1995: Feeling Good (For Now)

By 1995, Alternative was the mainstream. I spent that Memorial Day at a music festival sponsored by Milwaukee’s corporate modern rock radio station. Violent Femmes were the hometown headliners, but their most recent (and likely last good) album, Rock! would never get an official domestic release; in fact, none of the bands I saw are on this mix. Next to the Femmes, the highlight was seeing the Ramones on the second stage on one of their last tours. They ran through 30 songs in 40 minutes, and more than made up for having to sit through the Flaming Lips (whom I’ve never liked) and Thank You-era Duran Duran (yes, they played their versions of “911 Is A Joke” and “White Lines” from that misbegotten covers album).

I don’t mean to reduce an entire year to a singe event, but this particular one points to how alt-rock, after having built up considerable goodwill in the decade’s first half instantly began to curdle. Fortunately, a superb left field hit would occasionally emerge amongst all the Live and Alanis: “Connection”, “Down By the Water”, “Better Than Nothing” “Sick of Myself”, “Champagne Supernova” and “1979” are all tracks I first heard via heavy rotation on New Rock 102.1, and all of them sound good today. Other songs, like “Downtown Venus” and “Somebody’s Crying” might not have fit that radio format, but they were in the air somewhere: on other stations, in people’s cars or perhaps (gasp) even on MTV! Plus, Britpop was at its peak (see tracks 22-24), trip-hop was close to getting there (#15 and 18) and even a band as wacky as Southern Culture on the Skids was on a major label.

Like 1991 and 1993, this was a slightly better year for singles and tracks than full-lengths although the albums the Bjork, Tricky, Luna, Ben Folds Five and Pulp songs are from aren’t too shabby, and I even considered writing at further length about Grant McLennan’s Horsebreaker Star and Jill Sobule’s self-titled release (the one with “I Kissed A Girl” on it) for some time. And yet, I’ve made room for a few great one-offs, like Moloko’s terrific debut single and Autour de Lucie’s en français jangle-pop-for-the-ages. Actually, I wanted to include more outliers, from Pretty and Twisted, Eddi Reader and Eve’s Plum to anything from Echobelly’s On, but none of it is on Spotify (nor is Pizzicato Five, whose “Happy Sad” deserves a spot on this mix.)

Click here to listen to my favorite tracks of 1995 on Spotify:

  1. Elastica, “Connection”
  2. P.M. Dawn, “Downtown Venus”
  3. Luna, “Sideshow By The Seashore”
  4. Jill Sobule, “Good Person Inside”
  5. Jen Trynin, “Better Than Nothing”
  6. PJ Harvey, “Down By The Water”
  7. Ben Folds Five, “Best Imitation of Myself”
  8. Matthew Sweet, “Sick of Myself”
  9. Teenage Fanclub, “Sparky’s Dream”
  10. Chris Isaak, “Somebody’s Crying”
  11. Autour de Lucie, “L’Accord Parfait”
  12. The Smashing Pumpkins, “1979”
  13. Kirsty MacColl, “Caroline”
  14. Southern Culture on the Skids, “Camel Walk”
  15. Moloko, “Fun For Me”
  16. Garbage, “Queer”
  17. kd lang, “Acquiesce”
  18. Tricky, “Aftermath”
  19. Morphine, “All Your Way”
  20. Bjork, “I Miss You”
  21. Eric Matthews, “Fanfare”
  22. Pulp, “Something Changed”
  23. Blur, “The Universal”
  24. Oasis, “Champagne Supernova”
  25. Grant McLennan, “Horsebreaker Star”

One thought on “1995: Feeling Good (For Now)

  1. Howard April 27, 2016 / 9:35 am

    So much good music in that list. Great job. “Better Than Nothing” is on my best.songs.evah playlist.


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