December 3, 2007

Best of 1993

I started this post weeks ago, and got most of the way through it, but then got busy with grading and coaching swimming, so it got delayed. I am now working my way through it and about to post the 1993 list.

1993 is the year I actually discovered good music, so unlike the previous years this time I actually bought some of these albums as they came out. Most of these bands I probably discovered in 1994 and 1995 though.

1. Mortal- Fathom
Two years in a row with a Mortal album at the top. While 'Lusis' is great, 'Fathom' is on another level for me. So much more diverse and epic. The album is incredibly long, over an hour, and the songs probably average six minutes in length. Overall it would be classified as industrial rock, but it is so much more than that. 'Rift' is one of the most unique songs I have ever heard, starting with a minimal percussive track and whispered vocals, but then there are short explosions of sound as it builds to a chaotic ending. I have a strange memory listening to the song 'Rift' leaving the "Beaver Dome" in Nashville after losing in the NBA FBC playoffs my senior year. 'Jil Sent Me' is a ballad with strings, yet still based on programmed drums. My favorite song on the album is 'Bright Wings', mainly due to the tribal percussion and lyrics.

2. Smashing Pumpkins- Siamese Dream**
I heard the radio singles first of course, 'Today' and 'Disarm'. I liked them, but didn't take the time to listen to the whole album until I was a freshman in college. The rest of the album blew me away, and it remains my favorite Smashing Pumpkins release. The walls of guitars are just awesome. Too bad "Zeitgest", the 2007 album, sounds nothing like this. Best song: "Mayonnaise" (Which is ironic considering mayonnaise is one of my least favorite things on earth.)

3. The Prayer Chain- Shawl
My brother Keith and I would always listen to the A-Zone Saturday nights from 10 to midnight in our bedroom before we fell asleep. Keith would often call in and talk to the DJs, Dr. Tony Shore and KC Jones. They had some contest and Keith called in and won "Shawl" on CD. It took them forever to get it to him though, and we ended up "borrowing" the cassette of Shawl from our friend Jay. The A-Zone played many songs from it, and we loved them all. 'Never Enough', '58' are both in my top 20 songs of all time, but '58' is the best song on the album. (Named for its unique 5/8 time signature.) (Member of TPC are working on a new Cush album, check that out here.)

4. Poor Old Lu- Mindsize
The first true album from my co-favorite band of all time. 'Sin' was the first Poor Old Lu album I bought, but I soon went back and ordered 'Mindsize'. (Back when you had to request the store to special order it for you.) Unlike their later albums, this album is structured around acoustic guitar, but that doesn't keep it from being rock. One of my favorite things about Poor Old Lu is that they are completely indescribable, it is impossible to compare their sound to any other artist. They came out of Seattle's grunge scene, but they are not grunge in anyway. Best song: "Cruciality"

5. Dakoda Motor Co.- Into the Son
This was my first favorite album. I heard DMC for the first time on Way-FM, but it was completely unlike most of the stuff I heard on there. Davia's vocals are great, and the music is very fun- surf rock. Dakoda Motor Co. was actually what led me to listen to the A-Zone, when they debuted DMC's second album. I still can't believe that in 2007 this band is active and recording a new album. Last summer (2006) I started a Dakoda Motor Co. fan Myspace page one month before they reunited and played their first show in 10 years. Crazy. Now that page is official and run by the band. They have played half a dozen shows in the last year, but all on the West Coast. Dakoda Motor Co. was actually the first real concert I ever went to, with Hoi Polloi and Johnny Q. Public opening. It was at Rocketown, when it was still in it's original location in Franklin. Davia had already left the band though, Melissa Brewer was singing lead. Now I actually might get the chance to see DMC play with Davia. Dakoda Motor Co. is actually one of only two bands on this list that are active. The other is the Smashing Pumpkins; but unlike the Smashing Pumpkins, DMC has all the original members. Dakoda Motor Co. is also the band that probably made me aware of how much I love female lead vocals. Best song: "Wind An' Sea"

6. Lost Dogs- Little Red Riding Hood
This is the first Lost Dogs album I heard, and the one I listen to the most. I don't have many memories about it, except that I love the first two songs. My favorite song on the album, "Imagine That", is one of the best examples of all four guys- Roe, Taylor, Daugherty, Eugune - singing in the same Lost Dogs song.

7. Steve Taylor- Squint
Steve Taylor was an extremely prolific musician, this his final musical release. I discovered him late, as this was my first exposure to him. There is so much about him I could write, and want to write a lot, as this will be the only mention of him in all of my lists.

Taylor is primarily a lyricist; he is very clever and has an amazing way with words. He wrote great songs for a decade, but musically much of his work left a lot to be desired. I probably heard it too late, and also it may have not been my style. ‘Squint’ though is a terrific rock album. “Bannerman” was probably the first song I heard from it, and is possibly my least favorite on the album. The next song I heard was “The Lament of Desmond R.G. Underwood Fredrick IV.” Yes, that is the name of the song, and yes, I did just remember the full name off the top of my head. The best song on the album, “The Finish Line”, gives me chills to this day if I really concentrate on the highly profound and spiritual lyrics. The first song I ever played on my radio show was “The Cash Cow”, a three-part rock opera that really had no business ever being played on the radio. But the first time I heard it, I promised myself I would play it live over the air if I ever had a chance, and I did.

Taylor has gone on to be a producer and filmmaker, producing most notably Sixpence’s self-titled album. He has only finished one full-length film, but has done tons of videos and shorts. He most recently contributed a song to the Veggie Tales movie, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything.

8. The Connells- Ring*
My freshman year in college I took a basic drawing class that was composed of mainly JRs and SRs. My main memory of the class is the crazy stories my teacher would tell while we would draw. The next thing I remember is that people would bring in CDs that the entire class would listen to (whenever the teacher wasn't telling his stories). I brought in Poor Old Lu-Sin one day and one of the older guys in the class commented on how much he liked the album. This was Mike, we later became good friends and worked together. Well, Mike brought in a lot of CDs of bands I had never heard, the one that stuck with me the most was the Connells. I remember specifically listening to "One Simple Word" in that class. "One Simple Word" is my favorite Connells album, and was my introduction to the band (it was released in 1990). "Ring" is probably the most well-known Connells album, featuring the song "'74-75", which was a huge radio hit in numerous countries (but not the US). It is much more poppy than their older work, and better produced. I was fortunate enough to see this band play 3 or 4 shows in their final years before their break-up. A couple of those shows were at the 5 Points Music Hall in Birmingham, and another was in Chattanooga. Best song: "Carry My Picture"

9. The Cranberries- Everybody Else is Doing it So Why Can't We?
Little known fact about the Cranberries- Dolores O'Riordan was not the original lead singer, and the lead singer was a male. Good thing he left the band! Everyone has heard the song 'Dreams' from the commercials it has been on, I think it was actually licensed to their home country of Ireland for travel promotion. The song "Linger" was the senior dance song at my prom. I hate dancing, but was thrilled when it was played at the Prom. Possibly the only song I liked all night long, but still a great night. Best song: "Dreams"

10. DigHayZoose- MagentaMantaLoveTree
Strange album name, strange album title. The album is 22 tracks and is almost too long to fit on a CD. Knowing how weird the band is, they probably intentionally filled the CD to the max. Hard to describe their sound, reminds me of Faith No More. Or maybe it just reminds me of the song "Epic" by Faith No More. This album is definitely epic. It samples tons of things, from Mr. Rogers to sci-fi movies, but it is not at all industrial. Of the 22 tracks, 12 are true songs, and average over 5 minutes in length. Stylistically all over the map. I don't listen to the album often, but when I do, I am always surprised by how good it is. I often get into discussions with music friends about cohesive, complete albums. This is one of the first ones that comes to mind for me. It works perfectly as a whole, it is hard to break apart. I did however play the song, "Dancing in Concert with the Infinite" on my radio show all the time. The lead singer, known only as "Phil", ended up being in another band, whose name I can never remember and sounded drastically different than DigHayZoose. This unknown band actually sounded like the next band on the list, but nowhere near as good. They had some songs on the original MP3.com in the late 90s. Back to "MagentaMantaLoveTree" it is impossible to single out a favorite song from it. Like I said before, you have to listen to all 70+ minutes in one setting.

11. Counting Crows- August in Everything After*
Did you realize that the Counting Crows have been an active band for 15 years yet have only released four studio albums? I find that to be crazy. Starflyer 59 has released three times that many LPs in the same time frame; the benefit of being an independent band. Of course I guess one could argue money is better than being able to release an album a year. This album is extremely depressing, but excellent. The first time I heard the album as a whole was my 18th birthday. The party was at the FBC Rec Center, and it was an "all-nighter". I remember trying to sleep, and kept waking up hearing music echoing through the gym. I didn't know it then, but it was "August and Everything After." At the time, because I was half asleep, I remember thinking it was Adam Again but knew that couldn't be right. Best song: "Omaha" (My friend Micah and I drove to Montana and back from Tennessee in a week in June 2000. We listened to a ridiculous amount of music on the trip, and we timed this Counting Crows album so that "Omaha" would be playing as we drove through the city in Nebraska. Yes I am a music dork.)

Other important albums from 1993:
Focused- Bow
Hoi Polloi- Spin Me
The Throes- Fall on Your World
Wish for Eden- Pet the Fish
Pearl Jam- Vs.*
Browbeat- Unplugged Alternative (Best compilation album ever? Mortal, Poor Old Lu, the Choir, Lost Dogs, the Throes, etc.)

(The only album on this list that I own on vinyl is the Smashing Pumpkins. The other two vinyl records I own from 1993 are both 7"s- the Prayer Chain- "Crawl "single, and Mortal- "Rift"/Poor Old Lu-"More" split on green & clear vinyl.)

Reactions: