Tag: 1995

Wilco – A.M.

ARTIST: Wilco                              220px-Wilco

TITLE: A.M.

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: #27 Heatseekers

SINGLES: Box Full of Letters

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I Must Be High, Casino Queen

LINEUP: Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Ken Coomer, Max Johnston, Brian Henneman. Lloyd Maines adds some pedal steel.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Jeff Tweedy’s Wilco is first out of the gate for the post-Uncle Tupelo bands, but the record is flat and peters out at the end.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Even though Jay Tweedy won the battle of Wilco vs. Sun Volt (as it were) in the end, the debut Wilco album definitely didn’t start out great for him or the band.

A.M. was an alt-country album really wedded to Uncle Tupelo’s sound, and while it had a few good to great tracks (the first half of the record), the second half became boring and predictable.

That’s a shame, since the first three tracks (“I Must Be High”, “Casino Queen”, and “Box Full of Letters”) are great. Overall, it’s good but it was disappointing to everyone. Wilco wouldn’t disappoint much after this.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: John Stirratt sang one song on this album – the only non Tweedy vocal on any Wilco record.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE B-: If you lop it off at about track seven, it’d be an A- or B+.

Foo Fighters – Foo Fighters

ARTIST:Foo Fighters                    220px-FooFighters-FooFighters

TITLE: Foo Fighters

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: #23 US, #3 UK

SINGLES: This Is A Call (#2 Alternative, #6 Mainstream, #5 UK), I’ll Stick Around (#8 Alternative, #12 Mainstream, #18 UK), For All the Cows (#28 UK), Big Me (#3 Alternatie, #18 Mainstream, #19 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Alone + Easy Target.

LINEUP: Dave Grohl. Period. Except for a guitar solo by Greg Dulli.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A grief stricken Dave Grohl mourns Kurt Cobain by making his own record. It became a surprise hit.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Punk fans knew Dave Grohl as the drummer for Scream. Fans everywhere knew Grohl as the drummer and sometimes backing vocalist for Nirvana. But no one expected Grohl to become a successful solo artist. But here we are.

Some of these songs had been simmering in Grohl’s notebooks for years, and a cassette called Pocketwatch came out with some of his demos, but no one except insiders knew what Grohl was capable of or up to until this demo was shopped around under the name Foo Fighters and he signed.

Yes, this is a demo with Grohl playing and singing all of the material except for Greg Dulli’s solo on “X-Static”. After Grohl was signed, the demos were re-mixed (but not re-recorded), released, and it became a huge hit. The Foo Fighters were born.

The songs and performances are all strong, as Grohl was channeling his grief over Cobain’s death into a cathartic session. It’s not as punkish as Nirvana, definitely not like Scream. The weakest part are Grohl’s vocals, mostly because he was unsure of himself. But almost all of the tracks, including deep cuts like “Floaty” are strong and boded well for Grohl and the Foo Fighters career.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The songs were recorded in the order that appeared on the album.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A: This, this is a lot better than I remember. Highly recommended.

Son Volt – Trace

ARTIST: Son Volt                Son_Volt-Trace_(album_cover)

TITLE:  Trace

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: #166

SINGLES: Drown (#10 Mainstream, #25 Alternative)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Windfall, Live Free

LINEUP: Jay Farrar, Dave Boquist, Jim Boquist, Mike Heidorn. Eric Heywood added pedal steel.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After the acrimonious breakup of Uncle Tupelo, Jay Farrar forms his own band (like Jeff Tweedy) and releases probably the best record of his career.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Uncle Tupelo legacy battle was originally won by Jay Farrar, forming Son Volt with Uncle Tupelo founding drummer Mike Heidorn and the Boquist brothers. This first album is packed with tracks that may not have been out of place on any Uncle Tupelo record, except for the upgrade in the recording budget.

Farrar’s voice is weary and melancholy, which fits all of this material perfectly. The opener, “Windfall”, may be the best example of Alt-Country going, and as the album goes on, from ballad to rocker, Farrar and the band play with purpose and feeling.

As a document of where Alt Country was in 1995, this is it. It perfectly encapsulates the genre and why it was so important for the music scene.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Uncle Tupelo split in 1994 with Wilco and Son Volt forming soon after. Wilco got the Sire contract left over from Uncle Tupelo, while Son Volt signed with Warner Brothers

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. 

GRADE: A+: I wore this thing out in 1995, which is hard to do with a CD.

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.

 

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.