More 90s Albums: Another Reaction To Treble's Best of the 90s List

Alright, so the other day I chimed in on the recent feature on Treble where they ranked the best (their collective favorite) albums of the 1990s, the decade in which a very high percentage of music blog readers came of age one would assume. I’ve already posted an addendum to their list with a bunch of the best Americana/folk rock/alt country/whatever that didn't make the cut. I’ve paid a lot of attention to their list for a couple of reasons. First, I’m kind of a list junkie and use them to explore albums I’m not familiar with and to maybe reevaluate some albums I haven‘t listened to in a while. Second, though I haven’t done so in a while I’ve written a few reviews for Treble in the past. So I guess in a weird way I feel some sort of kinship to them and their lists. This list is another addendum to theirs in a way - a few albums that would be on my favorite albums of the 90s list, if one were to exist. None of the following appeared on the Treble lists. Maybe a few of them should have:

Mercury Rev - Deserter’s Songs
1998 - V2

Of all the exclusions on Treble’s lists the lack of Deserter’s Songs and Uncle Tupelo are most glaring to me. The lush orchestral production of David Fridmann, who went on to helm The Flaming Lips’ classic The Soft Bulletin soon after, provides the foundation for a huge musical departure from the band’s earlier psyche-rock. Deserter’s Songs is a dark and druggy song cycle that bleeds earnesty without ever sounding sentimental. On any given day this is one of my favorite albums. Period.

MP3 :: Holes
(Buy Deserter’s Songs here)

The Lemonheads - It’s A Shame About Ray
1992 - Atlantic

Though Evan Dando’s emergence as the heartthrob of the alternative nation damaged his street cred, there’s no denying what It’s A Shame About Ray is - an endlessly melodic batch of folk-pop nuggets that was all over modern rock radio during the height of grunge.

MP3 :: It’s A Shame About Ray
(Buy It’s A Shame About Ray here)

Silver Jews - American Water
1998 - Drag City

Quite simply, American Water may be the lyrical highpoint of the decade. David Berman tosses off line after line of “did he just say that?” poetry that sits atop his band’s (which features Stephen Malkmus) meandering folk-rock. “Random Rules” is unforgettable - and just the tip of the iceberg.

MP3 :: Random Rules
(Buy American Water here)

American Music Club - Mercury
1993 - Reprise

I bought Mercury without ever hearing a note after reading a review. I know, that’s practically unheard of in 2008. In 1993 I did this with some degree of frequency, and Mercury was one of a few big payoffs. Though the eclectic music and brooding baritone of Mark Eitzel were a challenging first listen, in short order it became a favorite, and remains an album I go to often on long, lonely nights.

MP3 :: If I Had A Hammer
(Buy Mercury here)

The Black Crowes - The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion
1992 - Def American

Though Shake Your Money Maker made them stars, it was their sophomore album where the Crowes really impressed. This is a dirty slab of Southern fried blues-rock with a batch of songs that surpasses those of their debut. “Sometimes Salvation” in particular is the sound of a band reaching their potential and tearing it to shreds.

MP3 :: Sometimes Salvation
(Buy The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion here)

The Tragically Hip - Fully Completely
1993 - MCA

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include an album from the Hip on this list - they were my favorite band from about age 19 to 25. Fully Completely is their 4th album, and it’s a tense song cycle that brings to life singer Gordon Downie's take on Canadian myth. With a full on rock band blazing away behind him.

MP3 :: At The Hundredth Meridian
(Buy Fully Completely here)

Sinead O’Connor - I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
1990 - Chrysalis

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard an album as harrowingly personal as this. O’Connor lays her soul bare, and though “Nothing Compares 2 U” was the monster hit, songs like “Black Boys On Mopeds”, “Three Babies”, “The Last Day Of Our Acquaintance” and others are equally as powerful. O’Connor demonstrates a mastery over multiple styles, as the songs veer from a cappela and trip hop to folk rock to dream pop.

MP3 :: Black Boys On Mopeds
(Buy I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got here)

1 comment:

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