The best of 1997 mix tape
1997 was a pretty pivotal year in music for me. As I said before, I kind of abandoned “new” music for a while after graduating college in 1992, and was only slowly getting back into things thanks largely to a flood of Britpop and a few other artists like PJ Harvey, Pavement, and Matthew Sweet. What really got me back and completely excited about music again was the sonic atom bomb that was OK Computer. It’s a truly amazing record, one that still sounds fresh and different on every listen even to this day, and it always seems like I come away from it having heard something new. In fact, I would argue that the pinnacle of music in the 1990s is the 3:40 mark of Let Down, when the build up of swirl and confusion signified by all of those guitars playing different time signatures and the cacophony of beeps and boops finally explodes in a cathartic release of vocal harmonies. It makes the hair on my arms stand on end to this day every time I hear it, and it’s not even my favorite overall song on the record )and hence didn’t make the mix). It’s worth listening to right here though.
Amazing. 1997 also boasts some of my favorite songs of the decade, so expect to this see this year well represented on the cumulative best of mix. It also presented me with one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make, as I had to find a place on the mix tape for Tubthumping. Scoff if you must but that song is freaking irresistible and undeniably catchy. So my sincere apologies to Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters for giving you the boot in favor of Chumbawamba. I know, I don’t really understand it either, but that’s how things shook out.
Lazy Line Painter Jane – Belle and Sebastian
This is hands down one of my favorite songs ever, not just of the year or the decade. I love everything about it. Even though it wasn’t released on an album until 2005’s Push Barman to Open Old Wounds, I included it here since it was initially released as a single during the year.
Convenient Parking – Modest Mouse
Another pretty amazing record from MM, and we they hadn’t even come close to their best yet, so expect to see them more in the future.
Block Rockin’ Beats – The Chemical Brothers
If nothing else, never let it be said that The Chemical Brothers engaged in false advertising, as this song deliveries everything the title says. Drum and bass and beats.
Tonight We Mean It – The Dismemberment Plan
A great song from one of the best-titled albums ever (The Dismemberment Plan is Terrified).
Stereo – Pavement
Another year, another epic Pavement record. Mr. Malkmus spoiled us a bit during the 90s, didn’t he?
On & On – Erykah Badu
It seems like this record has been forgotten a bit too quickly, which is a shame because it is absolutely great.
Little Babies – Sleater-Kinney
I still have a difficult time reconciling Carrie Brownstein, Portlandia star, with Carrie Brownstein, awesome rock goddess, but that’s ok, I’ll get over it. Both are great and both deserve a spot in your pop culture lives.
Sugarcubes – Yo La Tengo
Put Yo La Tengo right up there with bands who should have been completely huge if only this world was a better, more enlightened place, instead of a place where Hootie & the Blowfish and Nickelback and Creed sell millions of records.
Tupthumping – Chumbawamba
I’m completely, totally at peace with my fondness for this song, and nothing you can say can shake my confidence in this decision. Nothing at all. If you don’t believe, watch this.
Ain’t That Enough – Teengage Fanclub
Seriously, why wasn’t Teenage Fanclub the biggest band of the 90s. WHY?
All Mine – Portishead
Portishead hasn’t put out that many records, but just about all of them are amazing. One of the ultimate examples of quality over quantity.
Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth – The Dandy Warhols
I really like this song, and had forgotten all about it until I started this mix, which is one of the reasons I like doing this so much. Rediscovery is almost as fun as straight up discovery. And heroin IS so passé, kids.
Watery Hands – Superchunk
Is this the first time Superchunk has made a best of mix? Maybe, I really can’t remember and am too lazy to go back and look. If so, shame on me, even if the opening to this song borders perilously close to be a Rush homage.
Summer (Priority Version) – Mogwai
Mogwai is right up there with Massive Attack in the pantheon of best artists to listen to when you are falling asleep and hovering at the edge of consciousness. Atmosphere overload.
Bowling Green – Neko Case and Her Boyfriends
Ah, the lovely and talented Neko Case is finally on the scene. I’m a happy kid.
Lucky – Radiohead
This song is basically flawless, much like the album that it comes from.
See how great 1997 was? You probably forgot that, didn’t you? You are quite welcome. Here’s the Spotify playlist so you can sing along with Tubthumping in the car in repeat, like you know you will.
Which one of your favorites did I leave out? And how much does my love for Tupthumping damage my music snob cred?