Music Consumption in the MP3 Era
Music Consumption in the MP3 Era

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Name: uao
Location: California

uao is also a contributor to Blogcritics.org, Rhapsody Radish. and FIQL.com.

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Feel free to dig through the Deep Freeze for more, but stuff dated before mid-March 2005 is still formative and impressionistic, and not really worth the effort.

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I grew up reading Robert Christgau, Village Voice, and Lester Bangs, Creem, Punk, various others.

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Note: the copyrighted audio material on this site is for listening only, and is not downloadable. It is provided as illustrations to the articles, and to interest people in the legal purchase of these artists' material. Any copyright holder who would like their material removed should contact me, and I'll remove it.

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Thursday, January 27, 2005
 

Better Days

I promised I'd get my head out of my butt, I mean, the 1970's, and get 'contemporary' with this installment, or close to it.

Let's do "close to it" first, and then we'll get closer.

I'll do away with any long-winded preamble today and get to the point.

Let's re-examine the 1990's.

By 1990's, I'm referring to that time roughly between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of detritus clouds on 9/11. Give or take a year.

Musically, this would put us between the rise of Grunge, unexpectedly, from a rock 'n' roll legacy long prior presumed dead.

It ends at a time when rock 'n' roll was once again presumed dead, as Britney and the Back Streets straddled the world like punks; real punks, not smart ones like John Lydon.

Who made music in the 90's? And what will we learn from them in the 00's, which I like to pronounce "Oh!s"

Let's get that Media Center jukin'. No filters; random play from all titles dated 1991-2000, any genre.

These tracks were the first ten on a randomly generated auto-playlist:

1. Liz Phair: 6"1' ****
Liz Phair: Exile In Guyville (1979)
I'd have a tough time picking between Liz Phair or vintage Courtney Love for most convincing, street credible woman alt-rocker of the 90's. Exile in Guyville was written (or hyped) as a song-for-song reply to Exile on Main Street, an audacious conceit that makes sense only when you really give Phair a fair listen.

2. Spiritualized: Broken Heart ***
Spiritualized: Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space

This is a case of a lesser track from a band I've become keen on lately. Spiritualized, borne of the ashes of Spacemen 3, are among the architects of the dark, feedbacky, feverdreamy sound we now know as Space-rock. This cut is a little fey in the vocals, a little less than inspiring in the textures; this is a band you're supposed to get high to, and it's usually worth it. Broken Heart is just OK like dirtweed is just OK.

3. k.d. lang: Constant Craving ***
k.d. lang: Ingenue (1992)
This suffers from a vaguely pop-arty but-still-aimin'-for-clean-clear-and-easy production, that doesn't mesh well with lang's natural country voice. Ultimately, it sounds like a poppy Cowboy Junkies. lang always sounds better in simpler context.

4. Collective Soul: Crowded Head ***
Collective Soul: Disciplined Breakdown (1997)
I like Collective Soul a lot better than this album cut, even though it's not always cool to admit it. Collective Soul is AOR in the classic good sense; why they're not played on classic rock radio is a mystery to me. Heavy on the guitar riffs and texture, this track is as representative of their sound as any, except the hooks aren't as good as on their hits. Even minus these, the production is full of mini guitar hooks, which was always this band's greatest strength.

5. Catherine Wheel: Waydown ****

Catherine Wheel: happy days (1995)
Catherine Wheel's decadelong transmogrification from the twee feedbackwash of "Black Metallic" though their art-alt-metal of Wishville is one of the more compelling sonic stories in rock history. Waydown, coming smack in the middle, was a little of both, and charted #24 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in America (#15 on the Modern Rock charts; I've never heard of these charts until today.)

6. Prince: The Most Beautiful Girl In The World **
Prince: Gold Experience
Prince was going through his whole name-change/fight with Warners at this time, and the song (a hit) was one of his more forgettable ones. Kind of an updated Stylistics, with some synth and synthesised sitar-like backing that was already on the verge of sounding outdated at the time.

7. Big Star: Back Of A Car (live) *****
Big Star: Columbia: Live at Missouri University (1993)
From the LP, Columbia: Live at Missouri University This is a bit of rock 'n' roll affirmation; a reunion of the surviving members of Big Star augmented by the Posies, and crunching out one fine reunion concert at the request of a diehard fan, a show that remains their one and only reunion. Back Of A Car is my favorite cut from the set, Alex Chilton sounding every bit as young, vital, and confused as the same one who sang this tune on the original, barely heard album twenty years prior. Gaddamn, the sloppiness of the guitars here couldn't sound any better, either.

8. Dave Matthews Band: The Best Of What's Still Around ***
Dave Matthews Band: Under The Table And Dreaming (1994)
Minor singalong-ey album cut from their debut. I admire Dave Matthews to a degree; I'm a fan of jam rock, I'm a fan of idiosyncratic vocals, I'm a fan of lumpen, unfunky hippie rhythms, often, if not usually. But something about him always struck me as simple-minded, and I still can't shake that feeling. My hang-up, I'm sure, and I do like his big hits. But this tune played 2 minutes ago, and already I recall nothing about it. Good stuff, I usually remember.

9. Mazzy Star: Sweet Mary Silence ****
Mazzy star: So Tonight That I Might See (1993)
A dear favorite band. Mazzy Star's Velvet Underground-esque bad-trip atmospheric guitars, played to full effect by David Roback (ex-Rain Parade, Opal) and the eerily detached femme fatale Hope Sandoval gets me off every time. This is from their best disk, So Tonight That I Might See, and it's dark and detached in all those right places.

10. Primus: Jerry Was A Racecar Driver *****
Primus: Sailing The seas of Cheese (1991)
Primus reminds me of Pere Ubu, the industrial/punk/avant-garde/art-rock 70's band. Primus is in a world of its own, with plucked and slapped bass, funk-metal rhythms, bizarre guitar arpeggios, and offbeat lyrics. One of the best undersung alt-rock bands of the 90's, this'll get you stomping around the house like a monster.

The funny thing about the 1990's was that it was a much more vibrant and varied time for rock music and pop music than is usually acknowledged. A much better decade musically than the 80's, which really was a shell shocked transitional period, one we'll address soon at Freeway Jam.
 
Comments:
Ooooo... Mazzy Star changed my life.
 
I suggest Placebo, "Without You I'm Nothing"

I have to confess something. I don't know much about the Kinks. Today I heard them on the radio and thought - Holy shit, thay're amazing! One of these days I'm going to buy every Kinks record and obsess on every one, one by one.
 
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