Monday, May 25, 2009

Alternative nation

Talk about technology and falling down the rabbit hole... I saw a tweet about an early '90s band I hadn't thought about or heard in ages. Next thing I know I've blown a couple hours sifting through videos on YouTube and bios on Allmusic to find bands and songs I'd forgotten.

The funny thing about popular culture is that what is very of the moment or the next hot thing often ends up relegated to the cutout bin and unremembered within a few years. Of the songs I've managed to pry from the corners of my brain, only "Divine Thing" resembles anything resembling a Top 40 hit. "I Wanna Be Adored" is a modern rock classic, although I suspect The Stone Roses are better known for "She Bangs the Drums" because it's on Guitar Hero III.

Granted, I was trying to recall alternative rock singles from my high school days listening to 97X ("the future of rock & roll") out of Oxford and, more crucially, my college days as the campus radio station's music and program director and a viewer of MTV's 120 Minutes, the standard bearer for college rock, and Alternative Nation, the passable and more frequently aired imitation.

There's little rhyme or reason for why I've chosen to link to these songs. (I don't even own any of these songs, although I'm tempted to rectify that in some cases.) Mainly these are ones I could remember or was led to through the related videos column. Welcome to the sounds of 1989-1995 that have mostly gone by the wayside. (And because I know this is an extremely self-indulgent post, Meryn Cadell's "The Sweater" ought to be amusing to knitters.)

-The Charlatans UK "Can't Get Out of Bed"

The first of two British acts here that had to alter their names because U.S. artists claimed to own them. Thus, The Charlatans UK.

-The Connells "'74-'75"

-Dig "Believe"

Remember MTV's Buzz Bin? (I wish I had before I'd started writing this, although the Wikipedia page isn't complete by any means. This one's missing.)

-The Grays "Very Best Years"

Too poppy to get much radio play in the era of grunge. I'm kicking myself for not buying this album way back when because it is now out of print. At least it looks like used copies are affordable.

-Jellyfish "Baby's Coming Back"

This is the band who spurred this entry. I like the music, but I remember being put off by their image at the time. Let these fashion disasters be a warning to today's bands. (I'm more partial to "That is Why", but the clothes and hairstyles are quite as ridiculous in its video.)

-Material Issue "Valerie Loves Me"

-Satchel "Suffering"

I seem to recall this song getting a fair amount of airplay on the local alternative rock station, but to my knowledge it never really made a dent anywhere.

-The Soup Dragons "Divine Thing"

In 1992 this song peaked at #24 on the Billboard Top 40 Mainstream chart and reached #3 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. I'd also wager that this song has been mothballed for at least ten years, if not more. It's a great example of a once relatively popular song that you don't hear at all now.

-The Stone Roses "I Wanna Be Adored"

-Suede "Metal Mickey"

One of many "next" bands from England, Suede were pushed as the next Smiths. While they enjoyed popularity at home, it never translated to the U.S. The group even had to change its name to The London Suede here because of, as Allmusic puts it, "an obscure lounge singer".

-The Trash Can Sinatras "Hayfever"

-Velocity Girl "Sorry Again"

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At 1:46 PM, Blogger Donna B. said...

"97X ... baaammm ... the future of rock and roll." --Rainman.


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