Tag: 1995

Blink 182 – Cheshire Cat

ARTIST: Blink 182                     220px-Blink-182_-_Cheshire_Cat_cover

TITLE:  Cheshire Cat

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: #187 UK

SINGLES: M+M’s, Wasting Time

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: If you wrote the Blink 182 Wikipedia pages, yes.

LINEUP: Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus, Scott Raynor

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: San Diego punks embrace poppier motifs and run it into the ground.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Blink-182’s fan base in San Diego and related areas were large enough to get some demos released and distributed, and Cargo Records signed them. They wrote some newer tracks and reworked some and released this onto the public.

While this was a few years before they hit the mainstream big-time, the elements were all here. Punk sounds with poppy melodies, and in many cases, puerile and ‘humorous’ lyrics. At times, the tempo is a bit too fast to squeeze in all of the words without rushing over them. The tracks also, after a while, don’t sound unique at all – fast tempo, kinda spoken words about some injustice for teenagers or other, similar chords.

The lyrics wreck a few songs for me – they definitely sound ‘bro’ and firmly rooted in freshman high school boys’ mentality. I exiled a lot of those.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The Wikipedia sites for the Blink-182 albums and demos are larger and more detailed than almost every other album Wiki site, and the prose is definitely more fawning over the band, especially for a record that has a lot of puerile throwaways.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: C: Oh, sure, there are some decent pop-punk songs, but man there are some ‘funny’ lyrics that should make anyone over 15 squirm. Plus, the songs all begin to sound alike.

 

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The Sea and Cake – The Biz

ARTIST: The Sea and Cake          220px-Thebiz

TITLE: The Biz

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None

LINEUP: Sam Prekop, Archer Prewitt, John McEntire, Eric Claridge

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Chicago-area band continues its prolific exploration of jazzy indie rock sounds.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The jazzy parts of the first two Sea and Cake records were some of the best work they did, so in this third effort they lay back and see where things go, and they go into some nice grooves and sounds.

Evoking a quieter vibe than most of the decade’s artists, the Sea and Cake explore moods and sounds, creating some chill guitar parts and unobstrusive vocals that let the music shine through.

All of the musicians play off each other and at times it’s a jammy band thing, but with more jazz and less blues. It’s recommended for late nights with a bottle of wine and a nice tome.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was their third record in 12 months.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: A-: Just allow it to spin it’s wonder over a few playings.

Snapcase – Steps

ARTIST: Snapcase                    41Ogx1OiFiL

TITLE: Steps

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: It was a 4-song EP

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Doubtful

LINEUP: Daryl Taberski, Scott Dressler, Bob Whiteside, Jon Salemi, Timothy REdmond

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The metal/punk/emo band buys time with an EP.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: With changes in lineup happening quickly, Snapcase recorded a four-song EP to buy them some time and put down four songs.

The guitar work straddles metal and punk, and Daryl Taberski’s vocals are on the more ‘screamy’ side of punk, and the tone is definitely emotional, reminding one of a punk singer with a frog in his throat.

There’s nothing extraordinary about these four tracks, but there’s nothing horrible about it. It’s really an EP for completists, or people who want to document the early years of what became emo or screamo or whatever the kids call it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Most all of the changes in the band were members going off to finish school.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B:  It’s metal, it’s punk, it’s somewhere in the middle. Some good riffin’.

The Dismemberment Plan – !

ARTIST: The Dismemberment Plan  !_(The_Dismemberment_Plan_album)

TITLE: !

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Only the devoted.

LINEUP: Eric Axelson, Travis Morrison, Jason Caddell, Steve Cummings

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: DC-area band learned its lessons well.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: A band that definitely studied UK Post Punk and the late 80’s DC scene, The Dismemberment Plan’s debut is angular and sharp musically, and holds up decently to their later, more popular material.

Travis Morrison’s vocals are the first things that catch the ear, and his talky-singy delivery of his densely lyrical songs stand the band out a little bit from the crowd that was exploring the same kind of precise, jagged rhythms in their delivery of punk / indie / whatever you wanna call it.

Their songs are catchy despite the lack of truly melodious vocals, and they can kick up a racket. Their songs would improve – some of these do sound like filler or sound-alikes. But all in all, a good first record for an innovative band.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The name comes from something Ned Ryerson says in Groundhog Day.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B+: A dash of post-punk and a mix of Dischord means a decent album.

Pavement – Wowee Zowee

ARTIST: Pavement                      220px-WoweeZowee

TITLE: Wowee Zowee

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: #117 US, #18 UK

SINGLES: Father to a Sister of Thought (#148 UK), Rattled by the Rush (#91 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not unless you love Pavement

LINEUP: Stephen Malkmus, Scott Kannberg, Bob Nastanovich, Steve West, Mark Ibold

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The one where Pavement sheds their casual fans, for better or worse.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Those listeners expecting an album full of the more pop-oriented and tuneful songs of Pavement’s ‘hit’ singles were in for a surprise when this came out in 1995.

“Rattled by the Rush” is a song in that mode, with a catchy chorus, but the song itself sounds cobbled together from several left turns (doesn’t mean it’s not great), and the rest of the album defied pop expectations. It’s a quieter album for the most part; one where Stephen Malkmus sounds like he just woke up from a THC-induced nap to record his vocals.

I didn’t get this a bit at first, but time and distance have helped me embrace this a little more. The melodies are there, just hidden a bit. It did shed the fans that weren’t along for Pavement’s eclectic ride, and that may have been the intent.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The title is a homage to the first Mothers of Invention album, which had a cut called “Wowie Zowie”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a huge expansion with live cuts, B-sides, and other outtakes.

GRADE: B+: I was all set to give this a “C” before I listened to this again. It’s a good listen if you know it’s going to be a little off and a little mellower at times.

 

Guster – Parachute

ARTIST: Guster                    Guster_-_Parachute

TITLE: Parachute

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Window (maybe)

LINEUP: Ryan Miller, Adam Gardner, Brian Rosenworcel and a lot of friends

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Acoustic trio’s first album is an earnest effort.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Two acoustic guitars and a bare-handed percussionist sounds like a throwback to the hippie days of the 60’s, and in a way, it is. Guster, though, is more rooted in alternative and folk than the trippier psychedelic stuff and their harmonies and songwriting are definitely earnest.

A lot of their friends contributed on the album, which makes it sound fuller than just the base trio, but the acoustic guitars, the bongo-heavy percussion, and the harmonies are still at forefront no matter what else is behind them.

Over the course of the album, it does all begin to blur together. “Oh, this one has the acoustic guitars and bongos and the harmonies, he said…” Still, it was a refreshing change at the time to the bro-heavy grunge imitators.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They were originally called “Gus”, but another artists went by that name, so they had to change.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B: A good effort, but there’s not much variety.

The Roots – Do You Want More?!!!??!

ARTIST: The Roots                                         220px-Doyouwantmore

TITLE: Do You Want More?!!!??!

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: #104, #22 Hip-Hop, #2 Heatseekers

SINGLES: Distortion to Static (#96 R&B, #25 Rap), Proceed (#123, #79 R&B, #13 Rap), Silent Treatment (#105 R&B, #31 Rap)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not unless you’re a fan.

LINEUP: Black Thought, Questlove, Kamal Gray, Malik B, Scott Storch, Nikki Yeoh. Guests include Elo, Cassandra Wilson, Dice Raw, and Ursula Rucker.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Roots really begin here – using jazz, rock, R&B, and other music and sounds to create innovative and provocative hip-hop.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It seems the Roots have always been with us, melding hip-hop with all kinds of sounds, writing provocative rhymes, and keeping the genre fresh and innovative. But they didn’t emerge from the underground until 1995.

Even though some of the raps are angry sounding, they definitely were going against the ‘gangster’ genre into more of a politically focused style. Produced by the Roots and the Grand Negaz, this is definitely an antidote to what hip-hop was going to become, with an emphasis on real music and not samples. Definitely ahead of its time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Personnel would change as always, but keyboardist Kamal Gray joined and hasn’t left yet. He’s the longest tenured behind Questlove and Black Thought.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A-: A bold statement from a bold, innovative band.

Electric Wizard – Electric Wizard

ARTIST: Electric Wizard    220px-Electricwizardalbum

TITLE: Electric Wizard

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Doubt it.

LINEUP: Jus Oborn, Tim Bagshaw, Mark Greening

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First album from the UK doom / stoner metal band is doomy and detuned.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Guitars, detuned. Tempos, slow. Riffs, mighty. This follows modern doom / stoner metal’s playbook to a T.

Even though it’s their debut, they come at it fully formed, with all of the sludge you need if you’ve worn out your early Black Sabbath records. The vocals aren’t a shriek, but more of a lazy, clear tone. The lyrics feature the usual tropes – fantasy, the occult, black magic. You know the drill.

The length of the songs tends to wear out the listener, so even with the great title cut (for both the band and album) closing it, you’re worn out by then. Still, a decent debut.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The original Amon Duul’s recordings were unprofessional and only released after Amon Duul II were notable.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Leader Jus Oborn’s first band was Lord of Putrefaction

GRADE: B+:  A good debut for the sludgy doomers – you’ll love it if you dig that.

Whiskeytown – Faithless Street

ARTIST: Whiskeytown                      1905142

TITLE: Faithless Street

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not

LINEUP: Ryan Adams, Caitlin Cary, Skillet Gilmore, Steve Grothmann, Phil Wandscher. Bob Ricker, Nicholas Petti also appeared at times.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First record from Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown is the product of a band than just Adams’ own tunes.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Whiskeytown’s debut album showed a band that sounded like they had a great time making music together. They did, actually, despite the turmoil later.

This was an excellent alt-country record that was set more in the country side of the equation. Caitlin Cary and Adams harmonized well together, and Phil Wandscher’s guitar work was a great compliment. Cary, Adams and Wandscher all wrote as well. 220px-Faithlessstreet

The CD version of this record is packed with demos and other sessions, some that made it on their more famous albums, and it’s definitely better than just the single album.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Lo-Fi Tennessee Mountain Angel (for Kathy Poindexter)” was a tribute to the Picasso Trigger singer.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: See above

GRADE: A-:  It’s a bit ragged, but fun. Adams and the band sound like they’re having a great time.

Silverchair – Frogstomp

ARTIST: Silverchair                                        SilverchairFrogstompAlbumcover

TITLE:  Frogstomp

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: #9 US, #1 Heatseekers, #49 UK

SINGLES: Tomorrow (#1 Mainstream, #1 Modern, #59 UK), Pure Massacre (#12 Mainstream, #17 Modern, #71 UK), Israel’s Son (#39 Mainstream), Shade

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: Daniel John, Ben Gillies, Chris Joannou

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Australian teenagers release their middle-school angst as modern rock songs. It’s better than you’d think for 15-year olds, but they’re still aping Pearl Jam quite a bit.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After become a sensation in Australia, the US modern / alternative rock industry (which was just as much as an industry as traditional rock) glommed onto “Tomorrow” in their relentless quest to find the next Pearl Jam (or Nirvana or you name it). They succeeded here, as Silverchair became a smash on rock radio and sold a lot of albums.

The fact that the band was a trio who would be freshmen in high school wasn’t a concern. They did sound older than their years, and their songs were pretty heady for kids that young. While they weren’t THAT original, they were good enough to be legit, and wound up better than many other ‘new Pearl Jam’ bands (or whatever…)

I didn’t like it when it was out, probably due to the overwhelming plays on my alternative rock station of choice, but listening now, it’s not that bad, and actually some tracks are pretty classic 90’s grungy alt-rock.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This hit #1 in Australia, and pretty quickly.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a 20th anniversary release.

 

GRADE: B-:  Not horrible, not original, but not horrible.