The best of 1995 mix tape
1995 was around about the time that I was rousing out of my 3-year break from following new music, thanks to some excellent releases from the likes of Matthew Sweet, Luna, Foo Fighters, and the flood of Britpop that began to seep onto U.S. shores. A plucky little band named Radiohead also dropped an album called The Bends, a ridiculous, shoulda been hit-spewing machine with nary a throwaway track out of the 12 on the record. Oh, and they also opened for R.E.M. for part of the Monster tour and absolutely blew the headliners off the stage, which was no mean feat in those days, as the lads from Athens had finally come to grips with playing arenas and were sporting one of the best back catalogues going.
All this means is that my depth of knowledge of the year is deeper and more sure-footed than it has been in a few years, so it’s probably no surprise that my mix will continue to diverge fairly radically from some of the best-sellers of the day. Specifically, the closer music gets to “Nu-metal,” the farther away I will run. I take pride in finding the good in pretty much any genre out there, but everybody has their limits, and I readily acknowledge mine.
Sick of Myself – Matthew Sweet
This one is a first ballot member of the “Bust a Gut Singing in the Car Hall of Fame.” So much fun and such a great blast of power pop.
23 Minutes in Brussels – Luna
This song is close to perfect, and a pretty sure bet to make the best of the decade final mix. Luna are perhaps the most criminally underrated band of the decade this side of Teenage Fanclub.
Down By the Water – PJ Harvey
The role of Prince in the 80s and Bowie/Stevie Wonder in the 70s is played admirably by Polly Jean in the 90s. An incredible body of work during the decade and beyond.
Good – Better Than Ezra
Another track that I could try and act too cool to enjoy, but again that would be stupid because it’s a great song.
As We Go Up, We Go Down – Guided By Voices
Hipster cred restored in less than two minutes of lo-fi goodness. It’s like a juice cleanse after over-indulging in some treacly holiday goodies.
AT&T – Pavement
And now we land in the waiting arms of Mr. Malkmus’ angular guitar-flavored gumbo. It’s a warm, welcoming embrace indeed.
I’ll Stick Around – Foo Fighters
Raise your hand if you think that Mr. Grohl’s second major band was the better one (hand raised high in the air). Or, if nothing else, Foo Fighters seem like a lot more fun to be a member of at least.
Caught By The Fuzz – Supergrass
Speaking of bands that seemed like they were having more fun than most of their contemporaries, I give you Supergrass. Few songs make being chased by the police seem like such a grand idea.
Sparky’s Dream – Teenage Fanclub
I’ve still yet to work out why Teenage Fanclub is not one of the biggest bands in the world. 1994’s Bandwagonesque should be enough for RnR HOF status on it’s own.
Peaches – Presidents of the United States of America
Come on, you know you like this song. Don’t try and deny it. Let’s all go move to the country and eat a lot of peaches, shall we? They were put there in a can by a man, after all. It’s as if they got blackout drunk while reading Dr. Seuss and woke up the next morning with this song recorded.
Sunday Morning – No Doubt
No Doubt is one of the largest intersections between this mix and the Billboard charts, even if this album really didn’t take off until 1996.
Drown – Son Volt
After Uncle Tupelo broke up, two bands were spawned (Son Volt and Wilco). For a short while it sure seemed like Son Volt was the horse to bet on in that race.
Disco 2000 – Pulp
More than a few excellent tunes on this album, Different Class, but Disco 2000 stands out to me, even if (or maybe because?) it weirdly recalls Gloria by Laura Branigan. The Britpop wars get a welcome injection of intellectualism.
Cumbersome – Seven Mary Three
Mark this one down as the song I like the most from the year that I had completely forgotten about. It’s a good ‘un.
Don’t Look Back in Anger – Oasis
Definitive proof that Noel was the most important and coolest Gallagher, the borderline insane John to Liam’s laddish version of Paul (if he wanted desperately to be John), if you’re into thinly drawn Beatles metaphors.
1995, you were a good one. Thanks for pulling me back into discovering new music, just in time for the rise of something called the .mp3 and the Internets, and to stop me from doing something stupid like selling off all my old vinyl. Here’s the Spotify playlist for your subscribing/listening/dissecting pleasure.
Which one of your favorites did I leave out?