1995 albums

 
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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
Stoner rock
Sophomore LP

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
3rd LP

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
Country
Debut LP

5/10





Smif-N-Wessun - Dah Shinin'
Hardcore hip hop
Debut LP

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
R&B
Debut LP

6/10





Throwing Muses - University
Alternative rock
6th LP

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?!!!??!
Jazz rap
Sophomore LP

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 first.

7/10



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 Smif-N-Wessun
POWER GAP
#3. Daredevil by Fu Manchu
#4. University by Throwing Muses
#5. Amok by Sentenced
#6. From the Bottom Up by Brownstone
#7. Old Enough to Know Better by Wade Hayes
Last Edit: November 02, 2018, 05:14:31 PM by Verbatim


Desty | Mythic Inconceivable!
 
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Oh nice, I needed this list.


 
Verbatim
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Oh nice, I needed this list.
thanks, i try to only post about the most relevant and topical things


A Handful Of Nothing | Mythic Inconceivable!
 
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Cal Chuchesta here


 
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I DONT GIVE A SINGLE -blam!- MOTHER -blam!-ER ITS A MOTHER -blam!-ING FORUM, OH WOW, YOU HAVE THE WORD NINJA BELOW YOUR NAME, HOW MOTHER -blam!-ING COOL, NOT, YOUR ARE NOTHING TO ME BUT A BRAINWASHED PIECE OF SHIT BLOGGER, PEOPLE ONLY LIKE YOU BECAUSE YOU HAVE NINJA BELOW YOUR NAME, SO PLEASE PUNCH YOURAELF IN THE FACE AND STAB YOUR EYE BECAUSE YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A PIECE OF SHIT OF SOCIETY
New York/east coast hip hop is boring as hell to me. I have never once liked that style apart from some biggie and wu tang songs.


 
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New York/east coast hip hop is boring as hell to me. I have never once liked that style apart from some biggie and wu tang songs.

Not even Nas? Guy is one of the strongest lyricists to ever live.


 
Verbatim
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New York/east coast hip hop is boring as hell to me. I have never once liked that style apart from some biggie and wu tang songs.
Not even Nas? Guy is one of the strongest lyricists to ever live.
can't pick a beat to save his life though


 
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New York/east coast hip hop is boring as hell to me. I have never once liked that style apart from some biggie and wu tang songs.
Not even Nas? Guy is one of the strongest lyricists to ever live.
can't pick a beat to save his life though

yeah

thats why i say it was written > illmatic

waaaay better beat selection


Dietrich Six | Mythic Inconceivable!
 
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Excuse me, I'm full of dog poison
New York/east coast hip hop is boring as hell to me. I have never once liked that style apart from some biggie and wu tang songs.

Red and Method put out some solid solo shit and are great together, but yeah other than that I'm not a huge fan.

I never got Biggie's appeal.


Dietrich Six | Mythic Inconceivable!
 
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Excuse me, I'm full of dog poison
Stoner rock can be ok but it's not really my jam verb. I'm thinking Charlie would be the one that's into it.


 
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I DONT GIVE A SINGLE -blam!- MOTHER -blam!-ER ITS A MOTHER -blam!-ING FORUM, OH WOW, YOU HAVE THE WORD NINJA BELOW YOUR NAME, HOW MOTHER -blam!-ING COOL, NOT, YOUR ARE NOTHING TO ME BUT A BRAINWASHED PIECE OF SHIT BLOGGER, PEOPLE ONLY LIKE YOU BECAUSE YOU HAVE NINJA BELOW YOUR NAME, SO PLEASE PUNCH YOURAELF IN THE FACE AND STAB YOUR EYE BECAUSE YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A PIECE OF SHIT OF SOCIETY
New York/east coast hip hop is boring as hell to me. I have never once liked that style apart from some biggie and wu tang songs.

Not even Nas? Guy is one of the strongest lyricists to ever live.
He’s ok I guess it’s just not for me. I mean I don’t like 2pac or Dre either apart from the beats.


 
Elai
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New York/east coast hip hop is boring as hell to me. I have never once liked that style apart from some biggie and wu tang songs.

Not even Nas? Guy is one of the strongest lyricists to ever live.
He’s ok I guess it’s just not for me. I mean I don’t like 2pac or Dre either apart from the beats.

Dre elevates anything he's involved with. He's a shit lyricist, though.

Pac is still one of the goats.


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Foo Fighters' self-titled is nice, I was surprised when I heard that it's all Dave Grohl on that album too.


 
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This is not the greatest sig in the world, no. This is just a tribute.
Stoner rock can be ok but it's not really my jam verb. I'm thinking Charlie would be the one that's into it.
charlie probably just fucks with dadcore stoner rock.
It's say it's more my shit, but California Crossing was a better album and Nebula ended up being a better band, so lol


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Are you going to count Pulse by Pink Floyd, even though it’s essentially all songs already released by that point?


 
Verbatim
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Are you going to count Pulse by Pink Floyd, even though it’s essentially all songs already released by that point?
looks like a live album too, so yeah, i wouldn't count it

do you ask because it's good, or what


put ur hands up 4 detroit | Mythic Inconceivable!
 
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looks like a live album too, so yeah, i wouldn't count it

do you ask because it's good, or what
Yeah, I actually enjoyed it. I don't really expect anybody else to since my only thoughts the first time I gave it a listen were repeatedly 'when does this song fucking end?' but if you feel like sitting down and giving Pink Floyd's discography a listen It's actually quite nice.


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Excuse me, I'm full of dog poison
Bruh, you get to listen to one of my favorite aphex twin albums.


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If I'm not here, I'm doing Photography. Or I'm asleep. Or hungover. One of those three, anyway.

The current titlebar/avatar setup is courtesy of Ugly Americans, with a little hint of Apocalypse Now.
Nice list, got some Chemical Brothers coming up.


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YouTube


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They say you are what you eat, but I don't remember eating mYsELF
This is a really cool idea. Enoying Dah Shinin' at the minute


 
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Siouxsie and the Banshees - The Rapture
Alternative rock
11th and final LP

In my journey through the Banshees discography, I actually wound up finding myself a new favorite. Given that they've been making music since the late '70s and are largely considered a pioneer of post-punk and gothic rock, even influencing the likes of Joy Division and The Cure (Robert Smith even played guitar for them for a period of time), so I'm ashamed to have never discovered them sooner. Their 1981 album, Juju, is my current favorite for being so far ahead of its time. The guitar work on that record by then-guitarist John McGeoch is insanely good, and he was a very unique talent. I'd recommend that one to everybody whose into somewhat older transgressive rock music.

The Rapture, on the other hand, was the band's denouement. It's somewhat of a return to form, for in the years after McGeoch was fired from the band for being an alcoholic shithead, the Banshees experimented with a variety of styles—often to mixed results, though I wouldn't say they've ever made a bad album. The Rapture is no exception. It's a solid final effort that doesn't quite attain the heights achieved in their best years, but has enough good material on it to make you think, "Yeah, she's still got it." I'd personally stick with the old stuff, though.

7/10




Extreme - Waiting for the Punchline
Hard rock
4th LP

Extreme was one of those shitty hair metal acts that came onto the scene far too late into the game—you probably know the song "More Than Words," or perhaps the fun "Play with Me"—but since grunge was the new hotness, they did on this album what everyone rightfully maligns every other metal act for doing—the classic transparent sellout move of jumping on the bandwagon. It wouldn't be so bad if the music actually felt genuine or sounded like it came from the heart, but you can actually hear the lust for money in Gary Cherone's disgusting voice as he puts on his very best Chris Cornell or Scott Weiland impression for this hack of a record. It's embarrassing.

The first track alone was enough for me to determine officially that these guys fucking suck. It's a song called "There is No God," and in spite of the name, it's actually a satire and biting critique of atheist thought. There's nothing wrong with injecting your personal beliefs and convictions into your art, but reading into the lyrics on this one, it's really hard for me not to cringe at the sheer bitterness that this guy exudes at the mere suggestion that someone doesn't share the same beliefs as him. It's just a sour way to open an album, and only serves to alienate people who otherwise wouldn't give a fuck what you believe in. What is a song like this doing on an Extreme album, anyway? It's rather out of character for a band that used to make songs about youth and boyhood and shit.

If that song wasn't enough, though, look no further than the song "Naked," which is one of the most unbearable rock songs I've ever heard. It's supposed to be the kind of song you'd play for a sexual partner to, I don't know, "set the mood" or whatever. The lyrics are pretty hilarious.
Quote
So you want me to take it off
Just to see what's
Underneath my cloth
I'll show you I'm every
Inch a man
Measure all that you
Think you can
Quote
Naked, and I'm unashamed
Naked, with no one to blame
Naked, ya you want the truth
Naked, here's my birthday suit
Naked, naked, naked, naked

Call me a prude, but I can't think of a more unsexy way to describe a nude male body than the term "birthday suit." This cornball style of lyricism pervades the album and makes the experience all but unlistenable.

That being said, credit where it's due, Nuno Bettencourt is a great guitarist, and is the one saving grace of the record. "Midnight Express" showcases his talents pretty well, and he's the only thing stopping me from slapping a 4/10 on this thing. Not that it matters.

5/10





Thunder - Behind Closed Doors
Hard rock
3rd LP

Generic and unspecial record by a generic and unspecial arena rock band. Unlike Extreme, however, they never jumped on any bandwagons and stuck to their roots despite the waning popularity of the genre, which I think is respectable, even if it only dug themselves further in the hole.

6/10





Swans - The Great Annihilator
Experimental post-punk
9th album

One of my top favorite bands of all time, they released, in my opinion, one of their better albums in 1995.

Swans is a very difficult band to get into—very experimental, very abrasive, with several of their albums (especially the first four) sounding like these horrible, emaciated, mutant-like creatures that emerged from a tar pit, screaming "KILL ME, KILL ME"—but if you find yourself enjoying industrial soundscapes, transgressive lyrical topics, or extreme forms of music in general, you'll probably find Swans very easy to get into.

In fact, I would say The Great Annihilator is one of the more accessible albums they've ever produced, with a lot of the aggressive drum beats sounding vaguely danceable and relatively conventional song structures. Michael Gira's vocals are splendid as always, and Jarboe (whose sultry voice has typically been relegated to the background on previous albums, or exclusively singing soft ballads) shows her true range on this record. Prime example: the song "Mother/Father," my personal favorite, is an aggressive jam featuring an intense, roaring vocal performance from Jarboe. It's startling, yet awesome.

You do have some experimental cuts on this record, though, too. There's some creative instrumentation featured on tracks like "Blood Promise," "Mind/Body/Light/Sound," and "Killing for Company," which is always great for people who are perhaps tired of hearing the same old instruments being played, or being played in the same way, as a more conventional rock band, but not necessarily so out there that it's alienating.

That said, this is very much a "bad mood" kind of album. It's not something I'd play if I'm having a really good day, or something. It's a Swans album, so it's going to be rather unfriendly and uncompromising. As long as you listen to it with that in mind, then I think I've adequately prepared you. It's currently my favorite album that I've reviewed in this thread so far.

8/10





Dead Voices on Air - Hafted Maul
Experimental
Debut LP

Dead Voices on Air is Mark Spyby, who used to play for Zoviet France.

Speaking of unfriendly, this would be a great example of an album that I personally enjoy to an extent, but would have a very difficult time recommending to virtually anybody. For one thing, I don't even like it that much myself. There's some good stuff, but it's not all great. For another, it's a series of relatively harsh industrial instrumentals featuring highly experimental production, but no sense of cohesion, purpose, or direction. It just sounds like a hobbyist making disgruntled-ass music for no rhyme or reason. Interesting, but not mind-blowing.

7/10



RANKING (so far)

#1. The Great Annihilator by Swans
#2. Do You Want More?!!!??! by The Roots
#3. Dah Shinin' by Smif-N-Wessun
#4. The Rapture by Siouxsie and the Banshees
#5. Hafted Maul by Dead Voices on Air
#6. Daredevil by Fu Manchu
#7. University by Throwing Muses
#8. Amok by Sentenced
#9. Behind Closed Doors by Thunder
#10. From the Bottom Up by Brownstone

Next I'll be trying some Laughing Hyenas, The Human League, Van Halen, and Too Short.
Last Edit: November 18, 2018, 01:21:41 PM by Verbatim


 
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I DONT GIVE A SINGLE -blam!- MOTHER -blam!-ER ITS A MOTHER -blam!-ING FORUM, OH WOW, YOU HAVE THE WORD NINJA BELOW YOUR NAME, HOW MOTHER -blam!-ING COOL, NOT, YOUR ARE NOTHING TO ME BUT A BRAINWASHED PIECE OF SHIT BLOGGER, PEOPLE ONLY LIKE YOU BECAUSE YOU HAVE NINJA BELOW YOUR NAME, SO PLEASE PUNCH YOURAELF IN THE FACE AND STAB YOUR EYE BECAUSE YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A PIECE OF SHIT OF SOCIETY
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Elai
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dracula can eat my whole ass!


 
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I DONT GIVE A SINGLE -blam!- MOTHER -blam!-ER ITS A MOTHER -blam!-ING FORUM, OH WOW, YOU HAVE THE WORD NINJA BELOW YOUR NAME, HOW MOTHER -blam!-ING COOL, NOT, YOUR ARE NOTHING TO ME BUT A BRAINWASHED PIECE OF SHIT BLOGGER, PEOPLE ONLY LIKE YOU BECAUSE YOU HAVE NINJA BELOW YOUR NAME, SO PLEASE PUNCH YOURAELF IN THE FACE AND STAB YOUR EYE BECAUSE YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A PIECE OF SHIT OF SOCIETY
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wow banjo hasnt aged a bit
I guess you could say he’s still in short order


 
Elai
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wow banjo hasnt aged a bit
I guess you could say he’s still in short order

i guess you could say he's still gay


 
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I DONT GIVE A SINGLE -blam!- MOTHER -blam!-ER ITS A MOTHER -blam!-ING FORUM, OH WOW, YOU HAVE THE WORD NINJA BELOW YOUR NAME, HOW MOTHER -blam!-ING COOL, NOT, YOUR ARE NOTHING TO ME BUT A BRAINWASHED PIECE OF SHIT BLOGGER, PEOPLE ONLY LIKE YOU BECAUSE YOU HAVE NINJA BELOW YOUR NAME, SO PLEASE PUNCH YOURAELF IN THE FACE AND STAB YOUR EYE BECAUSE YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A PIECE OF SHIT OF SOCIETY


 
Verbatim
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I went ahead and completed the rest of January, since I was already relatively close anyway, and I'll be taking a small break from listening to more music before I move on to February 95. I listened to a lot of shit, but I still haven't come close to hearing everything, and that kinda wears me the fuck out.

Also, because I recently decided that listening to over fifty Hank Jr. albums in a short period of time is a godawful idea, Hog Wild is off the table for the time being. Remember: I try to listen to an artist's entire discography before I get into any of their recent stuff, because I think that having all that context is very important. Yes, even if it makes certain older bands or musicians nearly impossible to get into. Not that I'm raring to become a Hank Williams Jr. fan, or anything. Kinda seems like a dick, and probably makes music for dicks. I'd much rather listen to Hank III.

That being said, though, I still might get around to it later, because I'm crazy like that. I already know it's not going to be worth it, but the sheer absurdity of this journey is part of why I find it so fun and appealing in the first place.

Anyway, here's the rest of January 95, and I'll have a nice 3x3 chart with all of the best albums at the very bottom, so you know which ones you need to listen to the most.





Laughing Hyenas - Hard Times
Punk blues
3rd album

This was the last record these guys ever made, and it's pretty all right. It didn't leave that much of an impression on me, though, so while I do remember enjoying myself somewhat as I was listening to it, I cannot for the life of me remember so much as a lick or even a song title off this song. In the end, I was underwhelmed.

I think, overall, I wound up enjoying their debut, You Can't Pray a Lie, just a little bit more, if only because I think the vocalist gave a much more immediate, intense, and ferocious performance on that one. Therefore, that's the one I'd recommend you check out first, if you happen to be in the market for some fiery-aggressive and explosive punk music—the kind where you can't help but start worrying about the singer's vocal chords and shit—and then see if you wouldn't mind something a bit more bluesy, which is the direction that Hard Times goes in.

6/10





The Human League - Octopus
Synth-pop
7th album

It's their seventh album.
There are nine songs on it.
The band had three members performing on it.

So why the fuck is it called Octopus?

Anyway, it's a cheesy pop album made by the guys who made that dumbass song, "Don't You Want Me." What do you want?

YouTube

That doesn't mean it's a bad record; it's just kinda hard for me to take them very seriously. I have a very low tolerance for '80s and '90s cheese, and these guys may as well be the poster children for that. Their legacy is helping to pioneer one of the cheesiest and most milquetoast genres in all of music before fading into relative obscurity shortly thereafter.

They did use analogue synthesizers on Octopus, at least, thanks to Ian Stanley (ex-Tears for Fears guy), which is pretty cool, and if you can get past how utterly dated it sounds (which is no small feat), you are able to recognize that it's a passable effort by The Human League. I don't love it, because it's still pretty vapid, but I do appreciate the human touch that an analogue synth gives an electronic record like this.

Unfortunately, however, they simply haven't produced a record that is good enough front-to-back for me to recommend as an alternative, even in passing. I think their debut, Reproduction, had a lot of interesting experimentation to it, and Dare has a couple of joints that stand alone just fine, but apart from that, they're wholly forgettable.

6/10





Van Halen - Balance
Hard rock
10th album

This is the fourth and last record of the Sammy Hagar-era, and probably my favorite one of that era, too. Like the Extreme album I talked about before, where they made an embarrassingly callous attempt to cop a grunge sound for their 1995 release, Balance too introduces a somewhat grungier aesthetic—but I actually think it rolled over rather decently here, because it's not super obvious. It doesn't sound like they're trying to cash in on a trend; they're just taking a popular sound that had resonated so heavily with a lot of people during that time, and they do it without compromising what makes them Van Halen. And I respect that.

Does that mean I loved the album, though?

Nahhhh, I was never really big on Van Halen's particular brand of rock music, and even if you do blend it with some slightly grungier elements, it just sounds impure to me. Not to mention, I've never really been into Hagar's vocals. DLR may not be as... "good" of a singer, in the traditional sense, but it was always more about his personality, which is something that Hagar always kinda lacked, in my opinion. He does show a bit more of an attitude on Balance, which is why I prefer it over his first three albums, but I still can't help but feel that way. There's a reason he's never been able to sing his own smash hit like "Jump" or "Panama" or any other Roth-era bangers you can name.

Either way, I'm just happy that I got to dodge the fucking Gary Cherone album. Jesus Christ.

6/10 (once again)





Too Short - Cocktails
Hip hop
9th album

This record fulfills just about every classic hip hop stereotype imaginable, so if you already dislike the sound of that, I will point you in the exact opposite direction of this album, because to put it lightly, this is a man who chooses not to rap about a wide variety of intelligent subjects.

As it turns out, Too Short is as OG as you can get. He's been rapping since the genre was created back in 1980, and he likes to bring that up a lot. His delivery is slow and a little basic, but he spits with the utmost clarity—which, depending on which of his three or four pet subjects he's rapping about (pimping, bitches/hoes, money, how good he is at rapping compared to you), can either be a good thing or a bad thing.

An unapologetic misogynist (at least in persona), he's known for his highly pornographic bars, which may seem tame by today's standards, but are no less completely disgusting and uncomfortable as fuck to listen to, unless hearing a juvenile story about how he once killed a bitch by cumming in her mouth too hard sounds remotely appealing to you. Dick this, cum that, bitch this, pimp that. It's the exact kind of hip hop that I actively avoid listening to, because I'm just not about that degenerate-ass shit.

Occasionally, every couple records, he'll have one track where he's actually rapping about something real and intelligent, or something I can actually get down with. These songs are a rare treat; none of them are present on Cocktails.

He may be an OG, and I can't ever take that away from him, but he's not dope. That may be sacrilege to oldheads, but I just can't fuck with a guy who only raps about two or three things over some relatively simple funk beats. It's corny to me.

5/10





Local H - Ham Fisted
Grunge
Debut album

Solid, but not outstanding. Standard fare for a new outfit's first outing, really. Scott Lucas's vocals are pretty great, although there are points where he kinda sounds like an angstier Dexter Holland (take that as you will). Nonetheless, there are definitely some cuts on here I can see myself revisiting.

7/10





Neal McCoy - You Gotta Love That!
Country
4th album

5/10





Free Kitten - Nice Ass
Alternative rock
Debut album

Alternative supergroup between Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon and Julia Cafritz of Pussy Galore, also featuring members from The Boredoms as well as Pavement. This is a pretty wild album, and I dug it quite a lot, but it's one of those weird records that's extremely difficult to recommend because of how esoteric and off-kilter its humor is.

If you know nothing about the alternative rock scene in the late 80s to early 90s, a lot of what makes this record appealing is going to go over your head, and it's just gonna sound like vacuous nonsense to you. Otherwise, it's a hoot.

7/10





Leftfield - Leftism
Progressive house
Debut album

I'm not particularly well-versed in house music, so I feel like I don't have a lot to say about this one beyond the fact that I quite enjoyed it. Every single track bumped hard, and somehow, there's even a Johnny Rotten feature. My only real issue I have is that I associate this kind of music with the same sort of mindless hedonism and self-indulgence that I associate with raves, which makes me feel as though I need to be tripping on MDMA in order to get the authentic experience. Which is unfortunate, because I don't do stupid shit like that.

7/10



That's the last one, it seems, so here's my 3x3 representing the top of the list so far:


This is in order of descending quality from top left to bottom right, meaning the Swans record is still definitely my favorite. The Roots and Smif 'N' Wessun are honestly tied right now; I'm not sure which of their two records I liked more. Leftfield could very well have the advantage over the Banshees, but I wanna give The Rapture a relisten before I can definitively determine that. Everything else seems to be in a good spot, I think.

I know I wasn't overly enthusiastic about the Human League record, which is why it's at the bottom right corner. I couldn't put anything else above it, so it just barely scraped the cut. Maybe the Laughing Hyenas deserves to be there, instead, but like I said—I don't even remember shit off it, so I might have to give that one a relisten.

February 95 happens to contain the debuts of both Blink-182 and Atari Teenage Riot, among other seemingly cool stuff, but I'll be looking forward to those two the most.
Last Edit: December 31, 2018, 05:42:11 AM by Verbatim


 
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The Pastels - Mobile Safari
Indie pop
3rd album

Independent Scottish band makes some music that I believe qualifies as jangle pop, or at least indie rock with jangle pop trappings, but it never left a huge impression on me either way. It's decent lax wallpaper music, I suppose, since it does create a nice vibe in the vein of something like shoegaze, without actually being shoegaze, if that makes sense.

6/10





Slowdive - Pygmalion
Dream pop
3rd album

Speaking of shoegaze, Slowdive is a pretty great band if you're into that genre, and are worth (pun warning) DIVING into if you've never DIVED into that style of music before. This album in particular is a slight departure from that style, however, and seems to be on some Kid A shit. And this album predates that one by five years.

This album is perfect for this time of year, too—if you ever needed some icy, chilled out music to go with waking up to twenty inches of snow from last night's blizzard, or you just wanna listen to the aural equivalent of taking a cold shower, then definitely give this one a spin. It's probably my main "pick" from this batch.

7/10





Simple Minds - Good News from the Next World
Pop rock
10th album

The only reason you probably know this band at all is because they did that one song from The Breakfast Club.

YouTube

Which is a good-ass song, but don't let it distract you from their other material, some of which is pretty solid as well. The albums Life in a Day, Real to Real Cacophony, New Gold Dream, and the second half of the double-LP Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call. So, just Sister Feelings Call. The first half is only all right.

Those would be my primary recommendations if you're into some good 'ol '80s-style energetic rock music with somewhat inventive riffs and a lot of charmingly dated rock tropes as well. But as for anything they made in the '90s, including Good News, I have some bad news: I find these albums quite boring and unadventurous. Not without merit or without a catchy tune here and a solid track there, but for the most part, I feel the same way about this album as I described earlier with The Pastels. It fades into the background and asks little of your attention as a listener to enjoy it. Plus, it's their tenth album. I like to think that bands tend to only have so much juice, and they were clearly out of it by the time this record was released.

Nonetheless, they went on to make ten more albums anyway. Christ. Sadly, being prolific doesn't always translate to being prolifically great.

6/10





Shania Twain - The Woman in Me
Country
Sophomore album

Country music is weird to critique, because it's one of the few genres that I'm inherently biased against. Since I don't enjoy the genre on its face, I can scarcely relate to what a country fan would consider "good" or "bad" country, so I find it difficult to know what to criticize while being 100% fair.

That said, I went into this Shania Twain trying to figure out what makes country music appealing—and I think I figured it out, somewhat. A lot of times, you're gonna have to put up with the instrumentation and the vocals. Those two things are part and parcel for the genre and can't really change all that much if you wanna maintain the country sound, so if you absolutely cannot get over the guitar tones or the baritone Southern twangy vocals, you'll probably never find a country artist you can get behind.

That aside, a big part of whether you'll enjoy a country artist is if, after listening to them, you feel like you "know" them in a way. If you dislike country, chances are you probably still like Johnny Cash. Why? It's not just because he's the GOAT; it's because you saw Walk the Line, or you had a grandfather who listened to him all the time, and you couldn't help but subconsciously memorize all the lyrics to Folsom Prison Blues, Ring of Fire, Jackson, A Boy Named Sue, or maybe even (if your grandpa was cool) 25 Minutes to Go and Hurt. His musical talent was commensurate with his amazing storytelling, and his songs all felt so real and intimate, even if the story being sung really was just a story and not an actual reflection of his real life (at least, not literally). Even if he wasn't singing a true story, you can tell that the story means a lot to him on a deeper emotional level. It also kinda helps that Cash's music infused country with rockabilly and a lot of other more digestible genres.

That in a nutshell is what I'm looking for when I listen to new country artists. Is it 100% fair to compare every country artist I try out to Johnny Cash? Fuck no, but I reckon it's better than an outright dismissal.

Anyway, Shania Twain's second album here is apparently considered one of the best ever, and admittedly, it did not bore me as much as the Wade Hayes or the Neal McCoy from January '95, but it's kind of difficult to say why. Does her music sound like it comes from the heart? Yeah, I suppose, perhaps more so than Hayes and McCoy. Does her music infuse other styles? Yeah, there's a little bit of rock and pop in there with the way she plays and sings. It's definitely not pure country. Do I feel like she sang nothing but "the truth" on this album? I guess. She seems like a nice enough lady, but maybe that's because she's Canadian. Did she help me accept, come to terms with, or cope with the way things are? Not really, and I never quite got the sense that she was trying to do that anyway. Which is... good, I think.

I don't know, man, I feel like I'm still trying to figure it out. All I can say with certainty is that I liked it more than the two other country albums I gave scores to in this thread, so I'm comfortable giving it a positive score. I feel like the more music I listen to in this genre, the easier it will become for me to articulate my thoughts. As of right now, I'm still working on it.

6/10





Stratovarius - Fourth Dimension
Power metal
4th album

And now for some Finnish power metal. I quite enjoyed this record. It's quite fun, but in order to fully appreciate it (along with any other power metal record, for that matter), you'll have to embrace copious amounts of cheese. Thankfully, it's not too hard to handle on this album, but there are several tracks on here that do sound very DragonForce-y, so take that as you will. Best not taken too seriously, and bear in mind that DragonForce wasn't around when this album came out, so in all likelihood, they were inspired by Stratovarius and not the other way around.

I love the chorus on this track in particular:

YouTube

7/10



Next up:

Lita Ford
The The
Slash's Snakepit
Belly
Nevermore

Noooooooot really excited about any of these, so hopefully I'll be surprised.
Last Edit: January 20, 2019, 02:13:12 PM by Verbatim