Sunday, November 07, 2004

The 6th Annual Reynolds Top 20 List (1995)

Well, yet another year has gone by, but looking back on this one, there’s actual positive points to it. Yes, that’s right, no complaining. (For those newcomers, every year in this space I ramble on about crappy my life has been for that year.) This year had been pretty darn good. Examples: 1) I got laid, 2) I finally moved to New York, and have a really great apartment in Brooklyn, 3) I left radio for good, and didn’t miss it, 4) I ended up getting one decent job, and then an even better one (THANK YOU BRUCE), where I can use a laser printer to put this together and 5) I saw Goo Goo Dolls 5 times this year, become friends with them, and joined them in NYC in front of 1500 people to sing the end of “Never Take The Place Of You Man” (the Prince tune). All in all, a really good year. But musically, it was......
1995 - - THE BLAND TRANSITIONAL YEAR OF MUSIC I say transitional because no artist came along and kicked my butt. Yea, I know, Hootie kicked many frat boys and girls butts, but that just proves how lame this year was musically. In any case, this was the most difficult list to put together. Almost anyone of these could have ended up at number one on.....


(Note - Even though The Smithereens Best Of doesn’t qualify for this list, get it anyway. It’s on of the best best-of albums)
20) White Zombie - Astro Creep: 2000 etc, etc.
The stupid long title doesn’t detract from the fact it’s the loudest album on this list. Rob Zombie & crew have become more than one-dimensional riffmasters; one can almost tell what he’s singing. I blew out the speakers in our control room to “Electric Head Pt. 2” once. Ouch. Best Tunes: “Head Pt. 2” “More Human Than Human”
19) Pavement - Wowee Zowee
Not as easily accessible as ‘94’s Crooked Rain, but still, these guys make me yawn, which is the most emotion you can show if you’re going to be a slacker like them. If you’re broke, check out “Brinks Job,” and feel the riches of Pavement as they sort of sloth their way to you. Best Tunes: “Rattled By The Rush” “Brinks Job” “AT&T”
18) Neil Young - Mirror Ball
Longtime readers of this annual list know the place in my heart for Neil. That being said, this is his weakest album of the 90’s. Not that it’s bad, mind you. Weak Neil is still better than most stuff. But I would’ve liked it better if he and his (in)famous backing band had spent a little more time on the writing. Best Tunes: “I’m The Ocean” “Song X”
17) Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness
If this album came out in January, it might be higher on the list. It’s a bunch of music to get through (over 2 hours of all brand new material), but it’s worth the effort. Billy actually expands their sound, and it doesn’t have that studio polish we’ve come to expect. Best Tunes: “1979” “Tonight, Tonight” “Lily” “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”
16) Superchunk - Here’s Where the Strings Come In
No strings, except guitar strings, on this fine collection from North Carolina’s finest. Perhaps not as good as last year’s Foolish, but if you like all that punk rock all the kids are buzzing about, you can’t go wrong with this album. Best Tunes: “Hyper Enough” “Yea, It’s Beautiful Here Too”
15) The Presidents Of The United States Of America - The Presidents Of The United States Of America
Yup, it’s in my head. The sound of 2 string basitars and 3 string guitbasses is fun, fun, fun. Their quirkiness reminds me of the first time I heard They Might Be Giants. Best Tunes: “Back Porch” “Naked And Famous”
14) Green Day - Insomniac
How do you follow-up an album that 8 million people buy? If you’re these guys, do the same thing. Many so-called "critics" accused them of treading water, but hey, punk has always been the same, and hopefully it will never change. Still, it isn’t as good as Dookie, but it’s fine power pop. Best Tunes: “Armatage Shanks” “Brain Stew”
13) The Jayhawks - Tomorrow the Green Grass
It’s a shame this group broke up this November, because this was certainly their finest album. The Neil-via-Byrds harmonies-with-insightful-songwriting sound was my favorite album to wake up to this year. I hope whatever comes out of this musically carries on the tradition. Best Tunes: “Blue” “I’d Run Away” “Bad Time”
12) Rancid - ...And Out Come the Wolves
Oy! Enough with the Clash comparisons already. They kick out the jams live, they rightfully give props to ska, and they record hook-laden treasures that come in under 2 minutes. Well, okay, they do sound as if they were the kid brothers of Joe Strummer. It’s still good. Best Tunes: “Roots Radical” “Time Bomb” “She’s Automatic”
11) Matthew Sweet - 100% Fun
And fun indeed! Mr. Sweet has a much chipper attitude on this album, and we all end up happier as a result. Boy, the guy can sing breathtaking harmonies with himself. And he finally got a well deserved gold record for this album. Best Tunes: “Sick Of Myself” “Not When I Need It”
10) Buffalo Tom - Sleepy Eyed
I finally saw them live (twice actually), and they really have got the goods. This album rocks out more than their last one, but I still think they haven’t gotten the perfect mix of studio finish and their live ability. I hope their record company will give them that chance. Best Tunes: “Tangerine” “Sunday Night” “Summer”
9) Oasis - (What’s the Story?) Morning Glory
This is actually the second album of theirs’ I got into this year. Their record (released in late ’94) took a while to grab me, but this one only took a couple of listens. They wear their influences (Beatles, T Rex) on their sleeves, but I like it that way. A warning: they do suck live. Best Tunes: “Wonderwall” “Don’t Look Back In Anger”
8) Radiohead - The Bends
I really wasn’t into the whole “Creep” thing, but this album totally caught me off guard. It sounds great, production- wise and songwriting-wise. This is an album I think might catch on with its new single, “High And Dry.” It has become the year of England for me, I guess. Best Tunes: “Fake Plastic Trees” “Just” “My Iron Lung”
7) Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill
Alright, chuckle at me all you want, but I can ignore the fact it’s been shoved down our collective throats, and she used to be a Tiffany-wanna-be. The fact is these songs sound like a breath of fresh air to me when they appear on the radio. Hey, I’ve been to the movies more since this came out. Best Tunes: “Hand In My Pocket” “Live And Learn”
6) Wilco - A.M.
Uncle Tupelo died an early death last year, but at least we got 2 good bands out of it: Jay Farrar’s Son Volt, and this Jeff Tweedy album. He takes the country rock of Tupelo one notch higher with this album. I always get some sort of joy listening to this album. Best Tunes: “I Must Be High” “Box Full Of Letters”
5) Goo Goo Dolls - A Boy Named Goo
Not as good as their best album, Superstar Car Wash, but still high quality. I don’t think I need to go into the reasons why I like this album. Best Tunes: “Long Way Down” “Name”
4) Sonic Youth - Washing Machine
My favorite album they’ve done since Daydream Nation. After seeing them 3 times this year, I am really amazed at how great a band they are. One of the finest bands of our time. Best Tunes: “The Diamond Sea” “Unwind”
3) Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters
The best drummer around does everything on this album. Not too shabby. I’d say that he listened to Kurt very closely, but also kept his hardcore roots, and grew some pop branches. Best Tunes: “This Is A Call” “Big Me”
2) Soul Asylum - Let Your Dim Light Shine
So it’s not the snarl of “Sometime To Return,” but it is an excellent showcase of good songs and good playing of them. May they continue to shine. Best Tunes: “Hopes Up” “Nothin’ To Write Home About” “Just Like Anyone”
1) Elastica - Elastica
Power pop at its finest from England. If you don’t want to pogo after the first 3 songs go by in 6 minutes, you must require a severe ear cleaning. 16 songs in less than 40 minutes. Joy. Best Tunes: “Stutter” “Car Song” “Connection” “Line Up”

20) Edwyn Collins - “A Girl Like You” Bowie influence anyone?
19) Sleeper - “In Betweener” More good power pop from England.
18) White Zombie - “More Human Than Human” What is he saying?
17) Supergrass - “Alright” See number 19.
16) All - “Million Bucks” A love song at its fastest and finest.
15) Everclear - “Santa Monica” California never sounded this good.
14) Goo Goo Dolls - “Name” Yup, they got to be stars.
13) Superchunk - “Hyper Enough” Yes, it is.
12) Wilco - “Box Full Of Letters” This song is almost as good as getting mail.
11) Alanis Morissette - “Hand In My Pocket” And it’s probing my, umm well...
10) Radiohead - “Fake Plastic Trees” Angst never sounded so...soft.
9) Wax - “California” See number 15.
8) Matthew Sweet - “Sick Of Myself” But I’m not sick of this tune.
7) Foo Fighters - “This Is A Call” Come to think of it, fingernails are pretty.
6) Soul Asylum - “Misery”/”Hope” The A-side is good, but the Descendants cover on the B-Side kicks ass.
5) Babes In Toyland - “We Are Family” About time somebody covered this tune.
4) Rancid - “Roots Radical” Makes me want to ride the bus they sing about.
3) Elastica - “Stutter” Being impotent almost sounds appealing.
2) Oasis - “Live Forever” Hook, Hook, Hook, Hook.
1) Sonic Youth - “The Diamond Sea” Pretty and scary and noisy, all at the same time. 18 minutes on the album, a 5 minute edit and 26 minute version on the single. Wow.

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