Thursday, June 19, 2008

Albums of the Year by Decade: Part Four (1996 & 1997)

1996: It was an off year for music, but C’Mon Grammys… CELINE!?!
Grammy Winner: Falling Into You- Celine Dion
Grammy Deserver: Nobody, but I’ll pick Fashion Nugget- Cake

If all recording devices were declared spontaneously inert, if music as we know it was replaced by the sound of machine shop tools cutting across blackboards with a retched pop squeal reminiscent of the screaming demons of hell’s deepest circle, if the earth itself was hurtling toward the sun and only French-Canadian power ballads could put us back on course, I still would not abide by the selection of Celine Dion. Do I over dramatize? Occasionally, but not this time… Really, I don’t. You’ll just have to trust me on that point.

Yeah... I'm still not cool with Celine...

This was a tough year for music, and honestly, my two favorite albums of the year were by artists I’ve already picked in prior posts, and I didn’t want to bore the huddled masses by returning to the Tori or Counting Crows wells… If you do find yourself looking for some good 90’s transitional tunes, showing the direction music was going in 1996 as opposed to where it had come from, and DON’T want to listen to Celine of course, give Tori’s Boys For Pele, or CC’s Recovering The Satellites a listen. Instead, I kind of pulled a ‘Grammys’ and went with an album that while the best single effort, is really deserving of the honor because of the band’s cumulative works.

Cake, like the previously honored Belly, is a band that I call attention to not because of their influence on music, or even their influence on the year in question, but because they are bands more people should be aware of. I’m doing what I can so the six or seven people who see this, most of which already own this album, can say ‘Hell Yes!’ and very little will actually change. Alas, if you’re not tilting at windmills, what else is there to tilt at?

If you enjoyed the alt radio hit The Distance, and their monotone cover of Gloria Gaynor’s disco anthem I Will Survive, both of them are here, and you will also likely enjoy the other tunes on the album with their acerbic wit and straight faced delivery. Cake is definitely a band for the thinking listener, which is likely why their success has never eclipsed the level of ‘mild to moderate’ the general public tends to like their music more syrupy sweet and French-Canadian… More Celine-like if you will… If you’re more like me, and less like most people, enjoy some Cake!

Other releases of note, though not many:
Boys for Pele- Tori Amos; Gravity Kills- Gravity Kills; Born on a Pirate Ship- Bare Naked Ladies; Call The Doctor- Sleater-Kinney; Tiny Music… Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop- Stone Temple Pilots; Milk and Kisses- Cocteau Twins; Crash- Dave Matthews Band; Bringing Down The Horse- The Wallflowers; Odelay- Beck; High/Low- Nada Surf; Rocket- Primitive Radio Gods; Wax Ecstatic- Sponge; Tidal- Fiona Apple; Sublime- Sublime; Better Living Through Chemistry- Fatboy Slim; Pinkerton- Weezer; Antichrist Superstar- Marilyn Manson; Recovering The Satellites- Counting Crows; Fever In Fever Out- Luscious Jackson

1997: Music is back! So are old people!
Grammy Winner: Time Out Of Mind- Bob Dylan
Grammy Deserver: It Means Everything- Save Ferris

Time Out Of Mind isn’t a horrible choice, and practically a given considering the Grammy track record. I bet Fleetwood Mac was pretty pissed that Dylan stole all their ‘over the hill’ cred though… Long and short of it, if I’m not going to side with them on Alanis, I’m not going to give them a pass on Bob Dylan either. This was full on a ‘Lifetime’ pick, and there were more richly deserving artists out there.

I could have given Green Day the pop they deserved for Dookie by calling it for Nimrod, but their best was still yet to come, and besides, if I did that, someone might agree with me… So, keeping with the tradition of picking fringe-artists and waving my own flag of musical taste, I went with Save Ferris, a punk-ska-pop-chick hybrid in the same vein as No Doubt, who, in my opinion, burned hotter, though shorter than their more famous counterpart.

It Means Everything is really only about 1 thing, and that’s having a good time. Everything about this album is fun. It’s not insightful, it’s not artistic, it’s not revolutionary, and there’s not thing one wrong with that, so long as you’re aware that you’re producing fun, not philosophy. Save Ferris gave us a nod and a wink that they knew just what they were doing by dedicating an entire track to Spam… And they’re not even Hawaiian! This is a crazy, wacky, good-time ride and is a perfect choice for a Saturday night out with the friends car recording. Surprisingly, those are harder to find then you might think lest you make the mix yourself, so for that alone I think Save Ferris’ It Means Everything deserves some credit. Unfortunately they never produced anything near this level again, and disbanded after just one more studio album… I guess it beats hanging on for 40 years like Bob Dylan… then all you’ll have to show for your effort is… well… a Grammy…

Other releases of note:
Earthling- David Bowie; Ixnay on the Hombre- Offspring; Secret Samadhi- Live; Marcy Playground- Marcy Playground; Pop- U2; Let’s Face It- The Mighty Mighty Bosstones; Elegantly Wasted- INXS; Dig Your Own Hole- The Chemical Brothers; Dig Me Out- Sleater-Kinney; Ultra- Depeche Mode; Cowboy- Erasure; Terror & Magnificence- John Harle & Elvis Costello; The Colour and Shape- Foo Fighters; OK Computer- Radiohead; Dude Ranch- Blink 182; Love Among the Ruins- 10,000 Maniacs; Zoot Suit Riot- Cherry Poppin’ Daddies; The Fat of the Land- Prodigy; Fush Yu Mang- Smashmouth; Surfacing- Sarah McLachlan; The Dance- Fleetwood Mac; Love Scenes- Diana Krall; Calling All Stations- Genesis; Vegas- The Crystal Method; It Means Everything- Save Ferris; Portishead- Portishead; Nimrod- Green Day; FLAvour of the Week- Front Line Assembly

Ah, cheer up... You're a lock for the 2045 Grammys...

Just one more post left and I can call it a decade. Not that I’m not enjoying this, but I’m just about ready to wax nostalgic in a different direction… See you at the Friday Finale!


bethieslug said...

Modified by Save Ferris (1999) was a good album, too. If Monique hadn't decided to leave the band for greater and better things (that never came about) I think the band would still be around. Their music had staying power -- it was the personalities behind the music that killed it.

Anonymous said...

Modified had a few good tracks, but I just couldn't get into it the wat I did It Means Everything, but the same was true of No Doubt's 2nd Gwened-out album. Return to Saturn. If Save Ferris would have hung around to make a 3rd or 4th record, they could have equalled or bettered their first ry... Hell, maybe Monique could have parlayed it into a solo career, singing pop songs inspired by The Sound of Music... :)