Tag: 1995

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.

Guided by Voices – Alien Lanes

ARTIST: Guided By Voices                        220px-Alien_Lanes

TITLE:  Alien Lanes

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Motor Away

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Watch Me Jumpstart, As We Go Up We Go Down, Game of Pricks, My Valuable Hunting Knife, Striped White Jets, Blimps Go 90

LINEUP: Robert Pollard, Mitch Mitchell, Tobin Sprout, Greg Demos, Kevin Fennell

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Their first album for a ‘real’ record company (one that would give them an advance and all) filled up speakers with 28 lo-fi gems from Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout. Most of them work.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Still sounding like they recorded the record on a tape recorder with dirty heads and held together with duct tape, Guided By Voices cranks out 28 pop/rock tunes on their Matador debut, and I’ll be darned if most of them work, somehow.

The first seven songs really set the tone, and while afterwards there’s a few lesser tracks, most of them have great melodies and choruses and hooks. I mean, hooks are what GBV are all about. Do we really care about what songs like “Blimps Go 90” or “Striped White Jets” are about? No, do we sing along? Yes.

Those who love clean, pristine production should steer clear. But why are you listening to GBV anyway?

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The shortest song,  the 19 second “Cigarette Tricks”, is credited to four people.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-:  Almost an essential release – and several tracks need to be in anyone’s collection.

The Old 97’s – Wreck Your Life

ARTIST: Old 97’s                                                                                                                  220px-old_97s-wreck_your_life

TITLE:  Wreck Your Life

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Victoria, Doreen, Big Brown Eyes, W-I-F-E

LINEUP: Ken Bethea, Murry Hammond, Rhett Miller, Philip Peeples

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second full length record from the band sounds fresh and inspired, mining rock and country into a winning mix on many cuts.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Moving past the sometimes rushed sound of their first album, Wreck Your Life finds the Old 97’s comfortable in both country and rock, and both in moody songs and more driving tunes.

Rhett Miller’s wit and smartassery is evident in his songwriting and he can mine a country cliché for the best results, especially in “W-I-F-E”. The band sounds confident and clear, and they started to gain a lot of national traction in the alt-country movement. Ken Bethea’s guitar hangs out in the lower registers, as a good country guitarist does.

Not every song is memorable. There’s still a few filler tracks around to make the numbers. But the best songs are ones that the Old 97’s have carried forward in their career, and are true fan favorites.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Big Brown Eyes” was re-recorded for their major label debut.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-:  Just a couple of filler tracks, but the best songs are all-timers

Sleater-Kinney – Sleater-Kinney

ARTIST: Sleater-Kinney    sleater_kinney

TITLE:  Sleater-Kinney

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I really doubt it

LINEUP: Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, Lora Macfarlane

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  Short, quick debut album from the premier feminist rock band of the past 20 years.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Listening to “The Day I Went Away”, you have the blueprint for the best of Sleater-Kinney. Carrie Brownstein’s lower voice complementing Corin Tucker’s urgent howl, while their guitars combine to create riffs and chords that set a definite tone of urgency.

Tucker’s voice dominates, as she’s the sole lead on six tracks. Her at-times-unhinged-but-powerful voice makes tracks like “A Real Man” even more on point. Tucker also can carry a melody, which makes her leaps and her tremolo even more jarring and effective.

Tucker and Brownstein were already veterans of the Riot-Grrrl scene in Olympia, but this record transcended that, giving a sense of power and purpose that leapt over that movement’s limited reach.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They recorded this in Australia in a day. Macfarlane, their drummer, was from Australia.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: It’s short, and powerful. A feminist album for the millennials.

Ben Harper – Fight for Your Mind

ARTIST: Ben Harper                               benharperfightforyourmind

TITLE:  Fight for Your Mind

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Ground on Down, Excuse Me Mr., Gold to Me

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Maybe when he was on tour or at a jam band festival

LINEUP: Ben Harper, Brett Banduci, Danielle Charles, Oliver Charles, Bob Coke, Timothy Loo, Leon Mobley, Juan Nelson, Ervin Pope

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  Harper expands his musical palette, and also exhibits some jam band tendencies. That’s good and bad.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Ben Harper prepped for this second album by absorbing the atmosphere from the jam band scene and his tour with the Dave Matthews band. That opened up his music, and the arrangements complemented his lyrics.

The songs here are little more fierce and developed than his first album, and having more of a band helps him a great deal. Harper’s guitar work on acoustic and electric carries through the songs as well, but his tendency at times to overplay or over-extend shows that the jam band mentality didn’t always work.

This record is a step forward, and showed to everyone that Harper was going to be a great artist no matter where he goes on stage – be it festival, arena or theatre.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The songs on the album were represented by roundels symbolizing 13 African armies and Jamaica. Also, this isn’t on Google Play but available on Spotify.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: A little jam-bandy at times, but most of this grabs you and keeps you listenting.