Thursday, July 28, 2011
Heartbreak Beat Say: Top 5 Bands Of The '90s
Call us crazy, but we at Heartbreak Beat are of the general mindset that "the '90s" was a weird decade. It started cool enough with Nirvana unleashing the "sound heard 'round the world" via their landmark album, Nevermind, forever slaying the hair metal dragon, but then by 1994-1995 you had Hootie & The Blowfish, jam bands, and the beginning of a prolonged ska and swing music revival.
By the time the '90s came to an end, most, if not all of us were left with a bad taste in our mouths and a bewildered look on our faces, as if to say "What the HELL was THAT?!"
Having said that, the decade wasn't a complete and total waste. While it did take us some serious soul-searching (and head-scratching), we were able to come up with our Top 5 Favorite '90s Bands. Our criteria: In order for a band to be considered, they needed to originate in the '90s. That means that R.E.M., for example, would be excluded from the list because they originated and gained popularity in the '80s.
5. Foo Fighters
A pretty convincing argument can be made that Kurt Cobain died so that Dave Grohl could live. While Cobain's "suicide" had nothing to do with furthering Grohl's career, one must give Grohl accolades up the wazoo for turning some serious lemons into some serious lemonade. In truth, we dig Grohl a heckuva lot more as a personality than we actually dig his music. Sure, we dug the hell out of the first Foo Fighters album, but, after that, it became a little too "corporate rock" for us. The above clip shows the band making their "network TV debut" and is a reminder that they weren't always the overly-slick and Pro-Tooled edgy rock band they've been for the past decade or so.
4. Nada Surf
The crazy thing about Nada Surf being on this list is that we actually HATED them during the '90s. After buying their debut Elektra effort, High/Low, on the strength of seeing the words "Produced by Ric Ocasek" on the back of said album, we were totally let down by the Weezer-lite crap we heard once we played it. But then a strange thing happened: the band got dropped and turned into this really amazing indie rock band that released the AMAZING album Let Go in 2002, which was such a musical about-face that we still can't believe this is the same band that recorded that dreadful novelty hit "Popular".
3. School Of Fish
Wanna feel old? This past April marks the 20th anniversary of the release of School Of Fish's self-titled debut album, which featured the hit "3 Strange Days". If there is any one band we wish we could go see on the nostalgia circuit, iut would be these guys, but, sadly, singer Josh Clayton-Felt passed away in 2000, rendering any such future endeavors impossible. Guitarist Michael Ward has gone on to play with everyone from the Wallflowers to Ben Harper and John Hiatt, all the while ensuring he is able to bring his bicycle on the road with him.
2. Material Issue
My love for this band is well-documented on this blog, so I will not bore you with another long rant about how great these guys are, or how cool it was to have Mike & Ted play with me in the final Time Bomb Symphony line-up. I will say that they did the unthinkable by reforming this summer despite that fact that, much like School Of Fish, their singer passed away. Normally, that would stop a band in their tracks, and, granted, it did for twenty years, but Mike & Ted finally put the music first and blew the dust off of Jim Ellison's catalog opf great pop songs and played select shows in Chicago and Wisconsin, proving that great songs should always take top priority over whether it's cool or not to continue. Of course, it also helped that Hip-O Select released a 20th Anniversary deluxe version of their awesome debut effort, International Pop Overthrow in April.
1. Dandy Warhols
While I didn't really dig their debut all that much - it just felt a little too gimmicky - their second album, The Dandy Warhols Come Down, literally stopped me in my tracks the first time I heard it. Their hazy, psychedelic jams have a way of slowly drawing you in and then putting you in a headlock so that you are unable to escape their grasp. Granted, not everybody gets them - my best friend took one listen to this album and called them "gay ZZ Top", which still cracks me up, but I've still got a huge amount of love for that album, not to mention Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia. That love is enough to continue my love affair despite the fact that every album since seems to have stunk just a little more than the one before it. I'm hopeful they'll right the ship at some point.