Saturday, February 29, 2020

1994 - "Interstate Love Song" - Stone Temple Pilots

Like in the 80s, the middle part of the decade held the most memorable tracks for me.  1994 has been the toughest year to pick just one, with classics from the Counting Crows, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Alice in Chains all vying for the top track.

This is such a powerful yet chill tune. Starting with the epic intro that gives way to that now iconic guitar riff. Add in the soulful chorus delivered with equal parts desperation and devil-may-care vibe and voila, one of the most memorable post-grunge anthems and essential driving tune. 

"Interstate Love Song" reminds me of Billy Idol's road trip bender "Eyes Without a Face" released ten years earlier. Except now in my-20s, I wasn't looking up to cartoon heroes; these artists were from my generation.

Other favourites from 1994: 

"Something's Always Wrong" – Toad the Wet Sprocket

"Which Way Does the River Run" – Lennie Gallant

"Round Here" – Counting Crows

"Mr. Jones" – Counting Crows

"No Excuses" – Alice in Chains

"Sly" - Massive Attack 

"Dark Train" - Underworld

Thursday, February 27, 2020

1993 - "Regret" - New Order

It may lack the innovation of "Blue Monday", the groove of "Bizarre Love Triangle" or the lyrical depth of "True Faith", but "Regret" is arguably New Order's most complete song. 

Their best guitar-led track embodies the New Order sound: understated guitar, shimmering synths, Hooky's signature bass, lush arrangement and melancholic lyrics. A great vocal melody and surprisingly solid vocals from Bernard Sumner. 

"Regret" is also very personal. As the lead track of the Republic album which I bought in Ontario on way home from BC, I have fond memories of driving a rental to PEI en route to my Master's research, with two copies of this CD (what if one started to skip?!). The Habs were on their way to winning an unlikely cup thanks to 10 straight overtime wins. A spring of intense optimism. The Habs haven't won since.

Other favourites from 1993: 

"At the Hundredth Meridian" – Tragically Hip 

"Man On The Moon" – REM 

"World" – New Order 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

1992 - "Halcyon On and On" - Orbital

The top track for 1992, the year I moved to Vancouver, was ultimately going to be an electronic one. "Halcyon On and On" by Orbital is classified by the internet as dream trance. This mid-tempo club classic fits somewhere between techno rave and chill-out. You may vaguely recall it from the Hackers film.

A longtime favourite running track that I equally enjoy on headphones while writing. The mind blowing melody guarantees a shot of dopamine. 

Other favourites from 1992: 

"Something Good" - Utah Saints

"Ebeneezer Goode" - The Shamen

"Disappointed" – Electronic

"Baker Street" – Undercover

"Underwhelmed" – Sloan

"Sweet Harmony" - The Beloved

Sunday, February 23, 2020

1991 - "Soon" - My Bloody Valentine

REM's "Losing My Religion" would have been the top track back in the day. I also wore out the Nirvana album like everyone else. But years later I stumbled on this almost indescribable song. It's the sound of flying through cartoon cumulus clouds and the soundtrack to driving by scenic landscapes. While North America was embracing grunge, Britain created shoegaze.

A wall of reverb guitar and violin glide in and out creating dizzying layers of melody. An addictive dance beat sends it into an extra dimension. It doesn't matter that the lyrics are hard to follow without looking them up, the euphoric vocals jive perfectly with the music. A favourite song for zoning out on flights and runs.

Other favourites from 1991: 

"I Wanna Be Adored" – The Stone Roses 

"Losing My Religion" – REM 

"Get the Message" – Electronic 

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" – Nirvana

Friday, February 21, 2020

1990 - "Crazy" - Seal

Released in early 1990, I remember this tune sounding so futuristic.

Adapting 80s production and polishing it up a notch, it's hard to believe this track is 30 years old. Seal's strong vocals and existential musings add up to one spiritual groove.

I think "Crazy" could be released today and still sound fresh. I expected to hear more of this soulful synth vibe throughout the decade. I was wrong. 

Other favourites from 1990: 

"Been Caught Stealing" - Jane's Addiction

"Sadeness" - Enigma

"Fools Gold" - Stone Roses