Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Top 5 Favorite Bands/Artists Circa 1995

Here's a list that precludes any apologizing--the top five bands that you were into in 1995. In other words, imagine you are doing a Top 5 Bands/Artists list of all-time--as your 1995 self.

Ryan's Top Five

1. Smashing Pumpkins - Around this time, I was dead-convinced that 1979 was as good as a song could get, and I was in love with the video. For videos, see also "Tonight Tonight," which may be the greatest music video ever made. "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" really captured that angst I was feeling...and by "angst" I mean a predilection for playing rock music with cool lyrics very loudly. See also "Zero," which still is the one of the best songs to play when you're angry (thank you, Baker).

2. Green Day - Enamored with "Dookie," I acquired (my mom bought) "Insomniac" without hearing any of the music, which is a rare thing nowadays (thenadays?). I remember playing "Brain Stew/Jaded" quite loudly, on one occasion getting my grandma to remark, "This isn't music." For a 12-year-old, I felt pretty empowered with my righteous rebelliousness. Of course, I was overlooking the fact that I owned CDs by: Hootie and the Blowfish, the Rembrandts, and Sheryl fucking Crow. Anyway, I really loved Green Day at this point in my life, and they've successfully done everything to destroy that relationship since.

3. Offspring - Oh man, did I ever love "Smash." The song "Self Esteem" epitomizes my infatuation with playing rock loudly, and to this day I can't pass it on the radio without turning the volume up to 11 and singing along. I also bought their prior albums without hearing any of the music and, well, ... I can't recall a track.

4. Oasis - Ranking Oasis behind Offspring is painful even if this list has little to do with objective awesomeness. Anyway, the two big songs I was obsessed with from this album were "Wonderwall" (still great) and "Champagne Supernova" (I don't really need to hear it anymore). I was not that into "Don't Look Back in Anger," which for some reason I heard again in 2000 and fell in love with.

5. Weezer - Here's the thing: I loved the blue album, but I didn't really get into all of it until later in life. This was the first album I ever got, and I was still very much single-track-minded; when I found a single I liked, I honed in on it to an extreme fault. Thus, in 1995 I listened "Buddy Holly," "The Sweater Song," and "No One Else" way too much, and other (better) songs like "Only in Dreams" and "My Name is Jonas" not as much.

Honorable: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weird Al Yankovic, and it feels like I'm probably leaving some folk out... I think I've pretty much nailed this list though.

Dan's Top 5:

This is actually extremely hard, since I did not even get into popular music until 1999, and even then I was only into classic rock. It took a long time before I became a fan of more modern artists. That said, I'm going to turn back the clock a bit and list a few bands that were popular at the time, as well as some of my early favorites from my beginnings in '99.

1. Van Halen - Oh my god, have you heard Eddie Van Halen play the guitar? Van Halen will always hold a special place in my heart as the first rock band I really liked. For a hard rock band, they were really pretty original during the early David Lee Roth years. There were a lot of different swing and jazz influences when it came to song structure and style, and there was an undeniable sense of humor in their performances. As much as I've worn out their songs in my head, there's still a pretty good chance that I won't skip over them in my music library.

2. Pink Floyd - I remember when I first listened to The Wall. It actually really freaked me out, the way Trainspotting did. Beyond serving as my personal introduction to the concept of concept albums, Pink Floyd really became the first band I really took ownership of. i considered them visionaries, and I still love the band to this day.

3. Weezer - By 1995, only the Blue album had been released, so I have to factor in my would-be impression that Weezer would continue with such greatness. Apart from a few Pinkerton and Maladroit songs, however, this turned out to not be the case. Still, since I consider that album one of the finest of the 90's, I imagine it would have had a significant impact on my by this point.

4. Blur - I'm assuming I would have been able to find out about Parklife in '94, and subsequently hail it as the best thing to hit music since the decade started. I would have had to rely on the Internet, though, and I can't remember if I had access to it back then. Anyway, that album kicked ass and it sold me on Blur.

5. R.E.M. - I still don't know this band well, but I imagine that if I were into music in 1995, they would be one of my top 5. Man on the Moon is one of my favorite songs, albeit pretty much the only R.E.M. song I know apart from their biggest radio hits. I imagine that if I bothered to collect the rest of their albums, I could find something good on all of them, even though this is just intuition talking.

Honorable Mentions: Probably everything Ryan mentioned with exception of Offspring.

Tim's Top 5:
This is kind of difficult, because I really remember my taste in 7th grade (shudder) and I remember my taste once I was forced to fend for myself when I started college (whew). In between, not so much. Apparently, however, a couple of the answers are easy. Really, given that I had a brother four years older than me, the better title for my list would be "Things My Brother Was Into and I Followed Him Into"...

Frankly, I don't recall Oasis - What's The Story (Morning Glory) or Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness until 1996 (which is when I saw The Smashing Pumpkins at my first ever concert...but apparently both were released in 1995, or so ITunes tells me.

My list isn't really my idea of the top 5 bands of all time circa 1995, but they were the people I was listening to. Hell, I know The Beatles are better than The Dead Kennedys, but just ask me which I've listened to in the last few months.

1) R.E.M. - This was one of the few spillovers from junior high that hung around. I still think Monster is their second best album ever, and Automatic For the People was the highlight, so it's not hard to defend R.E.M. fanhood. They would then go on to release Up, and there was no reason to fear for the future. Then they released Reveal and there was no reason to forgive.

2) Matthew Sweet - Well, well, well, the truth comes out. It's not really a guilty pleasure because his work after In Reverse is a sheer house of horrors, and I can argue in favor of both 100% Fun and Girlfriend. But really it came just as much from a hyper-pop sensibility merged with my newfound arrival in Nebraska which really required you to support local artists...and it was either Matthew Sweet or 311 and Blue Moon Ghetto. Lord, be glad I chose Matthew Sweet.

3) John Lennon - The John Lennon Collection was the first album in my BMG investment of my freshman year and I listened to it relentlessly. I didn't get into the Beatles full-on until 1996, but I'm pretty sure this album was in the collection in 1995 and predated my full British invasion investment since the Who and The Sex Pistols would follow in ensuing months. The single greatest hits album was like a gateway drug to good taste, and all the albums I owned before it can't take that away.

4) Oasis - I was still hung up on Rock 'n' Roll Star from Definitely Maybe, and I got really hooked on a very emo-ish Don't Look Back In Anger somewhere around this time, and I definitely followed my brother hook, line, and sinker into Oasis. Oddly enough, though, I never bought the album. I still don't own it...and I own Heathen Chemistry and The Masterplan. I'm not entirely sure whether it was really 1995 that Oasis made it impossible to ignore them, but it was close enough to count them.

5) Gin Blossoms - I'd like to pretend I could put Guided by Voices or Pavement into this spot and get some indie street cred, but it'd be a total lie. I was four years away from getting any genuine interest in those bands, so it's got to be Gin Blossoms. At the time, I'd had maybe three sips of alcohol, but apparently I had optimistic views of potential future alcoholism and loved the relentlessly bleak pop sensibilities of New Miserable Experience. I liked Weezer's songs on the radio, but didn't buy the Blue album until a year or two later, Nirvana's Unplugged in New York didn't make it into the rotation of albums I'd get obsessed with until the last month of my freshman year, and I had just moved, so I was really finding my footing in Nebraska and didn't have time to develop good taste. At least that's my story.

Not-at-all Honorable mention: definitely Weird Al Yankovic, Foo Fighters, U2, yikes...Genesis, Inner Circle? I really liked fake reggae when I moved, but only reggae that clearly distanced themselves from any sort of drug use (my relentless hatred for frat boys was preordained)

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