Tag: 1996

Sleater-Kinney – Call the Doctor

ARTIST: Sleater-Kinney               220px-Callsoctorskinney

TITLE: Call the Doctor

YEAR RELEASED: 1996

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None really

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Call the Doctor, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone

LINEUP: Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, Lora Macfarlane

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album from Olympia feminist punks establishes their cred as one of the best bands of the scene in the 90’s.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Starting out with the blast of “Call the Doctor”, a punk anthem for sure, but then moving to a complicated track like “Hubcap”, then a complete screamer like “Little Mouth”, Sleater-Kinney showed versatility in their attack and sound. They could change it up and still scream loudly if need be.

As the record goes on, you can feel Sleater-Kinney reveling in their songs and feminist power, strategically placing rage so you don’t get worn out. The structures of the songs are also varied and tricky, with the two-guitar attack varying and the riffs flowing (but not always the way regular rock riffs are constructed). When Corin Tucker says, “I’m the Queen of rock-and-roll”, there’s so much conviction that you believe her and will follow her.

You needed this record in 1996, and you need this record in 2019 to combat the crap going on in the world, right now.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Now, when they play “Joey Ramone” live, they change the reference in a lyric from Thurston Moore to Kim Gordon.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A+: Every song either grabs you immediately, or sneaks up on you later. Play it loud, and scare the patriarchy.

Tortoise – Millions Now Living Will Never Die

ARTIST: Tortoise                220px-Millions_Now_Living_Will_Never_Die_-_Tortoise

TITLE: Millions Now Living Will Never Die

YEAR RELEASED: 1996

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Djed, The Taut and the Tame

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nope

LINEUP: Dan Bitney, John Herndon, Douglas McCombs, John McEntire, David Pajo

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A long excursion and some shorter tracks. The long song intrigues, but some of the shorter ones fall flat.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “Djed” is the centerpiece of this second album by Tortoise, and it’s an almost 21-minute long work that turns and moves through several motifs and styles that challenges and intrigues the listener.

An on the ball listener could probably go through each of the genres referenced in “Djed”, but as a piece it’s evolution between styles make it its own. It’s fascinating and compelling.

There are five other tracks here, and they don’t reach the brilliance of “Djed”. A couple fall short and seem to be just filler or incomplete ideas, but a couple work pretty well. “Djed” though is the main attraction and the one that makes this worthwhile.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: David Pajo from Slint joined the group on bass.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE B+: “Djed” is tremendous but a couple of the other tracks fall short.

Built to Spill – The Normal Years

ARTIST: Built to Spill                  The_Normal_Years

TITLE: The Normal Years

YEAR RELEASED: 1996

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Most of them were singles

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not

LINEUP: Doug Martsch on all cuts. Andy Capps, Brett Netson, Brett Nelson, Ned Evett, and others appear on these cuts.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: K Records took all of the leftovers from Built to Spill and put this out before they hopped to a major label. It smacks of odds-and-sods.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Singles, B-sides, compilation tracks, etc. etc. It’s the usual compilation for an indie band who moves record companies. There’s good stuff, and…other stuff.

The opening cut “So & So & So & So from Wherever Wherever” starts out the collection in a promising way, with some heavily distorted and de-tuned guitars adding a crunch. A couple tracks are early versions of songs that found their way on their early albums.

You go in not expect much, and it’s just fine. There are some little gems here for the casual fans. The converted has this, no doubt, but it’s not high on their BTS rotation.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There is a cover of a song by K Records won Daniel Johnson.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE C+: It’s not bad, really, for what it is. It’s not where you start, though.

Fountains of Wayne – Fountains of Wayne

ARTIST: Fountains of Wayne      220px-fountains_of_wayne-fountains_of_wayne_(album_cover)

TITLE: Fountains of Wayne

YEAR RELEASED: 1996

CHART ACTION: #67 UK

SINGLES: Radiation Vibe (#14 Alternative, #32 UK), Sink to the Bottom (#42 UK), Survival Car (#53 UK), Barbara H (#119 UK), Leave the Biker

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None

LINEUP: Chris Collingwood, Adam Schlesinger, Danny Weinkauf

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: New Jersey new wave / power pop affecionadoes release their ‘tribute’ to the suburbs of the Tri-State area.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Starting out with a good one-two punch, the Fountains of Wayne (at this time a duo with a hired gun bassist) show their love for the 80’s new wave, catchy melodies, and their penchant for sneakily snarky lyrics.

But, as the record goes on, it seems the inspiration dries up a bit. Everything is polished, of course, but the songs seem forced at times, or suffer from too much irony.

A good debut and a good start for a band (they formed a touring band soon after this was released), but after three highlights it’s all kind of meh-ly good.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The bassist, Danny Weinkaupf, had been in bands with Adam Schlesinger, and is the bassist for They Might Be Giants.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A Japanese bonus track

 GRADE B: Some great tracks – enough to keep you in the game.

Nada Surf – High / Low

ARTIST: Nada Surf  220px-High_Low_(Nada_Surf_album)_cover_art

TITLE: High/Low

YEAR RELEASED: 1996

CHART ACTION: #63

SINGLES: Popular (#51 US, #11 Alternative, #123 UK), Treehouse, Deeper Well

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Doubt it

LINEUP: Matthew Caws, Daniel Lorca, Ira Elliot

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Alternative rock band with out-of-nowhere hit isn’t like typical post-Nirvana alternative bands.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: When you only hear of bands and songs in passing, you tend to judge them harshly – moreso than other bands you’re more familiar with. So I lumped Nada Surf in with the countless other alt rockers that emerged post-Nirvana and post-Pearl Jam popularity.

Whoops.

Over 10 tracks (not bloated, which is refreshing), Nada Surf plays energetic rock without being repetitive nor stupid. That’s refreshing. Songs like “Deeper Well” have a catchy chorus, and they do know their ways around hooks and riffs. But they change it up (“Stalemate”) and their hit (“Popular”) is a different kind of track that fits the record well.

It’s not totally essential, but it’s a very good 90’s alt rock record.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Caws and Lorca spent time in France and Belgium as kids.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

 GRADE: A-: Definitely worth a few spins for the alt-rocker in you.

L’il Kim – Hard Core

ARTIST: L’il Kim                      Lil_Kim_-_Hard_Core

TITLE:  Hard Core

YEAR RELEASED: 1996

CHART ACTION: #11 US, #3 R&B, #116 UK

SINGLES: No Time (#18 US, #9 R&B, #1 Rap, #45 UK), Crush on You (#23 UK), Not Tonight (#6 US, #3 R&B, #2 Rap, #11 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Big Momma Thang, Queen Bitch

LINEUP: L’il Kim, Puff Daddy, Notorious BIG, Jay-Z, L’il Cease, Junior MAFIA, Jermaine Dupri,  Lamarquis Mark Jefferson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut from the Junior MAFIA rapper who was in the Puff Daddy / Notorious BIG orbit. It’s absolutely filthy.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Oh, my stars and garters, this one will peel the boxers off anyone listening to it. L’il Kim’s raps, over solid beats and rhymes, and featuring the NYC rap elite of the mid-to-late 90’s, made her a star and somehow got on the radio, too. (How the heck could “Not Tonight” get on the radio, much less hit the Top 10? How? Oh, yeah, there was a remix.)

At times, the relentless hardcore raps gets wearing, but L’il Kim seemingly has a one track mind. She’s got some good flow, and does a pretty good job of being creative with her lyrics.

Working with Biggie, Puff Daddy, Jay-Z, and other helped Kim get success and this is probably her legacy work. Remove the skits (what a plaque on the rap house in this time), and it’s solid.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The remix of “Not Tonight” also had Da Brat, Left Eye, Missy Elliott and Angie Martinez

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B+: I run hot and cold on this, but really, it’s pretty decent, and it’s FILTHY.

 

Cake – Fashion Nugget

ARTIST: Cake                                      220px-Cake_Fashion_Nugget

TITLE: Fashion Nugget

YEAR RELEASED: 1996

CHART ACTION: #36 US, #1 Heatseekers, #53 UK

SINGLES: The Distance (#4 Alternative, #38 Mainstream, #22 UK), I Will Survive (#28 Alternative, #29 UK), Frank Sinatra, Friend Is a Four Letter Word

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None I bet

LINEUP: John McCrea, Greg Brown, Vince DiFiore, Victor Damiani, Todd Roper

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Clever alt-rock band gets a decent-sized radio hit that has outlasted the band and album.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Alt rock, with a little mariachi, and a lot of smarmy sass, Cake’s second album became a sensation on the alternative scene thanks to “The Distance” – one of the few original songs not written or co-written by John McCrea. Funny how that works!

“The Distance” has outlived the band, being used for all kinds of media since its release. That overwhelms the band and the album a bit, and there’s enough other material that’s decent enough that it’s not a hit-plus-filler situation, though just a few tracks reach the level of “The Distance.”

The covers seem a bit forced, though. I don’t enjoy this as much as their debut. I think their schtick is easy to figure out, to be honest.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They change the lyrics to “I Will Survive” and it gained a Parental Advisory sticker.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B: It’ll take you back to 1996, and that’s both good, and bad.

Pantera – The Great Southern Trendkill

ARTIST: Pantera                  220px-Pantera_The_Great_Southern_Trendkill

TITLE: The Great Southern Trendkill

YEAR RELEASED: 1996

CHART ACTION: #4 US, #17 UK

SINGLES: Drag the Waters, Suicide Note Pt. 1, Floods

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: If you bought it, you know it. Otherwise, no.

LINEUP: Phil Anselmo, Dimebag Darrell, Rex Brown, Vinnie Paul

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: An even louder and aggressive record than the other 90’s Pantera albums, except for the ballads.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Starting out with a hearty GROWL from Phil Anselmo, Pantera’s fourth major label album is loud and angry. Sometimes that’s all you need from metal, but, in this case it’s not

The songs that have a memorable riff and melody (well, as melodious as Anselmo gets) and hook are right there with the best of their tracks. That’s only a couple. The rest of the aggressive ones are just a blur of volume.

The ballads get them encroaching on Alice in Chains territory that doesn’t really bring out the strengths of the group (which in my ears are all metal). And that makes a track like “Floods” a bit schizophrenic, with a definite mellow kind of vibe, then it hits you over the head in kind of an abrupt transition.

It’s not bad, I’m not going to lie. But it’s something that won’t be on my regular rotation.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The band was fighting among themselves, so Anselmo did his vocals in another studio away from the rest of the group.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A live track in Japan, and an anniversary edition, of course.

 GRADE: C+: I’m not feeling this one.

The Roots – Illadelph Halflife

ARTIST: The Roots                           Illadelph

TITLE: Illadelph Halflife

YEAR RELEASED: 1996

CHART ACTION: #21 US, #4 R&B

SINGLES: Clones (#101 US, #62 R&B, #11 Rap), What They Do (#34 US, #21 R&B, #5 Rap, #49 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Lord, no

LINEUP: Black Thought, Kid Crumbs, Dice Raw, Rahzel, Hub Hubbard, Questlove, Kamal Gray with guests Bahamadia, Raphael Saadiq, Common, D’Angelo, Q-Tip, Urusula Rucker, and Cassandra Wilson.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Roots begin to become a force in the music community with their beats, raps, and inventive arrangements.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The sound of the Roots is like no other group, as they incorporate so many elements yet remain unique. That started here, with the production and direction of Questlove and other producers.

They were also quite anomalous for the time, as instead of acting hedonistically gangster, the Roots tackle several serious topics with street smarts still in place, but actual coherent political thought replacing mindless braggadocio.

The Roots started to get notice in the pop world as well, with a Top 40 single, and guests collaborating as equals to the band and not overwhelming them. A fantastic album.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: A few copies had the track list starting at #34, with their first two albums being tracks 1-33.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: A: The Roots sound of today is here.

 

Imperial Teen – Seasick

ARTIST: Imperial Teen                                         Seasick

TITLE: Seasick

YEAR RELEASED: 1996

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Imperial Teen, Butch, You’re One

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, no.

LINEUP: Rodney Bottum, Will Schwartz, Jone Stebbins, Lynn Truell

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Power-pop influenced band celebrates music and pop culture in a great hummable mix.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first three songs set the tone for Imperial Teen as a band – “Water Boy” is a hard-edged power pop song with an infectious chorus shouting “Bow down baby…bow down to me”. “Imperial Teen” is a quieter meditation that doesn’t make sense, not even “If I only had another hand / I’d cut it off and start a band”.
Then there’s “Butch”, a true power-pop song worthy of the Posies that’s rooted in gay culture with a great chorus line, “You like strawberries / I like you.”

All through this album are enjoyable melodies and enough rock to satisfy. It seems slight, and sometimes not all the way thought out – they were only together six months before recording this – but if you’re a power pop lover it’s worthy.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Rodney Bottum was / is in Faith No More and drummer Lynn Truell was in Sister Double Happiness.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: The more you play it, the more the songs sink in and reveal its charms.