just put me in a good mood. Echobelly went on to put out another great album On in 1995. They put out three more albums after that. But nothing was ever as great as this debut album. This is one of those albums that went out of print and is now surprisingly hard to find.

Heavenly-The Decline & Fall of Heavenly (Sarah)
Heavenly was probably the first band that I listened to on Sarah Records. A couple of years later I would be exposed to the greatness of Sarah Records and Blueboy, The Field Mice, Brighter & Even As We Speak. There is really nothing like this label. I love almost everything that they put out. But it all started with Heavenly. This was also the beginning of my love of twee music. Twee music and the jangly pop music associated with it had been around since the 80s. But I had not really been exposed to it until the mid 90s. Heavenly was basically a reformed Talulah Gosh. They had been around in the 80s. I would of course go back and become a fan of all things Heavenly after getting obsessed with this album. The album cover is ridiculously cute just like the music. Heavenly had already released Heavenly Vs Satan in 1991 & Le Jardin de Heavenly in 1992. And they put out one more album after this one. Those first three albums are all classics of the genre. Perfect and brilliant pop albums. Simpatico! by Velocity Girl almost took this spot in my top ten for this year. But Heavenly beat them out by a bit. But I did love both albums.

portisheadPortishead-Dummy (Go! Beat)
I can't think about 1994 without Portishead. I can't really even think about the 90s without thinking about this album. Dummy was everywhere in my life from 1994 to probably the end of the 90s. I am sure I listened to this album more than most anything else in my collection. This band seemed to come out of nowhere and just took over my life. I think most everyone I knew owned this album. This album was a blend of downtempo electronica and hip hop. Massive Attack had basically started the genre know as Trip Hop. But Portishead really made it crazy popular this year. Tricky released Maxinquaye the following year. This album is amazing from the beginning to the end. And it really still holds up after all these years. The album featured "Sour Times," "Numb," "Roads," "Glory Box" & "Mysterons." I really can't express enough my love for this album even all these years later. I did probably listen to it too much at the time. But after a bit of a break I still find myself going back to it a couple of times a year.

nine inch nailsNine Inch Nails-The Downward Spiral (Nothing)
This is another album that I simply could not ignore. This album was too important and too big to leave off this list. I was already a big fan of Nine Inch Nails way before this album came out. Pretty Hate Machine came out in 1989. However I probably didn't get really obsessed with that album until 1990 or 1991. The Broken EP came out in 1992. I was ready and waiting for this monumental album The Downward Spiral to finally be released in 1994. This album was huge. Like Dummy and Live Through This by Hole. They all dominated 1994 and 1995. I still watched a lot of MTV in 1994. And this album was all over MTV. The album featured "Mr. Self Destruct," "Piggy," "Closer," "March of the Pigs" & "Hurt." I don't think I listened to much else other then these 10 albums in 1994. Because I listened to them so much I really did not have time for much more. I do associate certain songs on this album with certain people in my life at the time. But I also did listen to this album a lot by myself. It is just one of those huge albums that will always be with me.

Sunny Day Real Estate-Diary
(Sub Pop)

Diary was the first album released by Sunny Day Real Estate. They were on Sub Pop like Nirvana and they were from Washington like Nirvana. They also infused elements of punk and metal. They were probably the first Emo band that I got into. I think I actually first heard this band on MTV on 120 Minutes. I was again hooked on another new band in 1994. Sunny Day Real Estate went on to release LP2 in 1995 and then broke up. They reformed in the late 90s and put out How It Feels To Be Something On in 1998. That album was also one of my favorites of 1998. This band always remained sort of a mystery to me. I knew very little about them. But I really did love this album and do still consider myself a big fan of this band. I go back to this album often. The album is an emotional journey for me. It makes me feel all emo again every time that I listen to it.

tortoiseTortoise-Tortoise (Thrill Jockey)
1994 will also be remembered by me as the year that I discovered Tortoise and the year that I discovered Thrill Jockey. I will be honest and admit that I only listened to this album because this dude I had a crush on told me that I had to listen to it. So I of course went and bought it so that we would have something to talk about. But I did end of becoming a big fan. This album sounded like nothing that I had heard before. I had never listened to anything remotely jazzy my whole life. I was into checking out new things this year. And Tortoise was for sure a new thing for me. They were a sort of post rock mash up of electronica and jazz and rock. This album is what I think of when I think of Chicago. This was their first album. I also really liked their next couple of records. Millions Now Living Will Never Die in 1996, TNT in 1998 & Standards in 2001. I became hooked on the label Thrill Jockey after this album. And got into albums by The Sea & Cake, Trans Am, Eleventh Dream Day, Mouse On Mars & Oval. I had not listened to this album in over 10 years probably. But it has been fun to rediscover this band and remember why I got into them in the first place.

bark psychosisBark Psychosis-Hex (Caroline)
This was one of those records that I bought just based on the cover. I knew nothing about Bark Psychosis. But I liked the name of the band and the cover. It also fit right in next to my Tortoise album. They were sort of a darker version of Tortoise. They were from London but still had that post rock sound. They have some instrumental songs like Tortoise. But they have vocals on this album as well. The album is sort of a combination of Cocteau Twins or This Mortal Coil with the jazzy post rock sound of a Tortoise album. This is sort of goth jazz. The album is still intense and dark. And I do remember often listening to this album when I was a bit depressed. But it always seemed to help me out of it. I am not sure this album would have the same effect on me if I was listening to it for the first time in 2013. I listened to this album many times throughout the mid to late 90s. I took a long break from this album like the Tortoise album. But it just got reissued on LP a couple of months ago so I was able to revisit it and fall in love with it all over again.

hole live through thisHole-Live Through This (DGC)

I still remember going to buy this album the week that it came out. It came out on April 12th 1994. Just a couple of days after Kurt Cobain died. I turned 20 a couple of weeks after that. It was an important year in my life for many reasons. Hole had already released Pretty On The Inside in 1991. But this was my first Hole album. It was just a crazy and sad set of circumstances surrounding this album. But the album still became a huge record that year. And everyone either hated or loved Courtney Love and Hole. I always try and imagine what the rest of the 90s would have been like with Kurt Cobain still around. But I was happy to have this album to console myself. The album featured "Violet," "Miss World," "Jennifer's Body," "Asking For It" & "Doll Parts." There is no denying how great this album really is. And it still holds up against any album released since then. I really got obsessed with this album and Courtney Love throughout the rest of the 90s. It is the kind of record that gets me a bit down and emotional. It is sort of like Courtney Love's version of emo. I can seriously listen to "Doll Parts" over and over again. This is another great record from 1994 that I will never forget. A record that will always be attached to my life in 1994.

Check for these albums here on Amoeba.com

Check out the video for "Glory Box" by Portishead from the album Dummy...



Check out the video for "Seven" by Sunny Day Real Estate from the album Diary...


The 90s...the best albums of 1993...

Posted by Brad Schelden, November 18, 2012 12:38pm | Post a Comment
1993 and 1994 are probably two of my favorite years of the 90s. These were the best years of Britpop. Some amazing years for British music. Suede, Blur, Pulp, & The Verve all had amazing albums out these years. I had always been into British music since I remember ever being into music. New Wave & Goth in the 80s. And now Shoegaze & Britpop in the early and mid 90s. I gave myself a couple of rules when making these lists for the top ten of each year. I made sure to only pick one album for each artist. I didn't want the list to be a Blur and Suede album every year. So I picked my favorite album from each of those artists. And for the most part my favorite album was the album that introduced me to the band. Not necessarily the bands first album. But my first album by that band. The album that I think of when I think of that band. There are three American bands on my list this year. Still outnumbered by the British bands of course. I had for the most part stopped listening to the radio in 1993. Most of the bands I found out about were from 120 Minutes or Alternative Nation. I was also heavily influenced by my friends and roommates in 1993. This was the first year that I heard Suede, Slowdive & The Verve. I think I probably saw a Suede video when I heard them for the first time. I was hooked within the first couple seconds of the video. This was the band for me. I couldn't get enough of them throughout the rest of the 90s. I was already familiar with Blur but 1993 was really the first year that I really got obsessed with them.  Saint Etienne and Catherine Wheel were probably the albums that I listened to most this year. Where You Been by Dinosaur Jr.Star by Belly just barely didn't make my top ten this year. They were also both listened to a lot by me in 93 and 94. Here it is...my top 10 albums of 1993...

The Verve-A Storm In Heaven (Vernon Yard)
The Verve were like Suede in that they both released debut albums in 1993. They also went on to put out two more successful and critically acclaimed albums in the 90s. I would never call The Verve Britpop. But they often got lumped together with the other Britpop bands of the era. The Verve were more psychedelic and dreamy. They had more in common with the Shoegaze and Dream Pop bands of the early 90s. The Verve also were not as popular as Suede in 1993. It took until their third album for everyone to really notice them. A Northern Soul was released in 1995. Urban Hymns was released in 1997. Urban Hymns got ridiculously big and I feel like that album was everywhere. But I think all the old fans still loved it too. It was a fantastic album and deserved all the praise. I remember being happy that they had finally made it. But they would unfortunately break up in 1999 and then end up reforming in 2008 for their forth album called Forth. Everything started for me with A Storm In Heaven. This album was released in June of 1993. But it sounds just as good now as it did then. This album quickly became one of my favorites. Another band from 1993 that I would become obsessed with throughout the rest of the 90s. A Storm In Heaven featured the songs "Slide Away," "Blue," "Butterfly" & "Starsail." This album would also be near the top of my list of my favorite albums of the decade. I could listen to this album all day long.

modern life is rubbishBlur-Modern Life Is Rubbish (Food)
Blur had already released Leisure in 1991. This album featured "She's So High" & "There's No Other Way." I was already a fan of those songs but had not really taken the jump into full on Blur until Modern Life Is Rubbish was released in 1993. Blur is probably the most popular of the British bands on this list. They managed to put out six albums in the 90s and one last album in 2003. Modern Life is Rubbish quickly sold me on Blur. I also loved Parklife in 1994 and The Great Escape in 1995. Modern Life is Rubbish featured "For Tomorrow," "Chemical World," "Sunday Sunday," "Star Shaped" & "Miss America." This album was really their first britpop album. This was after all the inaugural year of britpop. Their first album fit more into the end of the madchester scene. The battle of Oasis Vs. Blur was just around the corner from this album. The debut Oasis album would come out the following year in 1994. The media quickly whipped up a sort of rivalry between Blur & Oasis. I was a fan of Blur first so I always sided with Blur. I did enjoy those first two Oasis albums. But I was always a bigger Blur fan. Blur was made up of Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James & Dave Rowntree. Both Blur & Suede were probably the first bands of the 90s who I knew everything about. I know each band member independent from the other. Most of us had our favorite. Damon & Graham were the Dave Gahan & Martin Gore of the band. Or the Mick Jagger & Keith Richards. Graham was my favorite. I loved these guys. I loved how very British they were. And this is the album that started it all. I really do feel like Blur & Suede sort of took over my life in late 1993.

Slowdive-Souvlaki (Creation)
I like to think of my life as pre and post Slowdive. There are just some of those albums that change your life forever. This is one of those albums for me. My Bloody Valentine did it a couple of years before. But this is the band that did it for me in 1993. As much as I loved Blur, Suede & The Verve. I probably listened to Souvlaki more than all those albums combined. This album was released in the UK on Creation in June of 1993. It was not released in the US on SBK until early 1994. The artwork was changed on this album cover for the US release. They made the image a really small little image on a mostly black cover. Not really sure why they changed it. But they did add some bonus tracks for the domestic release. Souvlaki included "Alison," "Sing," "Machine Gun," "When The Sun Hits" & "Dagger." This album is a shoegaze classic. If you have heard this album then it is mostly likely one of your favorites. The album was the perfect end of the night album. I listened to this album almost every night before I went to sleep for probably about a year or so. Slowdive had released Just For A Day in 1991. SBK released it in 1992 in the US. But I had never heard of this band until a friend introduced them to me in 1993. So I always think of Just For A Day as their second album since it was the second for me. Just For A Day is a perfect companion album to Souvlaki. Just as good and magical. They went on to release Pygmalion two years later in 1995. It just doesn't get much better than Slowdive. There is really nobody like them. Many bands who try recapture that amazing sound of those first two Slowdive albums. But it simply could not be done.

SuedeSuede-Suede (Nude)
This might just be my favorite album of the 90s. Britpop just doesn't get any better than this. This band and this album seemed to come out of nowhere. This album put them all over the British press. It ended up on many end of the year lists. I think I probably didn't first get into this album until late in 1993. Even though it was released in March. "Metal Mickey" was the first song I heard by them. And the first time I head it was when I saw the video. So it just really hit me over the head. I really couldn't believe how awesome they were. I loved everything about them. And I don't even really think I fully understood what I was watching. I didn't know how important this band would become to me and my friends in the following years. But I knew that I loved it. This album is just one of those perfect albums that defines the era. It is often thought as the album that started Britpop. This album was the fastest selling debut album in British history. The album included "Metal Mickey," "So Young," "Animal Nitrate," "The Drowners," "Sleeping Pills" & "Pantomime Horse." I can honestly say that I love every song on this album. It was such a fun and completely new sound for me at the time. It was somewhere between an album by David Bowie and The Smiths. But it was really like nothing I had heard before. They were like my new Duran Duran. They would go on to release Dog Man Star in 1994 & Coming Up in 1996. Those first three albums are an essential part of my music collection. They released two more albums after that. I saw this band live a couple times over the years. They were one of my favorite bands to see live. They really conveyed the magic of those albums live. This is also one of my favorite album covers of the decade. I always thought it was two dudes on the cover. But I found out years later that it was a drawing of two women! It was an androgynous cover that you could really imagine to be whatever you wanted it to be.

saint etienne so toughSaint Etienne-
So Tough
(Warner)

Saint Etienne! I love these guys. I really feel like if you know about Saint Etienne then you probably love them. By 1993 I was already a fan of their first album Fox Base Alpha and the song "Only Love Can Break Your Heart." But I think that So Tough was actually the first entire album that I owned by them. And it is most certainly my favorite. One of my friends first played me this album and it quickly became both of our favorites. I loved all the sampling. I loved that it was dancey but also super cool and mellow in parts. It was the perfect combination of UK indie and dance. I had really heard nothing like it before. The samples really meant nothing to me. They were most likely from British movies and TV shows that I had never seen before. But this album was just such a complete wonderful collection. You really have to listen to it from beginning to end. The best song was the last song after all. Saint Etienne is Bob Stanley & Pete Wigss. The first album had a couple different female vocalist. But Sarah Cracknell had become the permanent third member by the time this second album came out. So Tough featured the songs "Mario's Cafe," "Calico," "Hobart Paving," "Avenue" & "Join Our Club." Saint Etienne went on to release six more albums after So Tough. They are still a band and actually just put out an album this year and toured with it. I just saw them live a couple of weeks ago! This band will forever remain one of my favorites. Putting on this album brings me right back to 1993. And for some reason it only makes me remember the good memories. I love these guys. There is really nobody like them. This album was just reissued recently as a deluxe 2CD edition along with the rest of their catalog.

So Tonight That I Might SeeMazzy Star-So Tonight That I Might See (Capitol)
Mazzy Star had already released She Hangs Brightly in 1990. But I didn't first notice them until So Tonight That I Might See was released in 1993. You really could not avoid the song "Fade Into You" that year. I was hooked by that song. I was not alone. It was hard not to like them. Mazzy Star is Hope Sandoval and David Roback. David had played in the Rain Parade in the 80s. He was also a member of Opal. Opal recruited Hope Sandoval after the vocalist left and soon turned into Mazzy Star. These guys were are mix of psychedelic rock and dream pop. Mazzy Star are one of the few bands from these lists not from England. They were actually formed in Southern California just like Medicine. Hope has one of those voices like no other. The band put out Among My Swan in 1996 and then took a long break. Hope Sandoval has put out a couple of solo albums over the years. But Mazzy Star is back and will soon be releasing an album of new material any day now. This album is dark and dreamy. It can easily lull you to sleep. The album features the songs "Fade Into You" & "Into Dust." It is one of those albums that just might break your heart in two. But it is worth it. A beautiful masterpiece of the 90s.

catherine wheelCatherine Wheel-Chrome (Fontana)
Catherine Wheel released Ferment in 1992. This album featured "Black Metallic." One of the best songs of the 90s. But it was their second album that I really got obsessed with. I listened to Chrome probably hundreds of times. Chrome featured "Crank," "Fripp," "Pain," "Show Me Mary" & "The Nude." I can listen to "Fripp" over and over again. Catherine Wheel were yet another band from England for me to become obsessed with. They shared much in common with many of the shoegaze bands of the era. But they were a bit harder and shared much in common with some of the grunge bands of the era. They were like Shoegaze Grunge. Somewhere between The Smashing Pumpkins, Tool, Soundgarden, Lush, Slowdive & Ride. I listened to an album every night before I went to sleep throughout much of the 90s. This album was one of those albums in rotation. The album still holds up after all these years. It was the bands best album without a doubt. They went on to release three more albums after this. But they could never capture what they had done with Chrome. Another one of my favorite album covers of the decade. Very similar to the cover for Nevermind.

The The-Dusk (Sony)
The The has already released three albums in the 80s. But I didn't know anything about them until 1993. Dusk was released in 1993. The same year as Songs Of Faith & Devotion by Depeche Mode. The The opened up for Depeche Mode on their tour for this album. I think I first bought that Depeche Mode album on cassette. But when I later bought it on CD it included a cassette copy of Dusk by The The. I was basically forced to listen to this album. Depeche Mode were one of my favorite bands after all. It probably would have found its way into my collection regardless. I still remember that first time that I listened to it. I really didn't know what to expect. The The were also from England. So it made sense that I would like them. Matt Johnson really took me over with that voice. I became a huge fan of this album and have gone back to it many times over the years. I eventually went back and explored the previous albums of The The. But Dusk will always remain my favorite. It is a weird mix of genres but it somehow works. It is a mix of new wave and alternative. Maybe a bit of country music and showtunes thrown in there. It is very theatrical. Matt Johnson is really more of a storyteller than a singer. The The are sort of a combination of a bank like R.E.M. with Nick Cave. The album features the songs "Slow Emotion Replay," "Dogs Of Lust," "Helpline Operator" & "Love Is Stronger Than Death."

Medicine-The Buried Life (American)
Medicine are the second American band on my list this year. And they were also on the label American! Medicine were from Los Angeles. They just might be the only band from Los Angeles that I actually liked in the early 90s. This was yet another band whose second album I liked better than the first. But it was again mostly because that was the album that I was first introduced to. Medicine had released Shot Forth Self Living in 1992. The Buried Life was released in 1993. Medicine were sort of viewed as the Los Angeles version of My Bloody Valentine. They were our version of shoegaze. The album featured "Babydoll," "Slut," "Never Click" & "Fried Awake." I actually forgot how much I like this album until I listened to it again last year. It just got reissued by Captured Tracks along with Shot Forth Self Living. This album is loud and full of messy and noisy guitar. But is somehow beautiful beneath all that. Which is why they are more similar to My Bloody Valentine than anybody else. Medicine went on to put out two more albums after this. But they are perhaps most famous for appearing as themselves in the movie The Crow.

Smashing Pumpkins-Siamese Dream (Virgin)
The Smashing Pumpkins had released Gish in 1991. But it was Siamese Dream that really broke this band. This album was unavoidable in 1993 & 1994. It was released in July of 1993. This was most certainly the best selling album on my list of 1993. It was sort of my Nevermind of this year. I couldn't leave it off this list. Smashing Pumpkins went on to release many albums over the years. But I sort of lost interest after Melon Collie & The Infinite Sadness was released in 1995. But from 1991 to 1996 I was a big fan of this band. Siamese Dream featured "Cherub Rock," "Today," "Rocket," "Disarm," "Soma,"  "Mayonaise" "Spaceboy" & "Luna." It really is crazy to think how many great songs were on this album. Today was probably my favorite of the big singles. But I can really listen to "Mayonaise" and "Luna" over and over again. Billy Corgan was obviously the man behind Smashing Pumpkins and this album. But he could not have put this album together without James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlain & D'arcy Wretzky. Smashing Pumpkins was one of those bands that you either loved or hated. This album somehow combined all the things I liked from shoegaze, dreampop and grunge. It was the perfect album for 1993. This was the bands best album by far. They would never create anything that would come close to Siamese Dream.


Check for these albums here on Amoeba.com

up next...1994

The 90s...the best albums of 1992...

Posted by Brad Schelden, October 26, 2012 06:00pm | Post a Comment
1992 was a big deal for many reasons. This was my last year of High School. The year I turned 18. My last year living at home. It was also my first year at college. My first year living away from home. And another year that I got even more obsessed with music. And it all happened 20 years ago! Hard to believe. By 1992 I had really worn out my copy of Disintegration by The Cure. So I was ready for the new Cure album. Wish was released in March of 1992. It would really become the album that I most associate with 1992. I can remember listening to it for the first time. It became the album that I would listen to most throughout the summer and well into 1993. I was still primarily listening to cassettes at this point. I don't think I got a CD player until 1993. I held out for a while for some reason. The Cure was one of the first bands whose catalog I upgraded to CD as soon as I got a CD player. 1992 was also the year that I discovered Lush, Curve & Pale Saints! The year I discovered Bjork & The Sugarcubes. The first time I heard PJ Harvey and Red House Painters. These bands would all become a huge part of my musical life throughout the 90s. I became a lifelong fan of both PJ Harvey and Red House Painters. And I seriously can't imagine my life without these guys. I was still listening to a lot of radio in 1992. KROQ was starting to become a bit annoying this year though. It seemed that every other song was Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers or U2. I didn't like any of those bands and had to constantly change the station whenever they came on. But KROQ still played a lot of Morrissey & The Cure. It is where I first heard Lush, The Sugarcubes, The Lemonheads, James, Cause & Effect, Catherine Wheel, Soup Dragons, St. Etienne, Curve & Utah Saints. So I did still manage to listen to it quite a bit. I also watched 120 Minutes every Sunday. Dave Kendall was the host until 1992 when Lewis Largent took over. 1992 was also the first year of Alternative Nation on MTV. I became a big fan of this show and its host Kennedy! She probably annoyed most people. But I loved her. And I loved being introduced to new bands by watching their videos. 120 Minutes was always cooler though. There was too much Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers on Alternative Nation just like on KROQ. Just to give you an idea of what was being played on KROQ in LA here is their top 20 songs of 1992...

1. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Under the Bridge
2. Pearl Jam - Jeremy
3. The Cure - A Letter to Elise
4. Nirvana - Come As You Are
5. U2 - One
6. Toad the Wet Sprocket - All I Want
7. Shakespear's Sister - Stay
8. Pearl Jam - Even Flow
9. Morrissey - Tomorrow
10. R.E.M. - Drive
11. James - Born of Frustration
12. Sugarcubes - Hit
13. The Cure - Friday I'm in Love
14. Temple of the Dog - Hunger Strike
15. L7 - Pretend that We're Dead
16. Peter Gabriel - Digging in the Dirt
17. The Charlatans - Weirdo
18. Cause & Effect - You Think You Know Her
19. Annie Lennox - Why
20. Alice in Chains - Would

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The 90s...the best albums of 1991...

Posted by Brad Schelden, October 15, 2012 03:33pm | Post a Comment

Things had not changed much from 1990 to 1991. I was still obsessed with all things British. Still listening to a lot of Depeche Mode and The Smiths. Still very much living in the '80s. I had only just been introduced to Morrissey the year before. I listened to Viva Hate and Bona Drag all the time. I was a fan of Morrissey first since The Smiths had broken up before I even knew who they were. So it was fun to go back and discover The Smiths' albums for the first time. I started with Louder Than Bombs which was a fantastic way to introduce myself to the band. I then went back and discovered their studio albums one by one. Queen Is Dead, Meat Is Murder, Strangeways Here We Come and then The Smiths. I was hooked on Morrissey and The Smiths and there was no going back. I became a vegetarian in 1991. I started reading magazines more obsessively and trying to find out as much as I could about my favorite bands.

Both Morrissey and Erasure had new albums in 1991. These albums would both be a big part of my life that year. I can't really think about 1991 without thinking about Kill Uncle and Chorus. Nirvana released Nevermind in 1991. This album would change everything. Not everything exactly, but it did change a lot! I still remember my dad having the conversation with me about grunge. He asked me if I was "grunge." I probably answered "sort of." It was like me coming out of the closet. I also listened to so much Erasure in high school that I should have never really had to come out to my mom! I was still very much obsessed with my British bands. I was still into the goth, shoegaze, grebo and indie bands of the UK. But I also became a huge fan of Nirvana. I really had no choice. I didn't really notice Nirvana until Nevermind came out. But I listened to this album probably more than anything in 1991. Although I was probably still a bigger fan of my UK favorites then all the bands coming out of Seattle. Brit pop was just around the corner and would completely take over my life in the years that followed. But it was nice to actually be into a band from the US for a bit. Nirvana are actually one of three bands on my top ten of 1991 from the US. But the other two I actually always thought were British! They may have come from the US but they fit more into the British sound of the era. Nirvana sort of don't really fit in. But this album was too big to ignore and not put on this list. I couldn't deny its place on this list. I was quite obsessed with it. A lot of us were.

So here it is. My top ten albums of 1991...

my bloody valentine lovelessMy Bloody Valentine - Loveless (Sire)
Loveless was released in 1991. My Bloody Valentine had released Isn't Anything in 1988 and many singles and EPs in between. But I had never heard anything about them until Loveless. I don't really remember a point in my life not liking My Bloody Valentine. But obviously there was life before this band. I think I just fell in love with My Bloody Valentine after a couple of seconds into Loveless. I actually probably just bought this album because of the artwork. "Only Shallow" was the first track on the album and all I needed to know that I had found my new favorite band. They sounded like nothing I had ever heard before. And they got me ready for a whole new type of music. I would soon be obsessed with Lush, Chapterhouse, Slowdive, Curve, Spiritualized and anybody who sounded like My Bloody Valentine. The music was loud and full of feedback and distortion and all sorts of stuff that I really not heard before. Except for maybe Sonic Youth. They were sort of the Sonic Youth of Ireland. The music was somehow beautiful beneath all that noise. I could not get enough Loveless in my life. I have listened to this album so much over the years.  These albums have never not been a part of my life since I first heard them. I picked up Isn't Anything a couple of years after Loveless and collected all the EPs that I could find. Loveless features "Only Shallow," "When You Sleep," "Sometimes" and "Soon." But this album is really just fantastic from start to finish. You can't not listen to the whole thing once you start it. Some of my favorite songs are on the EPs. I love "Cigarette In Your Bed," "Drive It All Over Me," "Honey Power" and "You Made Me Realise." But Loveless will always be one of my favorite albums. It was my introduction to the band. The album cover remains one of my favorites. Where would we be without Loveless and My Bloody Valentine? The band only released two studio albums, but when you create something so amazing sometimes it is better just to stop there. These albums could never be replicated. We finally got some long overdue remastered reissues of the My Bloody Valentine catalog this year.

chapterhouseChapterhouse - Whirlpool (Dedicated)
Whirlpool was the first album released by Chapterhouse. It is another classic shoegaze album that really still holds up. It sounds just as good as it did back then. And it is similar to Loveless in that it is fantastic from the first to last song. I don't even know what to say about this band. They are just one of those bands that I love. I feel like they existed for such a short time but had such a big impact on me. For some reason this album never got as popular as albums by Ride, Lush, Slowdive or My Bloody Valentine. It really should have. The band went on to put out one more studio album a couple of years later, but Whirpool is the album that I always go back to. "Pearl" is the second track on the album and simply one of the best songs of the 1991. I can listen to this song over and over again. It never gets old. The album also features "Breather," "Falling Down" and "Something More." I never had the chance to see these guys live back in the '90s, but I did get to see them last year when they came back to LA for a quick little tour. It was so fun to see a band that I had never seen before performing songs from an album that I was obsessed with from 20 years ago. It seriously felt like it was 1991. I also got to see My Bloody Valentine a couple of years ago. And I also thought I would never see them perform live. This album did get reissued a couple of years ago and I think probably got some new fans along the way. It is one of greatest of the era of early '90s shoegaze.

The Ocean Blue - Cerulean (Sire)
I always had an album like this every year that I was obsessed with. It was The Lightning Seeds in 1990. Years later it would be Belle & Sebastian or Jens Lekman. I needed something from the lighter side of indie music to balance me out. And I can always use some jangly twee in my life. The Ocean Blue are another band that I always thought were British, just like Anything Box and Book of Love. I was really surprised to find out these guys are from Hershey, Pennsylvania! I didn't do any research on these guys back in the '90s. I sure don't remember them ever being covered by any magazine I was reading. I just assumed they were British! I guess I never looked at the liner notes on the album! This band were clearly influenced by the British bands of the '80s like Echo & The Bunnymen and The Smiths.

I think I got into this band by first listening to them at my friends house. I remember borrowing Cerulean and their self titled album. They released that self titled album in 1989. Cerulean was their second album. I was obsessed with Cerulean, like any of the other albums on this list. The album featured "Cerulean," "Ballerina Out Of Control" and "Mercury." They went on to put out 5 studio albums total. I was really only a fan of those first three. But this one is still my favorite. It is just a perfect pop record. They were popular on college radio and developed a small cult following, but never really got that big. I was actually excited when I first heard that band The Drums a couple of years ago. They also sounded British and totally reminded me of The Ocean Blue!

Book Of Love - Candy Carol (Sire)
Book of Love were another band that I got into in the '90s that sounded like they were in the '80s. They had been in the '80s so it made sense that they never really lost that late '80s sound. But it worked for them. They were also another band that I always thought was from the UK. But like The Ocean Blue they were from Pennsylvania! I had no idea. I first probably heard this band in the movie Planes, Trains & Automobiles in 1987. I was obsessed with this movie. I still am. And like most John Hughes movies it had a great soundtrack. The Soundtrack featured "Modigliani (Lost In Your Eyes)" from their self titled debut album from 1986. That album also featured "Boy." Book Of Love released Lullaby in 1988 and then Candy Carol in 1991. Candy Carol was the first album that I owned from Book Of Love. But I had been a big fan of their songs from the first two albums. They were a new wave band from the '80s, but one of the few popular new wave bands that didn't come from the UK. They transitioned into synthpop in the late '80s and early '90s -  which is pretty much the same. Book of Love had a sort of dark feel to them even though their songs were very much pop songs. I was excited when this band was again featured in another movie in 1991, The Silence Of The Lambs! "Sunny Day" from the Candy Carol album was actually featured in the movie. Lauren Roselli is also featured in the movie while their song is playing in the background! This album featured "Sunny Day," "Counting The Rosaries" and "Alice Everyday." Book Of Love will always have a special place in my heart. I have a lot of good memories attached to these songs and albums.

ned's atomic dustbinNed's Atomic Dustbin - God Fodder (Columbia)
Right before I got into Nirvana and grunge music I got into all the grebo bands of the UK. I don't think that I really knew that it was called grebo at the time. But I loved these bands. Ned's Atomic Dustbin, Jesus Jones, Wonderstuff, Pop Will Eat Itself and Carter USM. Grebo was sort of a mix of grunge and hip hop with garage rock and dance music. It was similar to the Baggy sound coming out at the same time. Bands like The Farm, The Soup Dragons and The Happy Mondays. Those bands were perhaps a bit more psychedelic and dancey, while Grebo was a bit more loud and punk influenced. The fashion of Grebo was similar to grunge: baggy clothes and lumberjack shirts, dreadlocks and partially shaved heads. The music also often featured lots of sampling. God Fodder was the debut album from Ned's Atomic Dustbin. And I really got into this album. Are You Normal? was released the next year. God Fodder featured "Kill Your Television" and "Grey Cell Green." I don't remember if I first heard these guys on KROQ or maybe saw their videos on 120 Minutes. I quickly became a fan though. My first roommate in college was a big Ned's fan and we quickly bonded over our mutual love of Grebo! Bands like this definitely got me ready for grunge.

Nirvana - Nevermind (DGC)
This is another one of those albums that I can't imagine high school without. This album was such a part of my senior year. The album was released in September of 1991, the month that my last year of high school started. It seems that somehow over the summer and the next couple of months that everyone had stopped listening to metal and started listening to Nirvana. Or they still liked metal and hated Nirvana. I somehow had never heard Nirvana until that summer before Nevermind came out. Bleach was released in 1989, but I seriously don't remember anyone listening to that album until after Nevermind came out. Obviously somebody listened to it. Just nobody that I knew. Sonic Youth, The Pixies and Dinosaur Jr. had sort of gotten me ready for Nirvana. And Ned's Atomic Dustbin! But I really didn't know what I was getting in for when I first bought this album. I listened to this album over and over in late 1991 and all through 1992. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was the first single on the album and took over KROQ and MTV. You could not get away from this song. I can sort of understand why people who didn't like the band just got sick of seeing them everywhere. But I was hooked and was happy to hear them everywhere. "Come as You Are" was probably the song that really got me obsessed with this band. Nirvana would be a part of my life for many years to come. They released In Utero two years later in 1993. And of course we all know where we were on April 8th, 1994. Kurt Cobain was my generation's Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison or Jimi Hendrix. He died at the height of his popularity. It doesn't seem like such a big deal anymore, but his death had a profound impact on many of us. This album has stayed with me after all those year, like any album on this list. Putting it on brings me right back to this period on my life. I love the album, but Kurt Cobain's death forever changed the way that I listen to it.

Morrissey - Kill Uncle (Sire)
Kill Uncle may not be everybody's favorite Morrissey album, but it remains my favorite of his from the '90s. Kill Uncle was released in March of 1991. I was a junior in high school and right in the early stages of my Morrissey obsession. I had only really gotten into him the year before, but I had already worn out all my Morrissey and Smiths albums. So I was ready for this new album. Your first album that you hear by an artist is always special. But that first album that you actually buy the day it comes out is even more special. I still remember listening to it for the first time while reading the liner notes. The album opens up with "Our Frank." This album is seriously fantastic! You might have forgotten. It also features "Sing Your Life," "Mute Witness," and "(I'm) The End Of The Family Line." "Sing Your Life" is still one of my favorite Morrissey songs. And I always forget how good "Mute Witness" is. The Kill Uncle tour was also the first time that I saw Morrissey live. So this of course is probably part of the reason that I love this album so much. I saw him many times over the last 20 years. But that first time was still the best! I don't need to waste any of your time explaining why Morrissey is so fantastic. You either love him or you hate him. And some of us may just love The Smiths. But I was always a fan of his solo work. And especially the first couple solo albums.

This Mortal Coil - Blood (4AD)
This Mortal Coil! I love anything and everything that this band has put out. Blood was my first This Mortal Coil album. The third album that they released. This Mortal Coil was not really a band. It was basically a super group of the artists from the label 4AD. Ivo Watts-Russell was the founder of the label and the man behind This Mortal Coil. He brought them all together and managed to put out 3 amazing albums. It'll End In Tears in 1984. Filigree & Shadow in 1986 and Blood in 1991. I love all three of them. But this is my favorite. Most of the songs on these albums were covers of folk songs. This my first introduction to the songs of Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen! Blood features Tanya Donelly (Belly/Throwing Muses), Kim Deal (Pixies/Breeders), Deirdre & Louise Rutkowski, Caroline Crawley (Shelleyan Orphan), Anne Garrigues, Alison Limerick, Gini Ball, Heidi Berry, and Dominic Appleton (Breathless). The previous albums had featured members of Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance and Cindytalk. I got obsessed with all three of these albums. They became my going to sleep albums. I would often play one of them while I was falling asleep. But I would never want to fall asleep until I got to the last song on the album. These albums introduced me to many of these artists for the first time. I really feel like I need to personally thank Ivo Watts-Rusell for giving us 4AD and these This Mortal Coil albums. I still go back to these albums whenever I need some comfort in my life. It is a sort of therapeutic experience listening to these albums. This Mortal Coil recently released a box set of these albums and they have now also been reissued individually.

Electronic - Electronic (Warner Bros.)
Electronic was like my dream come true. It was basically a supergroup combining two of my favorite bands. Bernard Sumner from New OrderJoy Division and Johnny Marr from The Smiths. They also worked with Neil Tennant from The Pet Shop Boys on a couple of songs. The album sounds way more New Order than The Smiths. I think it allowed Johnny Marr to experiment with new instruments and create different kinds of songs. The name of the band was perfect. The album was perfect. It featured the single "Getting Away With It" which had been released a couple of years earlier. The album also featured "Idiot Country," "Reality," "Tighten Up" and "Gangster." You can't really get better than this album. It might have seemed weird at first that Bernard Sumner and Jonnny Marr would be collaborating on a new project, but it proved to be the perfect match. The album is full of great energy. It is a dance record for sure. But it has the intensity of a really good collection of New Order songs. These are dance pop songs. These guys knew how to write a great song. I still can't turn this album off once it starts. They also went on to create one of my favorite songs, "Disappointed," a couple of years later. That song was featured on the Cool World soundtrack. Electronic went on to create two more albums in 1996 and 1999.

Erasure - Chorus (Sire)
Erasure had already been in my life for many years. In the late '80s I was obsessed with only a couple of bands. They were The Cure, Depeche Mode, Siouxsie & The Banshees, New Order, The Pet Shop Boys, The Smiths and Erasure. I think I had discovered Erasure around their second album, The Circus, in 1987. They just seemed to be getting better and better as the years went on. They released The Innocents in 1988 which featured "A Little Respect" and "Chains Of Love." Then they put out Wild! in 1989 which featured "Star" and "Blue Savannah." Chorus was their fifth album and their last truly great album. It featured "Chorus," "Breathe Of Life" and "Love To Hate You." I had really like Wild! so I was very excited for this album to come out in 1991. It was released in October of 1991, a month after Nevermind by Nirvana. It couldn't be more different than Nevermind, but somehow I loved both of these albums equally. I am sure there were many days when I listened to both Nevermind and Chorus on the same day. Erasure really helped create the whole dance pop sound that influenced tons of bands over the years. I am not sure if we should thank them or not for that. But they did manage to create some brilliant pop songs over the years. Erasure was Andy Bell and Vince Clark. Vince Clark managed to help create three of my favorite bands: Depeche Mode, then Yaz, and finally Erasure. Every once in a while I go back and listen to this album and quickly remember why I fell in love with it in the first place. It is just a perfect album of its genre. Erasure was never able to create an album this consistently perfect ever again. But they sure did create some catchy songs and they have made a lot of us very happy over the years.

Check for these albums here on Amoeba.com

Up next...1992
 

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The 90s...the best albums of 1990...

Posted by Brad Schelden, October 6, 2012 10:29am | Post a Comment

I have been thinking about the early '90s a lot lately. I graduated from high school in 1992, and that was 20 years ago! So I have been all sorts of nostalgic this last year about my formative music years. I was born in the '70s. But I really grew up in the new wave '80s. 1984 - 1986 were really the years that I first remember getting obsessed with music. These are the early years of MTV and the years I fell in love with new wave and all things British. The B-52's and Berlin were probably the only bands that I loved that actually came from the United States. Most of my favorite bands and albums throughout the '80s and '90s came from England.
 

My favorite bands in 1984 are pretty much my favorite bands today. I can't imagine my life without New Order, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Smiths, Human League, Pet Shop Boys, Ultravox, Talk TalkBauhaus. These bands have been a huge part of my life. My British obsession would only get bigger over the years. I got deep into shoegaze and dream pop in the early '90s. Which then led me into Britpop and British dance music in the mid '90s.

I have been obsessively making lists and CD compilations of each year of the '80s and '90s. I have made a playlist for each year and a list of my 10 favorite albums from each year. I will slowly be sharing these with you over the next couple of months. I am going to start with the early '90s since these are the years that have been on my mind the most lately.

I got my musical start in the '80s. But it was really the early '90s when I started to get obsessed with actual bands and albums. I feel like that period in your late teens is the most important time for your musical development. That period when you are 15-20 years old. It was not just watching music videos and listening to songs on the radio anymore. This is the period when I first got a job and starting buying records! These were the albums that I went out and bought for myself.

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