Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Forgotten Albums of the 1990's

I was born in 1980. Nearly all of the music I listened to in the 80's was provided by my parents, either by controlling the radio or putting on various record albums. In the early 1990's I finally got my own walkman and cd player so I could pick out my own music. Starting out as any kid in a small town would I bought what I new, which was primarily stuff on the radio or MTV at the time. I was still searching for what I liked, what really spoke to me. I'd say 8th grade was the year when it all started to click for me. I had a friend at school that let me borrow Tool's Undertow cassette, the Walmart version with the UPC cover art. I also remember dubbing Nirvana's In Utero off the radio because for some reason the station was playing the entire album. What really pushed me down the road of the alternative rock that was becoming popular at the time was getting The Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream as a secret Santa gift from a girl in school. I listened to that cd over and over. It was also around this time that I discovered Pearl Jam's Ten, which was my going to sleep album for a long, long, time.

Anyway, as the 90's moved along, so did I, listening to heavier music, like Deftones, Rage Against The Machine and Sepultura and eventually the dreaded Nu-metal. For good or bad, I was always a bigger fan of Coal Chamber than Korn.

All that stuff is fairly well known and it's influences on my musical outlook are obvious. The real purpose of this post is to shed some light on some albums from the 90's that are maybe mostly overlooked, but are really worth checking out. They run the gamut from weird poppy stuff, to alternative rock, to heavy. Here's a list in no particular order:

1) Failure: Fantastic Planet - I learned about Failure from one of my best friends in high school. He heard about them through the Tool message board. Failure was a sort of space rock band. They could be heavy, the could be punky, they could be pretty. From the opening  clicky musicbox sounds of Saturday Savior I was completely hooked on this album. The album just plain rocks, I would argue that it's pretty flawless front to back. The band may have suffered from comparisons to Nirvana, but they really don't sound anything like Nirvana. After this album came out Failure broke up. Ken Andrews has had some solo albums and had another short lived band called Year of the Rabbit that was pretty good. Greg Edwards is in Autolux.

2) Hum: Downward Is Heavenward - Hum is probably most famous for their mini radio hit Stars from the album You'd Prefer and Astronaut, but their final record Downward is Heavenward is really something to be admired. Hum was always a loud band playing quiet songs. I don't even know what that means. Downward is Heavenward should have made them one of the biggest bands of the time, but it went relatively unnoticed and the band broke up. There are so many great heavy and spacey songs on this record. Green to Me, Dream Boat, The Isle of Cheeta, The Scientists. Give it a listen.

3) Lusk - Free Mars - Lusk features Paul D'Amour, formerly of Tool, and Brad Laner of Medicine. There were other people. I don't remember their names. Free Mars is an amazing record from start to finish. It's really a lush record that I listened to over and over and over again. This is really the only record the band made. I think I first saw Lusk on the short lived MTV show 12 Angry viewers, where a panel of people had to vote on which music video would go into rotation on MTV. Lusk had a sort of creepy video for Backworlds that I don't think won. I could be wrong. Anyway, it wasIl one of those songs that I was like "holy shit, what was that?" and I ran out and bought the record. I was so impressed I used the title of the song Mindray to create my first ever email address at ROCKETMAIL. Find this album. You won't be disappointed. I'm actually pretty pissed off that I can't find my copy of this cd. It's got to be somewhere right? Right?

4) Self - Subliminal Plastic Motives - This  record was a sort of home made pop record with odd catchy songs. I liked this album. I bought this record at a Sam Goody's near Baltimore. I remember buying it. I wonder how many people today remember what they were doing when bought an mp3?

5) Lovecup - Greefus Groinks and Sheet This album was release on the same Ten Inch Records label that put out Hum's Electra 2000. It was distributed through parasol mail order, which is where I got it from. You can find most of the songs on youtube now. It's just a great noisy rock record. Click the link above to hear Entirely Made of Wood. Here's another great song called Beloit. These guys came from the same Champaign Il scene that produced Hum.

6) Handsome - Handsome (s/t) - This was a heavy rock album released in the late 90's by some guys that worked with other hardcore bands, Quicksand maybe? It's a great record. Click the link to listen to Thrown Away. The guitars are super crunchy on this record.

7) Far - Tin Cans With Strings to You - Far were a lot like Deftones, heavy guitars with screaming vocals and quiet whispers. This is their first record. I had to special order it from the record store. There's a sort of cover of Paul Simon's The Boxer on here that is great. There's also a track called In the Aisle, Yelling that I remember blasting through my car stereo like there was no tomorrow.

8) No Knife - Hit Man Dreams - this was sort of a more punk version of Failure. As I listen back to it now, it kind of sounds like a precursor to post hardcore/emo, but also there's definitely some pop punk lurking in the song structures. Check out Sweep Away My Shadow

There are probably others that I'm not remembering at the moment. If you haven't heard these records please go check them out.

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