Goal: Using this as a guide
, listen to every single album released in the year 1995, the year I was born.
Rules: If an artist I've never heard of released their third album in 1995, then I have to listen to their first two albums first. If an artist I've never heard of released their sixty-third
album in 1995, then I have to listen to their first sixty-two albums first. In order. I'm doing this because I think context matters and it'll allow me to witness their growth as an artist, which I think is an important thing to do if you're a serious music-listener. If an artist released their 200,000th album in 1995 or some shit, then I'll probably just not even bother listening to it.
Only original "full-length" studio LPs will be counted; no EPs, mini-albums, live albums, mixtapes, compilations, soundtracks, remixes, tributes, or rereleases will be listened to unless I deem it necessary. I'll probably listen to all the EPs at some point down the line, but as for everything else, I'll only bother with them if I end up liking the artist.
When I'm done, I'll be able to make a list of the best and worst albums released this year. That will be fun.
Currently, my favorite album of 1995 is the self-titled Alice in Chains, which is sitting at a strong 9/10, so a record has to be at least that
good to be considered in the running for best album of this year, even though, the Grammys wound up granting that distinction to Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill. Which, all things considered, is a pretty great album, too.
I'll be posting reviews here too, I guess, but since it would be a complete waste of everyone's time to review albums that are both bad and old, so I'll only bother to give full reviews for albums that I actually enjoy and think are worth listening to. Everything else, I'll just have a quick blurb or rough write-up of thoughts, or perhaps even nothing at all.
Here's everything I've listened to so far:
Fu Manchu - Daredevil
It's okay. Scott Hill's particular twangy vocal style grates on my nerves a little bit, but they have some decent jams here and there. It's the exact kind of music I'd expect Dietrich to enjoy or listen to. It's not great, and it never goes beyond decent.
This group has since put out ten other albums since then, but I can't say I'm all too interested to listen to more.6/10
Sentenced - Amok
Melodic death metal
This album was a big departure from the typical death metal style that this Finnish outfit conformed to with their first two LPs, especially their debut, injecting their sound with cuddly things like melody and (gasp)
clean vocals. This new direction was apparently too much to bear for lead vocalist Taneli Jarva, and he left the band shortly after producing this record.
I tend to dislike this kind of music as a rule, but I do like melody, which instantly makes any extreme rock genre a lot less difficult for me to listen to. However, ultimately, I think Sentenced dropped the ball on this one a bit, to where I actually prefer their first two records a great deal more. You could argue that their first album was just a Death rip-off, but in trying to become their own group, it just sounds like they've lost their edge. Somehow, it's a disappointment.
They have since released five albums, but naturally, I don't care to listen to the rest.6/10
Wade Hayes - Old Enough to Know Better
Smif-N-Wessun - Dah Shinin'
Hardcore hip hop
All right, time for some good shit. I can't believe I've never heard of these guys before until I started doing this, but don't make the same mistake I made and assume that one of them is called Smif and the other Wessun (which would've been a little corny). That's just the group name; they're actually called Tek and Steele, and they actually go pretty hard.
The dark and murky production is really cool, even if the common hip hop song-titling convention of misspelling words intentionally to make them look cool or whatever ("Wrekonize," "Wontime," "Timz in Da Hood Chek") make me cringe like a motherfucker. Don't let that dumb shit turn you away, though, because it's actually a pretty solid debut that I'd recommend to just about anyone who is curious to know what hip hop sounded like during its adolescence.7/10
Brownstone - From the Bottom Up
Throwing Muses - University
Throwing Muses started off as a post-punk outfit somewhat in the vein of Siouxsie and the Banshees, but frankly, it wasn't until they dropped that act that they started to mature a little bit as artists and actually release some good alt-rock albums like Red Heaven
and especially The Real Ramona
, which sits as my current favorite.
This 1995 release, though, was ever so slightly disappointing. It's hard to describe why, because I found it so forgettable, but I think it just boils down to it lacking anything special about it. Their previous few efforts had memorable songs, and even though University
does have their first international hit in "Bright Yellow Gun," I actually thought it was a fairly dull track, and I never would've guessed it were this album's lead single if you asked me.
I guess I'm not entirely opposed to listening to the stuff they've made since this album, but even among their records I enjoyed more, it's not like any of them are particularly outstanding. So I might just decide to pass it up.6/10
The Roots - Do You Want More?!!!??!
Ask any hip hop oldhead for his or her top 10 MCs of all time, and they're probably going to mention Black Thought. He's known for being one of the most lyrical and talented rappers of all time, but if you're under the age of 20, you probably wouldn't even know who he is, to say nothing of Malik B or producer Questlove.
This is a good record, on par or perhaps slightly better than the previously discussed Dah Shinin'
by Smif-N-Wessun. But it's a difficult one to recommend. The track listing numbers the songs from 18 to 33, rather than 1 to 16. This is because the album is meant to be a continuation of their first record, Organix
. This is what The Roots likes to do with all of their albums; the first track on their latest album continues on, number-wise, from the last track of their previous album, giving their music a sense that it's all interconnected. This is cool, but it discourages me from listening to their shit out of order, and makes it hard for me to recommend an album that's caught in the middle of their discography. I'm sure that kind of thing only bugs me, since it has nothing to do with the music itself, but I think it's still worth thinking about, given that it was an intentional decision to mark the track numbers in this way.
If you're only into modern day hip hop with the crazy-ass production, this one might not be for you, especially if you can't get behind jazzy beats. Black Thought's character and charisma throughout this record is undeniable, though I can see his boisterousness being an irritant to some listeners. It's also the sort of rap album that practically requires you to pay attention to the lyrics, which is where the real meat is. That type of thing isn't for everyone, especially these days, where a lot of people just want a sick beat to vibe to. If that's the case, look elsewhere, but if you can get behind cool lyricism, definitely check this one out, but only after listening to Organix
That's all I have right now. The next thing I need to listen to is The Rapture
by Siouxsie and the Banshees, their 11th and final album, which means I'm having to listen to ALL of their previous albums first. I'm currently on their fifth, so I'm making my way up to it. So far, it's been worth it. Juju
is a great record and a new favorite.
RANKING (so far)
#1. Do You Want More?!!!??!
by The Roots
#2. Dah Shinin'
by Fu Manchu
by Throwing Muses
#6. From the Bottom Up
#7. Old Enough to Know Better
by Wade Hayes