Sunday, July 08, 2012

Life Songs: The ’90s part two

Sorry for the delay there, took me a while to ponder the second half of the ’90s. It was a weird time for me — I managed a store, then I was jobless, then I was back in school, then I was on a new career, so my tastes were all over the place. Here are my thoughts on what was around:

1995
  • Adam Ant — Won’t Take That Talk; Wonderful; Yin & Yang; Angel — So why is it that the guys who are basically sex on legs also tend to have a few bats in the attic? Anyway, this album is lovely, and Wonderful can make me cry.
  • Bjork — Army Of Me — So much angrier than the tracks on Debut, insistent. I prefer this song to any others she’s done actually.
  • David Bowie — The Heart’s Filthy Lesson; Hallo Spaceboy; I Have Not Been To Oxford Town; Thru’ These Architects EyesOutside (subtitled “the Ritual Art-Murder of Baby Grace Blue: A non-linear Gothic Drama Hyper-Cycle,” how’s that for pretentious?) wasn’t really as well-received as it should have been, I think — returning to his previous collaborations with Brian Eno, this album was the beginning of a planned arc that never got farther than this one album. A bit too concept-y for some perhaps, and to be honest at times it is less than expected, but at others it’s quite brilliant. Nine Inch Nails inspiration is evident here. Spaceboy in particular is amazing live, more energy than you might imagine possible.
  • Breeders — Cannonball — I know they had other songs, but honestly this is the only one I remember. And what a great song! Memories of managing the OBJ store at the Eaton Centre...
  • Marc Cohn — Turn On Your Radio — This is from Everybody Loves Harry, a tribute album to Harry Nilsson, and you all know how much I love him. Also a bargain bin find, at the CNE of all places. I have since bought two more copies as gifts, it’s just a great collection. There are two more from this album on this list, see below. This one is warm and enveloping, sleepy and dreamy.
  • Elastica — Connection — In the same vein as Breeders for me, a one-off that brings back memories.
  • Fool’s Garden — Lemon Tree — For some reason I always heard this at Canadian Tire. And thought it was Pukka Orchestra. Just goes to show you… something.
  • Garbage — Stupid Girl; I’m Only Happy When It Rains — Took me a while to come around to Garbage, they got so much airplay I sort of discounted them at first as overly popular crap. But looking back they were quite different, really new. Stupid Girl especially has some amazing sounds.
  • Indigo Swing — Swing Lover — Swing, thankfully, started to revive around this time; this was an excellent way to jump back in. Why don’t more people know this song? It’s cool and smoky and melty all at the same time.
  • Chris Isaac — Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing — Makes me feel a bit dirty.
  • Klark Kent — Love Lessons — Stewart Copeland teamed up with Derek Holt for this one, I think it was the last Klark Kent song to come out. Still juvenile: ‘I had to touch her, so I threw her in the pool.’
  • Leftfield — Shallow Grave — First time I recall ever seeing Ewan MacGregor and Christopher Eccleston was in this little claustrophobic, bizarre film. This trippy piece was on the soundtrack and perfectly suited it.
  • Ashley MacIsaac w. Mary Jane Lamond — Sleepie Maggie — Aah yes, do we all remember the year of Ashley MacIsaac? You know, before he let everyone know he liked to be peed on and committed social suicide? He’s still awesome btw. This might be the most popular song in a language no one understands they ever played on CFNY. Didn’t stop me from trying to sing along of course.
  • Aimee Mann — One — Another Harry song, and this one’s amazing. There’s something about Aimee Mann that makes everything a bit gut-wrench-y.
  • Peter Murphy — Disappearing; Cascade; Wish — A bit of a departure for him, sign of things to come perhaps. At times powerful, at others quiet and sedate. Cascade was, for me, the last truly great Peter Murphy album.
  • Oasis — Morning Glory; Wonderwall — I almost left them off, as I find them completely overrated, but I do like these two tracks. I get tired of the wall of sound-ness of it all though.
  • Florent Pagny — Caruso — Heard this on a compilation and was blown away. I mean, I’m not an opera person at all, but this one’s an operatic song about a famous opera singer, so right there that’s fun. It’s actually quite beautiful. You know, in a hyper-Italian way.
  • Presidents Of The United States Of America — Kitty; Lump; Peaches; Back Porch — So many people thought these guys were just a kitsch band with silly stuff but not worth really listening to, and the radio did seriously over-play Lump. But you’ve gotta get past that, because these guys kick serious bottom. Such a great sound, really tight — and I’m sorry, but you don’t have to be glum to play good music. And there was so much angry, pissy, gloomy grunge out then that this was sorely needed.
  • Pulp — Common People; Disco 2000; I Spy — All the ladies, swoon away! Jarvis Cocker was pretty hot, let’s be honest. But more than that, Pulp were stylish and smooth with a sound that oozed in and stayed.
  • Roches w. Mark Johnson — Spaceman — One more Harry song. This one’s fun and giddy.
  • The The — Honky Tonkin’; I’m A Long Gone Daddy; I Can’t Escape From You — The first in a planned series (that never happened) of albums covering different songwriters, Hanky Panky was all Hank Williams, and was fantastic. Didn’t get a lot of traction with the public though, which would explain why they didn’t do a second songwriter album. My Dad hates most of it, but quite likes Escape.
1996
  • Belle & Sebastian — Like Dylan In The Movies; If You’re Feeling Sinister — I wasn’t really into them at this point, learned to love them half a decade later, but have caught up since! Jangly and naive, all fluffy and twee.
  • Big Rude Jake — Swing, Baby! — Probably my favourite modern swing song. Insistent beat. Makes me want to go learn Lindy Hop.
  • Big Sugar — Diggin’ A Hole — Sounds grimy and dirty. Big Sugar have a reputation for being outrageously loud in concert, and you can believe it when you hear this one.
  • Butthole Surfers — Pepper — Pouring like an avalanche, coming down the mountain.
  • Cardigans — Love Fool; Iron Man — Aaaw, aren’t they cute? So bubbly and sweet, the last people you’d expect to tackle a Black Sabbath song and not only survive, but conquer!
  • Crowded House — Don’t Dream It’s Over — The spirit of Split Enz resurrected in a trio with a hotline to the world’s heartstrings. Dream was a MASSIVE hit, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it, and it didn’t lose anything from being played everywhere at all times. I adore this song.
  • Lisa Dalbello — Whore — Most people don’t remember this one, actually most people don’t remember her at all, but this is an interesting offering from her. She gives good face, yes.
  • Dead Can Dance — Song Of The Stars; Song Of The Dispossessed; The Snake And The Moon — For this album Brendan and Lisa pulled in a lot more Native American influence and ended up with something incredibly soulful and melancholy. A great album for a Sunday afternoon.
  • Dodgy — Good Enough — And the opposite of that is this incredibly happy-sounding entry from Dodgy! You’re welcome.
  • Lush — Ladykillers; 500 (Shake Baby Shake); Single Girl; Ciao! — More Lush! Everyone should have more Lush in their lives. Ladykillers is hilarious, we’ve all been there. And Jarvis Cocker shows up for Ciao! to help us see both sides of a breakup.
  • Nicolette — We Never Know, Except… (Roni Size Mix) — I got this as on a sampler disc with a Navigator purchase. The cologne was awful, but the disc was awesome, and this was the standout for me. A bit trance-y to me, kinda wish I’d heard this in a club at some point.
  • Rutles — Questionnaire; Eine Kleine Middle Klasse Musik; Joe Public — The Pre-Fab Four make their triumphant return (though without Dirk McQuickly, who had sadly gone into comedy) with an album just as brilliant but more mature than their debut — while that was more Beatles-y, this was definitely more John Lennon-y. Saw them perform all of these on the top of a restaurant!
  • Duncan Sheik — She Runs Away; Barely Breathing; Days Go By; Serena — He’s kind of brilliant. This album is beautifully layered and moody.
  • Sloan — Everything You’ve Done Wrong — Took me a long time to come around to Sloan actually, and now this is one of my faves, the horns just make it so happy. Definitely a summer song.
  • Sting — I Hung My Head; Twenty-Five To MidnightMercury Rising only recent started growing on me. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. It’s a far more mature album, a bit middle-aged really, but these two tracks play nicely.
  • They Might Be Giants — S-E-X-X-Y; Till My Head Falls Off; Exquisite Dead Guy; New York City; XTC vs. Adam Ant; Spiralling Shape — Yet another brilliant album from the Johns from Brooklyn! Spiralling Shape especially is a favourite, so much fun. I sometimes wonder if they take mind-altering substances while writing, it doesn’t seem possible that they could come up with this stuff without it…
  • Underworld — Born Slippy — You all remember Trainspotting, right? This is the movie in a nutshell.
  • Wallflowers — 6th Avenue Heartache — Jakob Dylan is so his father’s son. People seemed to fall out of love with this song, but I never did.
1997
  • Blues Jumpers — Good Morning Judge — The swing revival continues, this one’s a remake of an old Wynonie Harris tune, and just as fun.
  • Daft Punk — Around the World; Da Funk — How is it that a couple of French dudes dressed as robots can have so much funk in their souls? We may never know, best to just get up and dance.
  • Blur — Song 2 — Yep, that one. Can’t help it. Interesting facts (thank you Wikipedia): it’s the second song on the album, the second single released from it, it’s 2:02 in length, with two verses and two bridges. Also, it rocks (I didn’t need Wikipedia for that one).
  • David Bowie — Little Wonder; Looking For Satellites; I’m Afraid Of AmericansEarthling was an interesting followup to Outside, more combative and a little bit angry. These three are my favourites.
  • Chemical Brothers — Block Rockin’ Beats — You can’t beat that bassline, just get up and boogie.
  • Cornershop — Brimful of Asha — A warm, happy little tune about Indian musicians and everyone needing a bosom for a pillow.
  • Crystal Method — Busy Child — Once again, it’s all about the dancing. This one’s tight.
  • Era — Ameno — Screw Gregorian chanting (hey, remember when that was huge?), if you must listen to a dead language praising a higher power, listen to this one. It’s catchy.
  • INXS — Elegantly Wasted — Their last Hutchence-fronted release. Just as sexy as some of their earlier work, a bit addictive. Damnit, why do the super sexy ones always go crazy and die? Grr.
  • Korn — A.D.I.D.A.S. (remix) — I have to admit to a slight love for this song, I can’t stand the band but this one’s great on the dance floor.
  • Mediaeval Baebes — Adam Lay Ibounden; Gaudete — You want fantastic female vocals, this is where you go.
  • Orbital — The Saint — Such a great cover! Recorded for the Val Kilmer movie, definitely keeps the original feel.
  • Prodigy — Smack My Bitch Up; Breathe; Firestarter — Absolutely loved this for a couple of years, and you really couldn’t get away from it anyway, showed up in everything.
  • Finley Quaye — Sunday Shining — A great sound, a great voice.
  • Verve — Bitter Sweet Symphony — Such a shame they couldn’t keep the money from this, the Rolling Stones didn’t really agree with that themselves but it’s all about the copyright holders, isn’t it?
1998
1999
So that’s the ’90s done. I might have gone a bit overboard here, there were a lot of songs I just didn’t want to leave out. What do you think? Anything you would have left out/included? Let me know! Once I get a Grooveshark playlist made I’ll put the link up here. Previously: Life Songs: ’70s; Life Songs: ’70s, additional; Life Songs: The ’80s, Part One; Life Songs: the ’80s part two; Life Songs: the ’80s part three; Life Songs: the ’80s part four; Life Songs: the ’80s part five; Life Songs: the ’90s part one. Did you miss them?

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