Top 25 R.E.M. Songs

Out of the band’s enormous discography these are the 25 songs that hit the hardest.

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A countdown of the Twenty-Five best songs by pioneering alternative rock band R.E.M.

By Carter Bagley

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I figured to conclude any artist series I should make a list of what I think are that artist’s best songs. So after rummaging through R.E.M. fifteen studio albums and numerous singles and compilations I crafted this list of R.E.M.’s twenty-five best songs.

25. “7 Chinese Brothers” (Reckoning, 1984)

One of the many oddly titled but undeniably charming R.E.M. songs and one that completely defines the sound of R.E.M.’s classic sophomore effort “Reckoning”. It may not be a defining song for the band but it’s definitely a fantastic one.

24. “At My Most Beautiful” (Up, 1998)

A truly beautiful ballad from the band that pairs beautifully with other songs of theirs like “Nightswimming” but this one is tragically unrecognized. It’s really an amazing song and is the best song off their 1998 album “Up”.

23. “Bittersweet Me” (New Adventures In Hi-Fi, 1996)

Probably the most famous song from R.E.M.’s underrated 1996 sprawling double LP “New Adventures in Hi-Fi”. With a rocking chorus, slow breathy verses, and gritty lyrics this song is definitely good enough to be on this list.

22. “Driver 8” (Fables Of The Reconstruction, 1985)

“Fables Of The Reconstruction” is no doubt the most forgotten out of R.E.M.’s 80’s catalog, but the record has some truly great songs on it including this short yet deep and poignant track that’s catchy and memorable and defines this era of R.E.M. perfectly.

21. “Superman” (Life’s Rich Pageant, 1986)

Just a year after “Fables..” came “Life’s Rich Pageant” which is a stark contrast probably because “Fables” didn’t perform as well as they wanted. “Superman” one of the singles and closer of the album sounds like 60’s rock and that marks a new sound for the band and one that makes for a near perfect pop song.

20. “Supernatural Superserious” (Accelerate, 2008)

A late R.E.M. track that’s just as good if not better than many of their earlier songs. Off of 2008’s “Accelerate”, this single doesn’t sound at all like an aging band (which they definitely were) but instead like a young energetic band that still had a lot to say.

19. “Shaking Through” (Murmur, 1983)

A forgotten and unrecognized song of their debut album is one of my favorites because of it’s airtight instrumentation and Stipe’s on point vocals. It’s truly a great R.E.M. song and one that has gone and will continue to go severely underrated.

18. “Gardening At Night” (Chronic Town EP, 1982)

One of the band’s earliest songs yet still loved amongst fans and one of their most critically beloved. This is a very bizarre track with nonsense lyrics and jangly guitar that totally encapsulates the sound of early-80’s R.E.M.

17. “Orange Crush” (Green, 1988)

One of their first big singles that has gone on to become an alternative rock classic this is on their first studio album and might be one of their last early era sounding songs they ever recorded. Nonetheless it’s extremely catchy and incredibly charming.

16. “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” (Monster, 1994)

A true rocker that opens up R.E.M.’s 1994 “big dumb rock album” titled “Monster” and this is undoubtedly the highlight of that record. It was a new sound for R.E.M. and one they never really quite had again and as a single it’s definitely a standout of their 90’s catalog.

15. “New Test Leper” (New Adventures In Hi-Fi, 1996)

Not even released as a single, this is one of those deep cuts that only real R.E.M. fans will recognize. In my opinion it’s one of the best they ever wrote as the lyrics are deeply poetic and Michael Stipe’s vocals are beautiful. This is a song that you will fall in love with and if there’s only one reason to check out “New Adventures…” then this is it.

14. “Find The River” (Automatic For The People, 1992)

The closer to quite possibly the band’s finest album that really doesn’t sound like them at all. “Find The River” sounds a little like John Denver with an alternative twist to it and the R.E.M. penned lyrics are beautiful and much better than the stuff Denver writes. It’s pure and lovely and something you need to check out.

13. “These Days” (Life’s Rich Pageant, 1986)

A short and fast 80’s rocker from another standout R.E.M. record in “Life’s Rich Pageant”. It’s catchy and fun and a song that makes “Life’s Rich Pageant” the damn near perfect album that it is. The oddball lyrics but strong delivery is pure 80’s R.E.M. and it’s brilliant.

12. “Country Feedback” (Out of Time, 1991)

One of the many highlights of R.E.M.’s best-selling seminal album “Out Of Time”. Maybe not the most consistent album they’ve made but one that’s full of poetic and beautiful songs like this that make it understandable that the record got the classic status it has.

11. “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville” (Reckoning, 1984)

A song that sounds completely different than the rest of the album it’s at the tail-end of, yet it’s still undoubtedly a standout on “Reckoning”, their 80’s catalog, and their entire discography altogether. Having a very southern country rock sound but with the charm of typical R.E.M. and using jangle-pop vibes that make it an R.E.M. staple.

10. “The One I Love” (Document, 1987)

A fantastic hit single that can and has been interpreted in many different ways. Most people see it as a simple love song but it’s nearly the exact opposite and is layered which you can tell when Stipe wails “Fire!” after the chorus. This is one of the songs that grew the band’s fame and secured them a record deal for their next album, and it’s easy to see why.

9. “World Leader Pretend” (Green, 1988)

Hands down the best song off their divisive first studio album “Green”. Despite the album being divisive this song always seems to be given the accolades it truly deserves. Stipe moodily delivers fantastic lyrics that touched on new ground for the band. If you haven’t heard this song, do yourself a massive favor and go give “World Leader Pretend” a few spins.

8. “So. Central Rain” (Reckoning, 1984)

A song that completely encapsulates the perfect sound featured on their sophomore classic “Reckoning”. The lyrics are beautiful, the instrumentation is catchy, and Michael Stipe’s vocal performance is perfect and all that adds up to an amazing early alternative rock song complete with jangly guitars and moody vocals.

7. “Fall On Me” (Life’s Rich Pageant, 1986)

Probably the band’s first recognizable success came with this single as the video got decent airplay on MTV and it blew up college rock stations everywhere. One of the catchiest songs they ever recorded, “Fall On Me”  highlights one of R.E.M.’s best albums and defines the term college rock.

6. “Nightswimming” (Automatic For The People, 1992)

A truly beautiful ballad accompanied with lovely piano and vocals that make you feel more than you’d like to admit. The all-too-real lyrics and the pure and genuine tone it naturally has cemented “Nightswimming” as a memorable heartwarming song that only gets better the more you hear it. Really go check this beautiful song out as soon as possible.

5. “Radio Free Europe” (Murmur, 1983)

One of the earliest singles the band ever made that still makes you single along to the nonsensical lyrics even after you’ve heard it thousands of times. “Radio Free Europe” is insanely likable and completely defines the sound of the band’s debut album “Murmur”.

4. “Man On The Moon” (Automatic For The People, 1992)

One of the strangest singles from the band, but the song tackles a lot of topics in one song and it seems to do it beautifully. It’s one of those songs with that amazing chorus that just gets drilled into your head the first time you hear it. The performance and the catchiness of this song is what makes it so good especially the chorus which is what makes it such a powerful lovable song.

3. “Talk About The Passion” (Murmur, 1983)

One of the band’s earliest poetic songs and one that features a more laid back sound opposed to most of “Murmur”. This song doesn’t seem to be talked about at all unless by real R.E.M. fans and those are the people who really cherish it. Some beautiful lines mixed with the rawness of the band’s early sound is what solidifies my love for this album.

2. “Losing My Religion” (Out of Time, 1991)

The band’s smash single that broke them into mainstream success still holds up amazingly 25 years after it’s initial release. Now it’s become a rock classic and has retained a status on the same level as other hits of the era. With thought provoking lyrics, angry and raw vocals and layered instrumentation accompanied by one of my favorite music videos of all time, it makes sense why this is the song that brought them universal acclaim. It’s truly legendary.

1. “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” (Document, 1987)

There’s an endless amount that could be said about this song and what it means. It’s honestly one of the best pop songs to ever be recorded in my opinion and every single aspect including the fast, rambling verses, perfect backing vocals, catchy jangly guitars and hard-hitting drums along with the political yet smile-inducing lyrics that can only put you in a great mood. All of it leads into one of the best choruses ever put to tape and I truly mean that. Out of the enormous discography from this acclaimed pioneering rock band, this song remains their greatest achievement and has only grown in popularity since it’s release. It’s proved itself addictive and timeless and even if the end of the world as we know it comes, this song will keep us feeling fine.

R.E.M. Series: “New Adventures In Hi-Fi” (1996)

“New Adventures In Hi-Fi” is a tragically underrated catchy, moody, and carefree goodbye to Bill Berry

Review of R.E.M.’s underrated final album with drummer Bill Berry

By Carter Bagley

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After three massively successful albums in the early 90’s R.E.M. was one of the biggest bands in the world. By 1995 they were touring in support of “Monster” and started to write and record a new record while on the road that was much different than their last three. It was titled “New Adventures in Hi-Fi” and was released in 1996 to critical acclaim but commercially was less of a success than the previous. The fact that they were on the road gave the songs a natural rustic and sprawling sound to them, something that was definitely not featured in “Monster” and to much less effect on “Out Of Time” and “Automatic For The People”. The album starts with the slow burn opener “How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us”. It’s slow and effectively sprawling and a fantastic start to a fantastic record. The lyrics are expertly written although are nonsensical and strange in typical older R.E.M. fashion. The second song “The Wake-Up Bomb” is kind of a bizarre New+Adventures+in+HiFi+PNG.pngsong overall with very obscure and random lyrics and Michael Stipe also sings them in a very eccentric way. It has a sense of charm to it though but has a different tone to it than the majority of the album. However track 4 “New Test Leper” is far and away my favorite song on the album and I think it’s an underrated masterpiece. The arrangement of the entire thing is beautiful and Stipe’s catchy and melodic vocals along with his perfect lyrics make this song a masterwork. Peter Buck’s lead guitar and Mike Mills’ bass blend perfectly together creating an emotional and heartfelt sound and Bill Berry’s drums are light and back it all up well. “Undertow” is decent and has a very southern sound to it but the verses are dragging and slightly irritating it but the chorus is effective enough to make the song listenable filler. “E-Bow The Letter” was the lead single for the album and it sounds like early 90’s R.E.M. and the lyrics are greatly written and Stipe recites them almost like poetry. It’s a nice song and a good hint at what the whole album would hold. The catchy and simple lead guitar is what interests me the most about this track and I find myself humming it after I listen to it a few times. The next track “Leave” is very melancholy and the acoustic and backing instruments to the beginning of the song is heartbreaking without even giving us words. It then breaks into a very produced louder sound reciting the guitar we heard in a powerful aggressive way. Stipe sings terrific lyrics in a lovely sad fashion and you almost instantly fall in love with the song especially once Stipe hits the loud notes of the chorus. After the long duration and sadness that was “Leave”, the band counters this with the loud, short, and explosive “Departure”. It sounds like something off “Monster” but not in a bad way and it’s very catchy and has fast-spoken word verses and a catchy chorus. A definite highlight from this album is the single “Bittersweet Me”. It consists of great lyrics, an energetic vocal performance from Stipe and jangly guitars from Mike Mills and Peter Buck. Bill Berry’s drums are also present and give the song a very good rhythm. The album follows the high that was the last song with “Be Mine” and it is easily as good if not better than “Bittersweet Me”. Buck’s guitar is probably the best thing here which perfectly backs up the soft vocals delivered by Stipe. There isn’t really much to the song than those two elements but about halfway through the song picks up in steam and adds more established drumming and bass. “Binky The Document” isn’t quite as good as what comes before as the lead vocals and lyrics seem kinda uninspired but the guitar is ringing and attention-grabbing. “Zither” is a short instrumental track with nice simplistic southern sounding instrumentation. It’s a little interlude of sorts to the albums final songs. “So Fast, So Numb” is a sadly overlooked song from this album and their catalog in general. The lyrics are as good as anything else on this album and the chorus is meaningful and catchy and gets stuck in your head. Everything about this song says single to me and I wonder why they chose some of the singles they did over this. Whatever the reason, it’s still a fantastic song that any fan 0f R.E.M. should check out. Peter Buck also gives a brief but memorable power guitar solo that which is a plus. “Low Desert” is shorter compared to most of the other songs on this album and has a recognizable southern rock sound to it. The lyrics are alright but as a whole it’s a good listen in an album full of great songs. The song that closes the album is the single “Electrolite”. It features a nice and well performed piano by Mike Mills and the lyrics are sweet and clever and it’s a great way to end an album. In fact it’s probably one of the better songs on the album with it’s carefree nonchalant yet sweet feel to it that counters the more grimy southern feel of the previous track. As a whole “New Adventures In Hi-Fi” is a tragically underrated record in R.E.M.’s catalog and is a lovely goodbye to longtime drummer Bill Berry. It’s the end of R.E.M.’s second era and with it having lengthy album-oriented tracks as opposed to poppy singles I can understand by casual fans weren’t as enthused to go purchase this record compared to the previous three. However none of that takes away the fact that this album is catchy, moody, carefree, and has an amazing on the road sound to it that I haven’t experienced in many other albums ever. With 14 songs, most of which being on the longer side, this could count as the band’s first and only double album and definitely one to check out.

Rating: 8.5/10

R.E.M. Series: “Automatic For The People” (1992)

“Automatic For The People” is a beautiful, slow-paced, and at times rather moving piece of music

Review of R.E.M.’s best-selling classic album “Automatic For The People”

By Carter Bagley

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Enjoying life as rock n roll superstars R.E.M. expanded their career even further with the outrageously successful “Automatic For The People”. Often considered one of if not the best album in their discography and it’s officially gone 4x platinum by the RIAA standards. Although it didn’t reach number 1 on the charts (it did reach #2 however) like it’s predecessor “Out of Time” did or it’s successor “Monster” it’s still sold more overall and has had a more lasting affect. Containing several songs you’ve probably heard before like “Drive”, “Everybody Hurts”, “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight”, and “Man On The Moon” it definitely has it’s share of hits. The album opens up with the lead single “Drive” and instantly feels fresh, original and good as hell. It’s a very slow track but has a hard hitting anger to it. It’s not as flashy and poppy as many of their other songs but it’s calm and calculated and methodical. It features a noticeable alternative rock sound to it mixed with automatic-for-the-people-by-rema slightly southern tie to the way it’s performed instrumentally. The second song “Try Not To Breathe” is an extremely underrated song in their discography and Michael Stipe’s vocals don’t explode like in other songs but the lyrics and chorus are memorable and anyone who knows the band well would recognize this song as a great one. “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite” has gotten some slack over the years with some saying it’s not a very good song including the band themselves. I don’t understand this as it’s energetic and light unlike a lot of the album and it’s one of my favorites on the whole record. Stipe also has a fantastic vocal delivery on the song and you can’t help but turn it up loud and sing along to it. The most famous track from the album however is the hit “Everybody Hurts” which I think everyone has heard in some way or another. It’s melancholy and the lyrics are much more basic than the rest of R.E.M.’s biggest songs in my opinion, it’s still a great song though and if it was a different artist I would be praising it I just know R.E.M. are capable of more but I can’t deny the marketability of this song. After track 4 the album goes through a series of non-singles as the whole record is pretty much bookended with singles with the exception of “Try Not To Breathe”. Track 5 is the first up and it’s titled “New Orleans Instrumental No. 1” and you can guess that it’s just an instrumental track. There’s not much to say about it besides that it sounds nice and sad but the piano on it was a nice addition. “Sweetness Follows” is a deep cut that only real R.E.M. remember and I will say it’s a fantastic song that get’s tragically overlooked far too often. It’s a soft, well written and beautifully performed song that everyone should check out. “Monty Got a Raw Deal” and “Ignoreland” are the next two songs and the former is a great song and continues the softer, depressing theme of the album. Bill Berry’s drums are very noticeable and carry a great rhythm through the entire song and the lyrics are raw. “Ignoreland” is more upbeat and the instrumentation sounds like an 80’s pop song. Michael Stipe sings loud and confident lyrics and it’s a nice enough song overall but doesn’t compare to what came before it. Track 9 “Star Me Kitten” might be the most depressing song on the album and Stipe’s vocals are deep and quiet and the band gives a constant “ahh” backup vocal. Peter Buck’s guitar is simple and the percussion is mostly just cymbals and you’re supposed to focus on the mood more and it doesn’t entirely work for me but I still enjoy it as a nice little interlude into the last three songs. My personal favorite song on the album is “Man On The Moon” and I think it’s among the band’s greatest overall. The lyrics are weird and speak of the late comedian or “song and dance man” Andy Kaufman. Despite being very odd lyrically they’re still very heartfelt and emotional and it explodes into a perfect chorus that will be stuck in your heard for weeks. It’s truly a highlight on the album and shows how talented R.E.M. can be and how they’re so unconventional yet can appeal to all types. If you’ve never heard “Man On The Moon” you need to check it out as soon as you can. “Nightswimming” is another highlight and it’s probably the most beautiful sounding song the band ever made. The piano by Mike Mills is beautiful and Stipe’s vocals and lyrics are poetic and beautiful and moving. This song just keeps growing on you the more you listen to it and it stands out as nearly perfect and gorgeous. The album finishes it’s perfect three song streak with the album closer “Find The River” which sounds different than the rest of the album and it almost resembles John Denver in tone and feel but it’s much better than the vast majority of his catalog. The lyrics are beautiful and the melodica adds a nice instrumental touch to it. The chorus is lovely and one of the album’s greatest with yet another great vocal performance and the backing vocals and piano add to a fantastic album closer to a fantastic album. “Automatic For The People” is one of the band’s greatest albums they ever recorded and it’s more heartfelt than most of their other albums but it’s not quite my favorite. Despite that I can’t deny that it’s a beautiful, slow-paced, and at times rather moving piece of music that will only grow more perfect with time. It’s a timeless record that I always find myself returning to and if you’ve just heard the singles from it or maybe none of the songs at all then you’re missing out on fantastic music.

Highlights: Drive, Try Not To Breathe, The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite, Sweetness Follows, Man On The Moon, Nightswimming, Find The River

Lowlights Lesser Highlights: New Orleans Instrumental No. 1, Star Me Kitten

Rating: 10/10

Film Review: “Blair Witch” (2016)

An interesting premise and some good frightening moments don’t make “Blair Witch” succeed completely

Review of the new sequel to the influential found-footage classic “The Blair Witch Project”

By Carter Bagley

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The 1999 modern horror classic “The Blair Witch Project” revolutionized the found-footage style of filmmaking, which is now one of the most popular techniques in low-budget films. Whether that’s for better or worse is up to you because most found-footage movies are just cheap, lazy, and unoriginal like the “Paranormal Activity” series, “Unfriended” or “The Last Exorcism” but for every once in a while we get a film like “Chronicle”, “Creep” or “V/H/S/2” that’s surprisingly good. Either way the original “Blair Witch Project” film is a good horror film for what it is, maybe a tad overrated but still good nonetheless. So when just a few months ago Adam Wingard announced that his latest film “The Woods” was actually secretly a Blair Witch sequel titled “Blair Witch” I was mildly interested. Wingard is an intriguing filmmaker who made the 2014 thriller “The Guest” which I really loved quite a bit when I watched it and he already directed the entertaining house invasion thriller “You’re Next”. This new film follows James who is the younger brother of Heather from the original film who disappeared and hasn’t been seen since she left for the Black Hills Woods in Burkittsville, Maryland 20 years ago and the footage was found later which was the film “The Blair Witch Project”. She went missing when James was 4 and now he’s in his early 20’s and his friend Lisa who’s doing a film school project decides to help him investigate it by going into the woods themselves. James’ childhood friend Peter and his girlfriend Ashley choose to tagalong also as they meet two Burkittsville residents who posted footage online that James believes could be from Heather. The residents join them on their journey into the woods helping guide the group and before long weird stuff begins to happen and when they soon find themselves unable to escape the woods that’s when the real terror sets in. It’s an interesting enough premise and it works for the first act of the film. You somewhat care for the characters, some more than others, and you understand their perspective and they don’t seem completely incompetent like most horror characters. The problem with this film though is that in a lot of ways it’s the same movie as the original until the film’s final 15-20 minutes or so. Somewhere later in the second half and beginning of the third I got bored as it seemed a bit repetitive. There were definitely some unique moments thrown in there though, specifically one involving a voodoo figure. It does seem that the filmmakers really cared about making a good horror film, and they did a decent job for the most part, it just feels like the screenwriters didn’t know what to do with the film at certain parts and so it comes off as filler. The ending though elevates the film quite a bit however as it brings in original concepts and well-paced thrills. You even get a few genuinely frightening images and moments in the witch’s extremely creepy house. If you enjoy the original or like these kinds of horror films there’s a good chance you’ll get a few kicks out of this latest installment. If you’re into the franchise’s lore then you’ll definitely enjoy it as it introduces some interesting concepts. If you’ve never seen the original film though I advise you watch that one instead as overall it’s a more effective and consistent film although “Blair Witch” might have a few better moments.

Rating: 6/10

 

 

List: Top Twenty-Five Albums of the 1990’s

A very diverse era full of unique sounds and the first time when alternative rock ruled the billboard charts.

American Graffiti’s countdown of the best albums of the 90’s

By Carter Bagley

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For my first list on this website I decided to do a countdown of some of my favorite albums from one of my favorite decades for music: the 1990’s. A very diverse era full of unique sounds and the first time when alternative rock ruled the billboard charts. A time when people from all across the spectrum could pursue music unlike decades before. Before I get a bunch of hate, I want to clarify that these are my personal favorites so if some of your favorites aren’t on the list it just means I didn’t necessarily like them as much as these for any number of reasons. Here’s my countdown of the twenty-five greatest albums of the 1990’s

Albums That Almost Made It

There were quite a few that I had a hard time not putting on the list. So here’s only a few that I would consider to be honorable mentions.

R.E.M. – “Out of Time” (1991)

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The album that turned R.E.M. into one of the most popular and richest bands of the 90’s isn’t as fantastic as many of their others as it has a lot of flaws despite the highs being so good with songs like “Losing My Religion”, “Shiny Happy People”, and “Country Feedback”. Click here for my full review of it.

Semisonic – “Feeling Strangely Fine” (1998)

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A lot of people might not agree with me here, mostly because Semisonic is pretty much the definition of one hit wonder with their song “Closing Time”, but their album “Feeling Strangely Fine” is fantastic outside just that one song.

My Bloody Valentine – “Loveless” (1991)

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I really do enjoy this album as it’s such a unique and important album. Although it’s never had the effect on me that’s it had on others.

Jeff Buckley – “Grace” (1994)

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Jeff Buckley is another singer-songwriter tragedy like Elliot Smith was. His magnum opus “Grace” is nothing short of fantastic, it’s just that I couldn’t find a place for it on my top 25. His music is so personal and transcended the decade even and I have a feeling many people would get mad at me for only putting it here.

The Magnetic Fields – “69 Love Songs” (1999)

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The Magnetic Fields have always been on those low profile indie bands but they created a somewhat classic of the indie genre in “69 Love Songs”. With such an interesting concept you can hear songwriter and primary lead singer Stephen Merritt searching his heart and putting his soul into this record and it works out as because of the length you begin to not focus on the individual songs or words, but the feel of the whole album.

 

The Stone Roses – “Second Coming” (1994)

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The second studio album by The Stone Roses took a long time to hit the shelves, too long even. Legal disputes troubled them but they finally got around to releasing their follow-up in 1994. It took many off guard with it’s loud lead guitar and songs that sounded more like 70’s rock than the jangle britpop from their debut. This didn’t make it bad by any means as it’s actually quite great but it was too different and too late and many didn’t give it a chance.

Here it is now: The Top 25 Albums of the 1990’s

25. Cast – “All Change” (1995)

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Cast was a band that was created after the singer songwriter of The La’s, Lee Mavers, left the band and the remainders of the group formed a new one. Their debut “All Change” came out after Britpop exploded in the U.K. and it was the genre The La’s helped create and it’s only fitting that Cast’s debut would be amongst the best records of the era.

24. Wilco – “Being There” (1996)

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Like I said on my review for Wilco’s “Schmilco”, I have yet to fully delve into their discography. Although when writing that review I totally forgot about their sophomore effort “Being There”. This being my favorite album out of the one’s I’ve heard from the band is saying a lot because I also quite love “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”. “Being There” is a double album and the songs split up into what sounds like two complete albums. The songs “Misunderstood”, “Outta Sight (Outta Mind)”, and “Sunken Treasure” from iy should also be heard by everyone.

23. Neutral Milk Hotel – “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” (1998)

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Neutral Milk Hotel has always been their own band. They have a unique folk-indie rock sound and great strained vocals by Jeff Mangum combined with some truly fantastic lyrics that made this record such a success. “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” is definitely not for everyone, but I can guarantee first hand if you do like it on first listen, it will only grow on you more and more from then on.

22. Radiohead – “The Bends” (1995)

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The album that came before “OK Computer” would’ve been the best for most bands and you can hear how it prepared the band to make their 1997 classic. Still though, “The Bends” has some beautiful moments on it and is a phenomenal album all on it’s own. This is also the album with “Fake Plastic Trees” on it which is no doubt one of the best from the band.

21. The Verve – “Urban Hymns” (1997)

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Maybe the last britpop album ever made if you ask me, as everything that came after never had the same feel. This album made The Verve a recognizable name amongst most music fans as this was definitely their most marketable album they’ve made. Although the success of their single “Bitter Sweet Symphony” was unprecendented (as it is a really great song) but “Lucky Man”, “The Drugs Don’t Work”, and “Sonnet” are also fantastic songs.

20. Nirvana – “In Utero” (1993)

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The third and last studio album by grunge band Nirvana differed from it’s predecessor in many ways and although it’s not nearly as consistent as Nevermind, the highs are just as high with songs like “Serve The Servants”, “Pennyroyal Tea”, “Heart-Shaped Box” and “All Apologies” and the lows are also not very that low but admittedly they’re still present.

19. Guided By Voices – “Alien Lanes” (1995)

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90’s indie darlings Guided By Voices always had their unique vision on alternative rock. “Alien Lanes” is my favorite album by the band and it consists of 28 shortened songs written brilliantly by Robert Pollard (despite a few of the tracks by other members) that run together almost like Side 2 of The Beatles “Abbey Road” famously did. This unique trait is what really makes “Alien Lanes” feel like a true cohesive gem with underrated tracks like “A Good Flying Bird”, “Game of Pricks” and “Closer You Are”.

18. Pulp – “Different Class” (1995)

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Pulp’s “Different Class” is a pure britpop album that might not have worked in any other era. Looking back at it though it still holds up as being consistently great all the way through and Jarvis Cocker’s breathy vocals, retro pop instrumentation and exhilarating lyrics still make it pretty fantastic. It’s really an album that’s unlike any others and I advise you all to give it a chance.

17. Pavement – “Slanted and Enchanted” (1992)

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The first studio album by indie rock band Pavement. It’s more jumbled than “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain” but that’s what also gives it some charm. The critical success of this album is also kind of bizarre because Stephen Malkmus has never had the best voice and the lyrics also trail off sometimes. Overall though that’s what made Pavement such a unique band with endless charm. Besides, the songs “Here” and “Zurich Is Stained” are both very personal songs to me.

16. Blur – “13” (1999)

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Blur’s last album with guitarist Graham Coxon who besides Damon Albarn was definitely a creative force in the band. It also happened to be their last album of the decade that made them so famous. From beginning to end “13” is a very fascinating, original album with some immense creativity put into it. Also, “Tender” is definitely one of the greatest songs of the decade if you ask me.

15. The Smashing Pumpkins – “Siamese Dream” (1993)

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Billy Corgan and co. had a very good album streak in the early to mid 90’s and this is the pinnacle of all that. With almost a post-grunge sound “Siamese Dream” stands out as a truly unique and spectacular album. Anyone who ever gives The Smashing Pumpkins shit just play them “Today” or “Disarm” and I can guarantee it will shut them up.

14. Nada Surf – “High/Low” (1996)

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“High/Low” is a very very very criminally underrated album. Produced by Ric Ocasek and released by Elektra records “High/Low” should’ve been a massive success although Nada Surf tragically fell into the one hit wonder category with their hit MTV video for “Popular”. Because of that their tremendous very 90’s sounding debut album sadly got overlooked by many.

13. Elliott Smith – “Either/Or” (1997)

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Elliott Smith probably came the closest to being considered the Bob Dylan of his generation than anyone else. His melancholy raw writing style is fantastic and the tragedy of his death years after this release only elevated the sadness of his entire discography. Elliott Smith was a true genius lyricist with a very recognizable voice and “Either/Or” is a singer-songwriter classic for any music fan to listen to.

12. Oasis – “Definitely Maybe” (1994)

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The debut album by rock band Oasis is truly amazing for a debut album. “Definitely Maybe” is extremely confident showing that Oasis knew exactly how great they were before they even released anything. I mean, put this in perspective. Two poor brothers and their friends from Manchester weren’t complaining about their lives like other bands were at the time, instead the first song on their first album singer Liam Gallagher  was confident enough to scream that he was a rock n roll star in the chorus. Sure the Gallagher brothers are cocky assholes 99% of the time, but in the end isn’t that what rock n roll has always been about?

11. Blur – “Parklife” (1994)

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Being an American myself I can only get an understanding of the Britpop movement in Britain from what I read online. Although I’ve often understood from what I’ve seen and heard is that Blur’s “Parklife” did for Britain what Nirvana’s “Nevermind” did for America. It’s an endlessly catchy and creative masterpiece and maybe one of the greatest straight-up pop albums I’ve ever heard.

10. Pearl Jam – “Ten” (1991)

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There’s not much more I can say about Pearl Jam that hasn’t already been said. They’re simply one of the  biggest bands of the past quarter century and “Ten” is a grunge classic that came out the same year as Nirvana’s “Nevermind”. It made Pearl Jam the Rolling Stones to Nirvana’s The Beatles. Fighting for the number one I’d say Nirvana came out on top but it easily could’ve went the other way. Either way “Ten” is still considered a classic rock record these days as it deserves, right up there with “Nevermind”.

9. Weezer – “Pinkerton” (1996)

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The sophomore follow-up to “The Blue Album” was a commercial and critical flop at the time of release. Which I can understand because it’s much different with Rivers Cuomo singing about depression and loneliness. It is much less fun than their debut although it makes up for it with it’s pioneering emo undertones. It acts as a confessional for singer-songwriter Rivers Cuomo and has since become an undisputed classic.

8. Pavement – “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain” (1994)

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The second album by indie rock band Pavement is what brought them to a wider audience and rightfully so. “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain” is a tremendous indie rock classic that was a critical and commercial success. Filled with some bizarre songs that are endlessly catchy like “Gold Soundz”, “Cut Your Hair”, and “Range Life” it’s really a record everyone should give a listen to.

7. R.E.M. – “Automatic For The People” (1992)

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R.E.M. was one of the most prevalent independent bands of the 80’s and also a pioneer of Alternative rock. Their 7th studio album “Out Of Time” made them a massive rock band which nobody saw coming, although the follow-up “Automatic For The People” is the one where they really found their footing with the major label. With several classics like “Everybody Hurts”, “Man On The Moon”, and “Nightswimming”… “Automatic For The People” is truly one of the bands best work. Click here for my full review of it.

6. U2 – “Achtung Baby” (1991)

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The follow up to “Rattle and Hum” came in ’91 and instantly became one of their greatest albums. With a new sound the band previously didn’t have, “Achtung Baby” is one of the albums that made U2 one of the biggest bands on the planet. Front to back original and powerful with so many great songs on it that you almost forget how it’s not a greatest hits album. Everyone knows classics like “One”, “Even Better Than The Real Thing” and “Mysterious Ways” but one of my favorites is the lovely album closer “Love Is Blindness”.

5. Oasis – “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory” (1995)

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Yes, this is the album with “Wonderwall” on it. It is probably the only song most people outside of Europe know from Oasis, but they were always so much more than that. The majority of the album is just hit single after hit single including one of my favorite songs ever is track 4 on the album “Don’t Look Back In Anger”, which everyone should check out. Besides that the album runs together really well with little 40 second instrumental segments sprinkled through that makes it feel as if it’s a massive show being broken down by intermissions and the whole thing is closed with the 7 minute masterpiece “Champagne Supernova”.

4. Green Day – “Dookie” (1994)

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“Dookie” is what turned Green Day into the international success that they are known to be today. It’s simply just an extremely phenomenally fun rock record that has such an amazing energy to it. 90’s staples like “Basket Case” and “When I Come Around” and others that influenced a whole new generation of punk bands to come after, whether what for better or worse still doesn’t take away the greatness that is “Dookie”.

3. Nirvana – “Nevermind” (1991)

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Easily one of the most influential albums ever made and probably the album most people would pick for Number One. Nirvana left an unmistakable mark on the music world and this is the album that caused it. Almost every song on it is a downright classic and this is one of those classics that will never be forgotten, and a new generation of teenagers will always find it and fall in love with it just like they did when it came out.

2. Radiohead – “OK Computer” (1997)

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“OK Computer” is one of those albums that’s just so beautiful to listen to. Out of all of Radiohead’s stellar discography this one stands out as their greatest achievement. Beautiful melodies mixed with Thom Yorke’s lovely vocals turn the record into a true creative masterpiece. Almost every single damn song on it is just so good and most may know the singles but please give a listen to underrated tracks like “Let Down”, “Exit Music (For A Film)” and “Climbing Up The Walls”.

1. Weezer – “Weezer (The Blue Album)” (1994)

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Starting off I didn’t think this would be my number one. Although after thinking about it I honestly couldn’t think of another album I’ve gotten into more than Weezer’s debut. It’s easily one of my favorite albums of all time and it never seems to get old or lose it’s effect on me. It’s just so fun all while being so perfect in almost every way. Very few albums have ever been as air tight as Weezer’s debut, and I mean ever. Click here for my full review of it.

 

 

Classic Reviews: Weezer “Weezer (The Blue Album)” (1994)

In 1994, four nerdy twenty-somethings released a catchy pop rock album full of unconventional lyrics about love and loneliness that was just the opposite of most music being made at the time. Little did the band know that it would turn out to be a massive multi-platinum success.

Review of Weezer’s classic self-titled nerd-rock opus dubbed “The Blue Album”

By Carter Bagley

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In May 1994 the american alternative music scene was still mostly dominated by grunge bands and news of Kurt Cobain’s suicide was still making the rounds all across the nation. That is until four nerdy twenty-somethings released a catchy power pop album full of unconventional lyrics about love and loneliness that was just the opposite of most music being made at the time. Little did the band know that it would turn out to be a massive multi-platinum success. Weezer consisted of singer-songwriter and lead guitarist Rivers Cuomo, rhythm guitarist Brian Bell, bass guitarist Matt Sharp and drummer Patrick Wilson. Each band member having their own quirky personalities and with Rivers Cuomo maybe being one of the most unconventional frontman in rock history, the band quickly2510875420_299e76f3d1_b amassed a large audience. Right as the needle hits the groove on Side 1 and the opening acoustic guitar on the iconic “My Name is Jonas” begins the album immediately sucks you in. Despite sounding like an early 90’s song unlike the majority of the album it proves to be one of the greatest album openers of any album in my own opinion. Rivers sings jumbled and random lyrics that seem to be talking about nothing until further examination. After multiple listens the song begins to take on a higher meaning that really makes it a beautiful song. There’ s multiple explanations to it but the one I seem to side with is Rivers is writing about coming to age as an adult and looking back on blurry childhood memories with a fondness and getting mixed up with the confusing idiosyncrasies of adult life. “No One Else” and “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” are two amazing pop rock songs that seems to be widely overlooked. The former is a comically goofy take on a relationship with a fantastic lead guitar and bass on it. “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” is a downbeat melancholy tune with great lyrics about loneliness and regret that proves Weezer was much more than the other pop rock bands from that era. The most easily recognizable hits are tracks 4, 5, and 7 as they were all smash radio hits. “Buddy Holly”, which is also almost just as famous for it’s amazing music video, was a massive success and was endlessly catchy and cheery with some of Rivers’ most bizarre and geeky lyrics he’s ever written. He’s always had his own unique way of writing about love and the chorus of “Ooh eeh ooh I look just like Buddy Holly, and you’re Mary Tyler Moore. I don’t care what they say about us anyway, I don’t care about that” is what cemented this fun track as a modern rock classic. The next song is even better in my opinion and might be they’re best song which is “Undone – The Sweater Song”. It also has very strange writing about being an introvert and not being good at interacting with others and the thing that he decided to express that is by comparing it to the act of pulling a thread and unraveling a sweater; Which is indeed a very nerdy analogy but genius at the same time.With people talking in the background and very anxiously performed verses it sets the mood for this near perfect song. The third single released from this album “Say It Ain’t So” tackles a more serious topic than the other songs which is about the severe alcoholism Rivers Cuomo got from his father genetically. A very depressing topic but with smooth guitar and relaxing verses matched with an explosive angry chorus, Weezer manages to turn a very depressing song into a fun alternative rock radio staple. The band also shows their nerdy to side to full effect on the songs “Surf Wax America” and “In The Garage”. The first is their way of making a surf rock tune but it doesn’t sound like any other ever made with themes about not wanting to work a boring job and doing what they want instead. The song that I relate to the most of the entire album is “In The Garage” in which the lyrics describe a lot of things I do first-hand and Rivers describes his nerdy personal life hanging out in his garage. “Holiday” is the next track and for some reason the first couple seconds reminds me of the first couple seconds to The Beatles song “She Said She Said” from “Revolver”. The song overall is a very catchy pop rock song that despite not being anything amazing it’s completely listenable and grows on you after a few spins. The album goes out with a bang though with the colossal closer “Only In Dreams”. It’s an 8 minute song with a soft beginning that slowly builds that tells the story of a guy who’s interested in a girl but because of his awkwardness he can only dream about it. The first couple minutes are soft and lovely all while being slightly sad although it builds into a fantastic longing chorus and an explosive epic guitar solo from Rivers Cuomo that ensures “The Blue Album” finishes strong. The iconic cover photo brilliantly captures the awkward nature of the entire album Producer Ric Ocasek (former lead singer of The Cars) does a fantastic job tying this whole record together into one of the most perfect alternative rock albums of all time.

Highlights: My Name is Jonas, The World Has Turned and Left Me Here, Buddy Holly, Undone – The Sweater Song, Say It Ain’t So, In The Garage, Only In Dreams

Lowlights Lesser Highlights: Surf Wax America, Holiday

Rating: 10/10