Tag: 1995

No Doubt – The Beacon Street Collection

ARTIST: No Doubt 

TITLE: The Beacon Street Collection

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION:  None

SINGLES: Squeal, Doghouse

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Only if you were a superfan.

LINEUP: Gwen Stefani, Tom Dumont, Tony Kanal, Adrian Young. Eric Stefani wrote a lot of the record and was on it off and on. Brad Nowell of Sublime chipped in, and a horn section was around too.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Feeling screwed and stifled by Interscope, No Doubt recorded this on their own and sold it at shows and at local record stores. It was snapped up by fans, and it caused Interscope to change their attitude on the band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: With their first album stiffing, and grunge being the flavor of the month, Interscope Records rejected a lot of stuff from their second album and forced them to record with old pro Matthew Wilder (of “Break My Stride” fame). Frustrated, Eric Stefani, the main songwriter and creative czar, left the band, but not before recording a couple of singles with them and writing the bulk of this album.

What is this and how did it come out? It was a middle finger to Interscope, who did everything they could to bury the band, it seemed. Many of the tracks were recorded in a garage that was converted to a studio over a long weekend. It was sold at shows, and at local record stores.

The music is an evolution from their first album, and has a more coherent style. The songs were influenced by the punk movement as well as ska, and there seem to be no genre hops out of nowhere. It’s safe to say this set the table for their huge success, even if the songs weren’t hits.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The album sold out quickly, which opened Interscope’s eyes and allowed them to finish their next record. Which was historic.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE: B+: It’s got a charm to it. It definitely is an evolution. There’s not a sure-fire hit but it’s quality stuff.

Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness

ARTIST: Smashing Pumpkins

TITLE: Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness 

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION:  US #1, UK #4

SINGLES: Bullet with Butterfly Wings (#22 US, #2 Alternative, #4 Mainstream, #20 UK), 1979 (#12 US, #1 Alternative, #1 Mainstream, #16 UK), Zero (#49 Airplay, #9 Alternative, #15 Mainstream), Tonight Tonight (#36 US, #5 Alternative, #4 Mainstream, #7 UK), Thirty-Three (#39 US, #2 Alternative, #18 Mainstream, #21 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: X.Y.U., Muzzle

LINEUP: Billy Corgan, D’Arcy Wretzsky, James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlain. Greg Leisz played pedal steel.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A L-O-N-G record with some masterful songs, and some songs that needed pruning.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: You talk about bloat? You thought the Smashing Pumpkins last album was too long and hard to get through at once? Well, you ain’t heard nothing yet.

This double CD (28 tracks, originally thought of 32 early on out of 56 they considered after recording about 70 or so, and 30 on the original vinyl version) has a wide array of tracks in both length and motif.

This is where Billy Corgan and his mates break out of their alt-rock motif and dabble in chamber pop, acoustic folky songs, prog rock epics, and guitar freakouts. Many of the songs are classics – touchstones of the mid-90’s. The deep cuts were interesting and revelatory. They were all over radio and MTV.

Yet, for all the accolades and sales, this record could use a good whacking at times. A lot of the songs go about a minute too long, sometimes two minutes. The quieter tracks aren’t sequenced in a way where they would be most effective – they get lost in the noise. I don’t know if I’d trim a track myself but a couple could go missing without being a big loss.

Corgan thought of this as a concept record about a teenage day in the life, and despite this being his concept for once the entire band contributed arrangements, solos, and played their instruments. It does sound like more collaboration instead of being a one man gang, for sure. 

But this is an album that is tough to listen to all at once, simply because it’s just way too long. The extended endings on many songs make one say ‘get ON with it’.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: One of the outtakes was a pastiche of about 70 songs that they demoed and / or considered for the album.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, of course. The original vinyl version had two extra tracks. They released another version with lots of extras and demos and a live DVD.

 GRADE: A-: I don’t know if it deserves to be cut down to a single album, because of the breadth, but an editor was really needed on some tracks for it to earn an A.

Low – Long Division

ARTIST: Low                                    220px-Low_Long_Division

TITLE: Long Division

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: Nope

SINGLES: Shame

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Ummm…no

LINEUP: Alan Sparhawk, Mimi Parker, Zak Sally

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Sparse, slow, elegant.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Up there, I said sparse, slow, elegant to describe the album in an nutshell. I don’t think anything else can describe this album.

The second long-player from Low digs into the slowcore, with beauty in slowness, in space, in minor keys and harmonies. But it doesn’t seem depressing all the way through. It even sounds uplifiting at times when they move from a very quiet and spase arrangement to something more ‘lively’.

Tracks like “Violence”, “Caroline”, and others were a definite antidote to the post-grunge clatter that was happening. In its quiet, angst and hope are delivered without sound-alike noise.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: AllMusic lists a track as written by the guys in .38 Special. Though it shares a title, and Low has covered some oddball tracks outside of their idiom, this is not that .38 Special song.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A: The more you listen, the more you’re enchanted by the slow elegance.

 

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.