The awkwardly labeled "Generation X" (no thanks!) never had the numbers to kick the baby-boomers out of power, but it didn't help that many from the youthful ranks were still listening to the boring-est ends of "classic rock" and those with a clue had no interest in standing up and being counted and all that nonsense.
But with the success of Nirvana and the subsequent rush jobs of Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Hard Rock disguised as Alternative Rock was on its way to dominating the vernacular. But that didn't mean some cool stuff didn't sneak past the gatekeepers!
Today, The Breeders are out there touring Last Splash!
24) Smashing Pumpkins -- Siamese Dream: The CD age began in the 1980s, but it wasn't until the 1990s that you felt it sinking in. Guns N' Roses packed up two CDs for market and Smashing Pumpkins sent two CDs to be sold as one. The hours of listening required were cruel and unfair. I got into record reviewing for the big money and suddenly I was expected to listen to 160 minutes of music where I used to get away with faking it through 35-50. Who's whining now, Mr Corgan?
22) Pearl Jam -- Vs.: In hopes of making the music industry matter, the music industry put albums by highly-anticipated acts on sale at midnight on the day of their release. I remember heading down to the store just to see who would come out for this sort of thing. Imagine trying that now? It would be kids driving around the parking lot with their already downloaded copies playing out the car windows and the employees inside pretending they hadn't done the same thing. "Come on in and pay $18! It comes with blurry photographs! We have air conditioning!"
20) Cypress Hill -- Black Sunday: It likely helped the band that 'Citrus Hill' was the name of a popular orange juice at the time. (Is it still?) "Insane In the Brain" was one of those annoying tunes no one could get away from (I'm guessing some people liked it?) and songs like "I Wanna Get High," "Legalize It" and "Hits From a Bong" surely attracted the seventh grade-to-college crowd.
18) Tom Waits -- The Black Rider: Bone Machine had been such an artistic success that Waits decided to get another album out there before his audience grew up and forgot about him. Who was to say he'd have a lasting impact? There were still those who were wishing he'd go back to the piano and sing like a beatnik again.
16) Paul Westerberg -- 14 Songs: Golden rule: if you liked All Shook Down, you're not as crazy about this one. If you didn't care for All Shook Down, you like this one quite bit. In his prime, Westerberg had everyone agreeing with his every move. From here on, it's choosing your moments carefully. Did the Replacements ever do anything carefully?
14) Urge Overkill -- Saturation: So what if their best hook was snagged from "I Was Made For Loving You"? Kiss snagged their best hook as well with song doctor Desmond Child. For a brief moment, it looked as if these guys had hit potential. Then they covered Neil Diamond and had a hit and then went back to writing their own songs and were promptly forgotten.
12) Dinosaur Jr. -- Where You Been: As long as you turn the guitars up loud enough, the overtones and undertones and harmonics will bleed all over the place. Gosh, just imagine what Nirvana could've done with a sound like this. Someone get this 'J Mascis' guy on the phone and hurry!
10) Palace Brothers -- There is No One What Will Take Care of You: First time I heard the advance cassette, I thought it was about time someone made something that sounded like this. Then I got the CD and it felt like the wrong format and it appeared to be a put on. The interviews were insufferable, like early Bob Dylan with no wit. Half the time I liked the results anyhow, but then it got silly. He kept changing his name as if that was the only thing to keep people interested.
8) Tindersticks -- Tindersticks: I will never understand how bands with this many members stay together for very long. Where's the money when you're playing small clubs where half the people got in for free? Tindersticks are a beautiful thing and I'm glad I've seen them live and their records are proof that people do care about music out there. But who can afford to keep them alive?
7) The Breeders -- Last Splash
6) Nirvana -- In Utero: "Heart Shaped Box" sounded freaky and down the first time I heard it. Had Cobain and Co. not worried about their alternative credentials, In Utero coulda been a contender. Instead, it exposes a band in need of help. It's a period piece from a misguided era where dying before thirty was considered a career option. Oops.
4) The Fall -- The Infotainment Scan: An uptick in the band's production brought them new visibility? Well, no, but signing to Matador Records at a time when Matador was a label the kids listened to surely forced the kids to think about these guys for the first time since…well, they're kids, they probably weren't around for This Nation's Saving Grace, never mind Slates.
2) Vic Chesnutt -- Drunk: West of Rome was Vic's first stroke of consistent genius and Is The Actor Happy? would be his best move overall, but Drunk, tucked in-between, had all the charm of a bored sibling at a family function full of old people who wanted everyone to pay attention to him instead. Some astonishingly good pokes in the eye here and lots of unnecessary roughness that only a genius could make palatable there. I miss him.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Alternative Rock
- Paul Westerberg
- Smashing Pumpkins