Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The 12 Best Songs From 2012

I know the year isn't over yet...but December 21st is a mere day away and I need to get this list in before Cthulu comes strolling down Main st....or whatever is going to happen. Ok, I am unaffected by the Apocalypse talk, but this year has been great for music and I was too excited to wait for January for this list. Without further ado, here's the year's 12 best.

12. "Time To Dance" - The Shoes

The Shoes are a electro-funk duo from France, not to be confused with the 70's group Shoes that came out of Zion, Illinois. This duo is a pair of music producers who have worked with the likes of Ladyhawke, Shakira and The Golden Slivers. "Time To Dance" lives up to it's name. A relentless hip-shaking, pulse pounder that includes a tinge of old arena rock infused piano. I'm a sucker for spelling out words in a song as well. One the best music videos of the year (This list features a few candidates). Jake Gyllenhal slaughtering hipsters? Works for me.

11. "Wolves" - Big Wreck

Ian Thornley is back where he belongs, knocking out inspired and rejuvinated tunes with the Boston boys in Big Wreck. Their first album in 10 years is the summer's Albatross which is a reminder of why Big Wreck were so successful in Thornley's native Canada in the late 90's. "Wolves" has a feel like it's an old classic right off the bat and it holds up being performed live as well. Another sign of a great song.

10.  "Ill Mind Of Hopsin 5" - Hopsin

Hopsin is a rapper from LA who has been releasing a series of videos on Youtube and in the fifth installment he expresses his frustration with today's culture and obsession on unrelatable fame. A feeling that many of us have but don't express with such style and cadence. It's interesting that he feels remorse that he's part of the very scene that he's riffing on. Can't wait for his album, which is to be released in 2013.

9. "Madness" - Muse

Sometimes the greatest songs come out of terrible moments. While the moment that inspired Muse's "Madness" isn't as terrible as it could be, it's one I'm sure most of us can relate to. After fighting with his girlfriend frontman Matt Bellamy thought about it and realized he was in the wrong and had to go to his mother-in law's place to admit he was wrong. Who's house was that? Goldie Hawn's as Bellamy is dating actress Kate Hudson.

8. "Some Nights" - Fun.

This was definitely a year for Fun. And yes their official name has that period on the end of the word. Fun. are from New York and have been making music together since 2008. Their song "We Are Young" exploded on the scene this year and catapulted them into the world's collective ear. I found the song sort of forgettable to be honest, but their follow up single "Some Nights" is what I call a fun song. It's got great vocals, a great flow and message that the heavy percussion hammers home.

7. "Oblivion" - Grimes

Claire Boucher, who performs under Grimes, is a Canadian artist located in Montreal. She started turning heads when she opened for Lykke Li on her 2011 tour and released her album Visions earlier this year which received rave reviews from both fans and critics. "Oblivion" is such an enchanting song, dreamlike and Grimes' shy almost lisped singing style is a welcome change to the usual.

6. "This Head I Hold" - Electric Guest

Another group from LA is Electric Guest who's debut album Mondo came out early 2012. "This Head I Hold" has a fun and very catchy hook. Almost daring you to not attempt a dance move or 2 while you listen. Mondo was produced by DangerMouse after him and Electric Guest singer Asa Taccone met through a family friend and became friends.

5. "Emmylou" - First Aid Kit

From the first steel guitar swells of "Emmylou" by Sweden's First Aid Kit you can tell that you're in for a treat with song. It's sounds are suitable for a back drop of memories of times spent laying around with someone and enjoying watching the minutes click by.  First Aid Kit, who took their name randomly from an English dictionary (love it!) are sisters who have been writing music together since 2007. The Lion's Roar their second album together. This song gets extra points because it's one of the first that i've heard that includes my name in it's not that name...

4. "Breeze Blocks" - Alt-J

Hailing from Britain, Alt-J also began their musical career in 2007. Though they've had a few EPs released 2012's An Awesome Wave is their official debut. Littered with references to many other works, novels and films it's quickly gaining momentum. "Breeze Blocks" may take some time to warm up to, but once you do it burrows into your head and you'll find yourself humming it I guarantee. Another great video which doesn't hurt either.

3. "The Afterman" - Coheed & Cambria

I'll admit I was slipping. Coheed & Cambria, one of my current favourite bands, released a new album in October and I was unaware of it until I saw it on the shelf in a music store. After picking it up and giving it a few listens, I realized that this one could be their best. The Afterman: Acsension is part one of a double disc with part two being released in 2013.  The title track is a mind-blowing song, so delicate and devastating. Powerful and simple. Told from the perspective of a woman losing someone close to her and not having the proper forum to say goodbye. I've never doubted Coheed's abilities and I never will.

2. "California" - Delta Spirit

I had this one as the candidate for the number one spot for most of the year. From Delta Spirit's self titled album "California" is one of those melancholy songs disguised under a happy beat and care free presentation. The realization of doing what you need to is the one thing that will destroy your perfect little world in a heartbeat.

1. "Song For Zula" - Phosphorescent

I was about a minute and twenty-seven seconds into this song when I realized how incredible it was. So effortless, why hasn't this song been written before? It feels like being the first one to step on to a new planet. Matthew Houck is the man behind the music in Phosphorescent. His latest album Muchacho will be released in the new year, but "Song For Zula" was an early Christmas gift to all of us. Almost the opposite of the last song. "Song For Zula" celebrates life and love under an almost introspective haze. His voice hit's the right notes at the right moment and it's just the right length. Damn near perfect. A soundtrack for life's perfect moments for years to come.

Thanks for reading everyone!

Enjoy the Holidays and ol's Johnny will see you in 2013


Thursday, 13 December 2012

10 Great Duets

Though it's seldom seen these days the duet has always been a mainstay of musical culture. Two people want to be lead singers? Make it a duet! The duet used to have it's own category in the Grammys...not sure if it does anymore. Here's 10 Great Duets

1. "Relator" - Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson

Yes that Scarlett Johansson. She's actually got a very unique singing voice, breathy, airy and reminiscent of singers from decades ago. This song is of the album Break Up which is a collaborative effort between the two. The entire album deals with, obviously, the fragility and turmoil of romance for those in a traveling business. Like musicians and actors.

2. "Broken" - Seether feat. Amy Lee

Seether were a hard rock/heavy metal group with origins in South Africa. So it came as a surprise to fans when the re-released their song "Broken" in 2004 with Evanescence's Amy Lee contributing on lead vocals. Maybe not so surprising after it was revealed Lee was involved in a relationship with Seether frontman Shaun Morgan at the time. It's still Seether's biggest hit to this date, but many saw it as a step in the wrong direction for the band.

3. "Easy Lover" - Philip Bailey & Phil Collins

Twin Phil attack!! This was off Bailey's solo album Chinese Wall which Collins played drums on. Though Bailey was talented and a well known artist from his time with Earth, Wind & Fire, he still felt he needed a strong single-worthy song for the album. Collins and himself sat down and wrote "Easy Lover".

4. "Borne On The FM Waves Of The Heart" - Against Me!

Tom Gabel has a way of fitting words and lyrics into his songs without falling into the trap of forcing them to rhyme. Yet his songs touch on the experiences we as humans and listeners live every day. "Borne On The FM Waves Of The Heart" which features Tegan and Sara's Tegan, deals with looking at falling in love from an objective and pragmatic stand point. From Against Me's 2007 album New Wave.

5. "Cruisin'" - Huey Lewis & Gwenyth Paltrow

Yes that Huey Lewis. This song was recorded for the 2000 film Duets. It's a cover of an old Smokey Robinson song and Lewis and Paltrow actually do a very good job at maintaining the song's loose and velvety vibes.  Paltrow has dabbled in the music world from time to time and recently appeared on that Glee show everyone is talking about.

6. "N 2 Gether Now" - Limp Bizkit feat. Method Man

Wanna add immediate street cred to your band? Acquire a member of one of the most notorious hip-hop groups of all time, Wu-Tang Clan. In the late 90's Fred Dursts' Limp Bizkit was everywhere, but this was kind of before they wore out their welcome. This song is actually very enjoyable, catchy and quick. Durst and Method have a good flow going too.

7. "Little Know It All" - Iggy Pop & Sum 41

Pay attention. This may be the only time i'll admit openly that I enjoy a song that Sum 41 has any involvement with. Iggy Pop's 2003 album Skull Ring featured numerous collaborations with punk acts from past and present such as Green Day, The Trolls, his old band The Stooges and yes Canada's Sum 41. Not sure what it is about this track, but the energy level is constant and Iggy actually sounds great!

8. "Turn Your Back" - Billy Talent & Anti-Flag

Though it actually only includes Chris #2 and Justin Sane from Anti-Flag i've seen "Turn Your Back" credited as being by both bands before. I think it's a cool idea, not just 2 singers getting together, but 2 bands rocking together on a single track. This one is off Billy Talent's third album, so I guess it's more credited to them than Anti-Flag.

9. "I Saw Red" - Sublime feat. Gwen Stefani

Before No Doubt really made it big, Gwen Stefani was gaining notoreity in the SoCal ska-punk scene by hanging out with Bradley Nowell and Sublime. She contributes guest vocals on this blink-and-you'll-miss-it track from their 1994 album Robbin' The Hood.

10. "Jackson" - Johnny Cash & June Carter

Perhaps one of the most famous duos in Country Western history is Johnny Cash and June Carter. They met while the Carter Family were on tour with Cash in the late 60's and Johnny proposed to her while on stage in London, Ontario. "Jackson" was originally written by Jerry Leiber and Billy Edd Wheeler, but Cash and Carter's version was much more popular. Even more so after the movie Walk The Line was released and Reese Witherspoon and Jaoquin Phoenix performed the song.

Goodnight y'all


Monday, 26 November 2012

10 Great River Songs

I'm going to ease myself back into the blog with a rather rudimentary post. Sometimes in music you see some themes develop amongst the songs. Whether they are lyrical themes, trends in style and dress or a new instrument or device artists use to create their sounds, it's undeniable. Rivers are used often in songs to convey something mystical or insurmountable. Perhaps it's because they are natural borders and can symbolize the boundaries and walls we deal with in our every day lives. Here are 10 great songs about rivers.

1. "Many Rivers To Cross" - Jimmy Cliff

A popular song used at funerals and memorials, Jimmy Cliff wrote this song when he was struggling to gain some kind of recognition through grueling tours. He was touring Europe and crossed the English Channel when he wondered what more he had to do to gain acceptance. This song was enough to launch his acting career and cement his position as being one of the best known Reggae artists.

2. "St. Lawrence River" - David Usher

David Usher first gained fame in his native Canada as the front man for the alt-rock group Moist. He released his first solo artist in 1998 named Little Songs. The songs on his debut album were more introspective and had a slower, more pensive pace than what Moist fans were used to. Moist would later disband in 2000 as Usher continues to record as a solo artist. The St. Lawrence River is known to Canadians in Ontario and Quebec as well as Americans in the North Eastern States as being one of the natural indicators of the Canada/USA border.

3. "Find The River" - REM

Automatic For The People was as close as REM came to releasing a perfect album. "Find The River" is the final haunting track and is one of my personal favourites. It features an odd vocal harmonization from bass player Mike Mills and Drummer Bill Berry. They each listened to the song and added the backing vocals that felt fit the song, but didn't listen to each other's tracks. The result is quite interesting.

4. "River Of Styx" - High Holy Days

One of the only musical exports from North Bay, Ontario that ever made a ripple was High Holy Days who were Christened by The Tea Party's Jeff Martin. The first song released off their debut All My Real Friends was "River of Styx" which stood out from other songs that mainstream was playing, but sadly never got the push or promotion other High Holy Days singles received. The band would re-release "River of Styx" a few years later remixed and over-produced to even less interest. Sorry about the's the only one on Youtube I could find of it...

5. "River Of Dreams" - Billy Joel

Billy Joel often gets overlooked when talking about great pop artists from the 80's and 90's. River Of Dreams  was his last album of contemporary music. If only more artists knew when to bow out gracefully instead of releasing terrible albums and becoming imitations of themselves. And if only more artists would release albums as magical as River Of Dreams. Seriously, if you haven't heard the whole thing I strongly recommend it.

6. "The Humbling River" - Puscifer

Puscifer is Maynard Keenan's side project from his other groups Tool and A Perfect Circle. There is no real common vein in Puscifer's songs, it's merely a channel Maynard feels he can use to get his creativity out in ways that wouldn't fit with the other 2. Again, the theme in this song is being able to conquer anything except the metaphorical river.

7. "Somewhere Down The Crazy River" - Robbie Robertson

Legendary Canadian producer Daniel Lanois was working with Robertson on his up and coming album when Robbie started telling stories about hanging with Levon Helm in Arkansas. Lanois thankfully was recording and fiddling with a chill musical bed Robbie had laid down earlier. That's when they came up with the idea for "Somewhere Down The Crazy River" one of Robbie Robertson's biggest hits as a solo artist.

8. "Rivers Of Babylon" - Sublime

Originally written by Jamaican Reggae group The Melodians "Rivers of Babylon" was also recorded by Boney M in the late 70's.  Sublime's version was recorded live and featured as on an acoustic album of past performances released after singer Bradley Nowell's death. It's a sweet song and great reminder that Sublime's main influence was Reggae music.

9. "River Man" - Nick Drake

Haunting and enigmatic like all Nick Drake songs, "River Man" comes off of his debut Five Leaves Left. Drake used complicated timing and chord structure to ensure he could achieve the exact sound he wanted for his songs. Sadly it wasn't very marketable in the late 60's and Drake died nearly 20 years before his songs ever gained any kind of success.

10. "Meet Me By The River's Edge" - The Gaslight Anthem

This song is pure New Jersey rock. Borne out of warm nights in fast cars and Bruce Springsteen songs. Gaslight Anthem's whole album The 59 Sound is all like that actually. A perfect album from cover to cover, rare for this day and age. If you're looking for an album to harken back to your younger days of being free and stupid, pick this one up and give it a listen.

Hey that wasn't so bad


Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Top 100 Songs Of The 90's Part 4 (24 - 1)

24. Pantera - "Cowboys From Hell"

I don't think i'll ever get sick of the guitar riffs in this song. Simply remarkable. Pantera was part of the rush of metal groups who were buried under the hair and glam rock of the 80's who finally emerged victorious in the early 90's.  The group suffered from many internal problems and squabbles between band mates and struggled to get through the decade eventually permanently dissolving in the early 2000s.

23. Lenny Kravitz - "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over"

People tend to forget about Lenny Kravitz when it comes to great artists from the 90's. Here was a guy who would tell it like it is and also knew his way around a guitar. "It Ain't Over 'til It's Over" is his shining moment. Written during his ongoing rocky relationship with Lisa Bonet, the song has Lenny's heart spilled all over it and I think many of us can relate to the message. Is it just me or does he look hung over in the video?

22. Stereophonics - "Hurry Up And Wait"

This list was not easy for me....I have several regrets and mistakes as I look back on the songs gone by. I knew early on that Stereophonics would be high on the list, but one of the toughest decisions was selected which track to include. I hope I did right thing.

21. Blur - "There's No Other Way"

Long before "Song 2" Blur were a mainstay atop the UK charts. Their second release from their 1991 debut was a groovy throwback song that was a mixture of alternative and dance. Blur struggled to break through in North America, their toiling and patience would soon pay off when the 'yanks eventually noticed them in 1997.

20.  Rammstein - "Engel"

I love the momentum of this song. It's almost impossible not to get primal and show your appreciation for the metal infused "Engel" through slam-dancing and moshing. Geesh, it's people still mosh anymore?

19. Green Day - "Bab's Uvula Who?"

This is the Green Day I miss. I don't even miss their Dookie days. Insomniac will forever be the superior album in my opinion. I have no clue as to what the title means, but the raw, unforgiving punk moment that is etched in time that is "Bab's Uvula Who?" trumps anything Green Day has done before or since.

18. Toad The Wet Sprocket - "All I Want"

Pay mind to the fact that there is no "and" in there. Toad The Wet Sprocket were silently amassing a large and loyal following during the nineties. I'm sure they would all cry blasphemy for me choosing "All I Want" over "Walk On The Ocean"  or "Something's Always Wrong" but you cannot deny as soon as you hear this song, you smile. It awakens something inside you, something that made you glad that you were young and free in the 1990s.

17. Everclear - "Santa Monica"

Simple chords. Easy to remember lyrics and slightly spoken vocals. That with the combination of Art Alexakis' bleached hair, there is little more to add here that could scream more 90s. Oakley sunglasses maybe. Interesting side note here in 2005 lead man Alexakis filed for bankruptcy after owing over 2 million in tax debt. He sold the rights to his songs to cover the costs.

16.  The Verve - "Bittersweet Symphony"

This song was supposed to turn it all around for The Verve....who had to add the "The" in front of their name because a jazz record company was already using Verve. The song is a fantastic piece of music, the music and even the video is immortal in the memories of young teens who could watch it almost every hour on MTV or MuchMusic. Sadly, the legal problems continued for The Verve who used an orchestral version of a Rolling Stones for the main hook of the song, but they neglected to get permission. Almost all of the royalties to the song had to be handed over to The Rolling Stones former manager. Talk about bittersweet.

15. Social Distortion - "I Was Wrong"

One of music's last true punks Mike Ness started Social Distortion back in 1978 and are damn near untouchable as far as respect from fellow musicians goes. The list of prominent Social D fans goes from Neil Young to Tom Waits to Metallica. Proving that they still had some fire left in 1996 they released White Light, White Heat, White Trash which was a much more introspective album than previous efforts and came off completely honest and brutal. "I Was Wrong" is undeniably catchy and infectious. It was the song that started me on the path to lifelong Social Distortion fandom.

14. Neil Young - "Harvest Moon"

Neil Young is sometimes referred to as the Grandfather of Grunge, mainly because he is a known influence to many prominent 90's bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana. Kurt Cobain referenced a Neil Young song in his suicide note, a fact that Neil rarely addresses out of sheer respect. 1992's Harvest Moon is seen as a sequel to Young's legendary 1972 album Harvest. Though it's not grunging too much the title track is a sweet love song, pure and true.

13. Massive Attack - "Angel"

Massive Attack were leaders of the trance and electronic genre in the late 80s and 90s. They often incorporated various instruments and multiple vocalists on their albums. "Angel" features reggae singer Horace Andy and only actually uses 2 chords. It relies on sounds and effects to entice the listener along. A beautiful song in every aspect.

12. "Brick" - Ben Folds Five

Ben Folds Five was actually a trio and rose to fame near the draw of the nineties. Known for his quirky lyrics "Brick" is actually quite a sad song. It deals with the singer of the song taking his girlfriend to have an abortion and as it appears, it doesn't get much better for the couple after that.

11. Metallica - "Hero Of The Day"

Metallica took a lot of flack in the late 90's. From cutting their hair, to taking on Napster, to releasing albums that were far from 'thrash' it's a wonder Metallica didn't just dig their heads into the sand and come out in the year 2000. I'm glad they didn't. Their 1996 album Load is what started it all for me. Not just being Metallica's biggest fan, but my whole love affair with music. My wingman when times were hard, my copilot on long winter road trips. Even when it came to picking up a guitar and creating my own music it was Load at the journey's first step. The album's triumph is it's sixth track "Hero Of The Day". There is little to say about the song that can't be summed up by listening to it, but try to shut everything else out. There's a message in this song that each one of us can connect with.

10. Stone Temple Pilots - "Interstate Love Song"

Here we go. The top ten.

Stone Temple Pilots get thrown into the Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Bush all sound alike discussion quite often. Which is said before many bands were signed in the 90's (and always) because studios were after a certain sound. The sound that was sought after was the grungy, quasi-mumbly alt-rock. The a song like "Interstate Love Song" comes along and dear forget everything else the band ever did for 3 and whatever minutes. That guitar riff is pure magic and Scott Weiland actually sounds like he's having fun for once. If I wrote a song like that, I guess i'd be happy too.

9. Tool - "Sober"

I've talked about Tool's brilliance before and believe me they will be included on my Top 100 Songs from 2000-2009 list. "Sober" blew my mind when I first heard it. How do you describe music like this? It isn't simply music, is it? The song sucks you in and stops you from what you're doing, but once you get deeper and hear the magnificent guitars and relentless drumming you're glad it did. I should mention the video as groundbreaking for it's most Tool videos were.

8. Nirvana - "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle"

I'm sure many of you speculated which Nirvana song would rank the highest and it wasn't easy. In Utero has always been my favourite Nirvana record, no question, but there are so many classics on there. "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle" just seems like a song that's uniquely Nirvana's. It comes from a different place than other songs, almost like it was thought up carefully and with intent. That chorus is fantastic as well.

7. Jeff Buckley - "Hallelujah"

One of music's all time greatest covers. A legend covering a legend. Jeff Buckley brings a haunting stillness to Leonard Cohen's timeless words. It's a song about love, but one can't help feeling cold. Hallelujah is a word of joy, so why does it invoke tears? The fact that Buckley is alone with his performance save perhaps the ghosts from his past, reveals why he now owns "Hallelujah".

6. The Verve Pipe - "The Freshman"

To this day The Verve and The Verve Pipe make people confused. Which band is which? It seriously wasn't that difficult to figure out. "The Freshman" goes down as one of the best songs of the 90's, but sadly The Verve Pipe amounted to little else. It's of small concern as this song can be listened to at anytime and i'm sure it makes a new fan every minute.  The lines are blurred as to which events in the song are based on truth or not. As most great songs usually are, this one is left ambiguous.

5. Third Eye Blind - "Semi-Charmed Life"

I held on to this song for a long time...the more I thought about it the higher it kept climbing. It really is one of those timeless 90's songs that you can enjoy no matter how many times you hear it. The energy level is consistent and it's a song about sex and drugs cleverly masked under upbeat music and near falsetto vocals. Third Eye Blind could be one of the 90's most under appreciated groups, though no single ever topped "Semi Charmed Life" they continued to release solid albums into the 2000s.

4. Dave Matthews Band - "Crash Into Me"

Perhaps on of Earth's sweetest songs. All elements of the Dave Matthews Band come together to form a song so near perfect it's often dismissed as a dream. As a guitar player one of my quests to was to conquer this song...I think I did it once in my younger days, but I'd be arsed to try and have a go at it today. It's another kind of perverted song under the guise of a sweet love song, as it seems to be about a voyeuristic peeping tom.

3. Radiohead - "Street Spirit (Fade Out)"

The crescendo from my favourite Radiohead album The Bends. It's ethereal and a musical juggernaut. Thom Yorke puts on one of his finest earlier vocal performances while the band does a great job at maintaining the songs pace until it's epic climax. Even Radiohead knew they had no way to top it, so they included as the final track of the album.

2. Pearl Jam - "Black" 

As personal and autobiographical as Eddie Vedder's words can be there is one song that he remains sly and elusive about: "Black". He has opened up in recent years and began performing it again, but in it's infancy the song was reserved for those who owned Pearl Jam's perfect album Ten. The song is so popular because it seems to be about the universally relatable topic of relationships gone awry. Some of Vedder's finest word play can be found in "Black". "I Know someday you'll have a beautiful life. I Know you'll be a star in someone else's sky, but why can't it be in mine?" Why is it just #2 and not #1? As great a song as "Black" is there are some cases where you just can't listen to's almost too personal. It was a close race though.

1. Foo Fighters - "Everlong"

Here it is. The best song of the Nineties. The Foo Fighters came out of Nirvana's collapse. Drummer Dave Grohl got his chance to for the band he'd always wanted and play some songs that just wouldn't work under Nirvana. While his first album was a good introduction 1997's The Color and The Shape is where he became the ultimate front man. "Everlong" is bliss. It's a song that you can let loose and get sweaty to, but also it's so easy to feel what Dave is singing about. Loving someone through the worst times of your life and that being enough to carry on. Thats what the song means to me. Acoustic or electric the song always gives me chills. It's got heart. It's got balls. It's true Rock and Roll in a time when many thought the very ideal was invalid. We will never get sick of "Everlong". It will always be.

I think I hate this list already.

It almost killed me. I may need some time off from the blog for a while.
But please think of some lists you'd like me to do. Or spend some time rereading some of my old ones

Thanks again to all those who read these!

I don't do them for myself...these lists all exist in my head...I do them for everyone else!

Long Live 90's music!


Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Top 100 Songs Of The 90's Part 3 (50-25)

50. Blind Melon - "Change"

People have called Blind Melon a one hit wonder, which makes me re-think that label completely. Sure Blind Melon's only song that hit the charts was "No Rain" but they've had many moments of brilliance and countless great songs. Many are more enjoyable than "No Rain"...."Change" for example. Lyrics from this song were used as Shannon Hoon's epitaph.

49. Sponge - "Have You Seen Mary?"

There's undeniably something about girls named Mary. I'm not sure if it's because the name fits effortlessly into lyrics, the name itself is common or merely the fact that girl's named Mary tend to have attributes that compel musicians to scribe about them. Denmark's Sponge were weak to one Mary's powers. Lucky us.

48. Primitive Radio Gods - "Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand"

This song i'm sure gets attention from the younger audience not only for it's absurdly long title, but what the heck is a phone booth?? As I mentioned one hit wonders earlier this was a notable one from the 90's. Peaking at #10 Primitive Radio Gods wouldn't be heard from again....which is a shame. The song is etheral, dream-like and calming. It samples B.B King's "How Blue Can You Get?" Something not many artists outside of hip-hop were doing at the time.

47. Naughty By Nature - "Jamboree"

Most historians will glaze over "Jamboree" in favour of Naughty By Natures other staples "OPP" or "Hip Hop Hurray". "Jamboree" always had the more instant classic feel for me. It felt like i'd be listening to it decades after it's 1999 release date and I am.

46. R.E.M. - "E-Bow The Letter"

An album that is often missed when thinking about great releases from R.E.M is New Adventures In Hi-Fi. It showed maturity and began R.E.M's journey of independence. Making music and creating the albums that they wanted to. "E-Bow The Letter" exemplifies that perfectly. A beautiful piece of music overlayed with words that Michael Stipe initially intended for his friend River Phoenix before his death in 1993.

45. Santana - "Put Your Lights On" Feat. Everlast

Santana staged a much welcome comeback in the late 90's but thankfully he knew well enough that the landscape had change and didn't try to squeeze a six minute guitar solo in between Barenaked Ladies' "One Week" and Marcy Playground's "Sex & Candy". What he did provide us though is a musically diverse album that incorporated some talented and extremely willing guests on each track. Everlast must have been the favoured son as "Turn Your Lights On" was the album's nadir and is still haunting this many years later.

44. Gin Blossoms - "Found Out About You"

Doug Hopkins was a tragically lost soul. Suffering from depression for much of his life he dreamt of getting a gold record. After receiving one for "Hey Jealousy" he destroyed it after only 2 weeks. In 1993 we killed himself after one of many stints in the hospital. He brilliance hasn't gone unnoticed however, unlike so many talented musicians. His gift for crafting songs could have had it's roots in a troubled past. Whatever the case 'Found Out About You' remains one of the Gin Blossoms' best.

43. The Offspring - "Gone Away"

The Offspring's 1994 album Smash put these guys in the stratosphere. Everyone had a copy, in some cases people had two. Front to back a definite must own from the nineties. The follow-up to that album Ixnay On The Hombre wasn't as well received, but it did yield The Offspring's most impressive song to date. "Gone Away" took the swing from cranked up skater-punk jams into a cry to the sky lament to one of life's harshest lessons. Dexter Holland rarely talks about the inspiration to this track, but if their anything what the lyrics suggest, I think he's entitled to that.

42. Blues Traveler - "Runaround"

From a sombre song of the 90's to one of my top picks for a great pick-me-up on a Monday morning. This song often gets mistakenly credited to Hootie & The Blowfish or Counting Crows. Blues Traveler were from New Jersey and had the distinction (and great boon) of having John Popper as their front man. An imposing figure physically, but he had a unique voice and to this day one of the most proficient and prominent harmonica players out there.

41. Lisa Loeb - "Stay"

Loeb was a virtual unknown musician living in New York City in the early 90's. Her big break came when a friend of hers gave a copy of her song "Stay" to Ben Stiller who was working on the film Reality Bites. The song was used at the end of the movie and was included on the soundtrack. As a result the song skyrocketed to the the #1 position on the charts. Making it the first time an unsigned artist hit #1. Who was Lisa Loeb's friend who got this ball rolling? Ethan Hawke.

40. Our Lady Peace - "Naveed"

I wonder if anyone will call me on this.

39. Wilco & Billy Bragg - "California Stars"

When the great Woody Guthrie left behind annals of unfinished songs. Lyrics without music. Billy Bragg got together with Chicago band Wilco, picked them up, dusted them off and finalized Guthrie's legacy on the album Mermaid Ave. "California Stars" is one of those stars I can listen to on repeat for hours. I can't imagine anyone being in a bad mood when this song is going.

38. Smashing Pumpkins - "33"

Melon Colie & The Infinite Sadness was definitely the Pumpkins' opus. It was really the first double album to gain major recognition from the 90's and while the highlighted songs like "Bullet With Butterfly Wings", "Zero" and "1979" got more attention there were plenty of songs behind the curtains I felt were more worthy. Among them "By Starlight", "Farewell & Goodnight" and "33". "33" is a dream of a song, unlike anything heard of before or since. Just a delight to listen to. The video appears to be shot intentionally choppy, when it's really a series of photographs all strewn together.

37. Better Than Ezra - "Desperately Wanting"

Better Than Ezra's homage to fraternities was one of those forgotten gems from the 90's. Had a great initial run but then quickly vanished under the more favoured single "King Of New Orleans". A song like this can bring right back to a better time, like the singer is harkening back to his younger days.

36. Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Scar Tissue"

I was never really much of a Chili Peppers fan. They had some good songs, but I felt their greater material were either covers or released in the 80's. Though not exactly a comeback album, Californication saw the return of guitarist John Frusciante and with the mediocre One Hot Minute in the past RHCP were back in everyone's heads.  With those infectious little solos that get more complex with each pass and a perfect vibe to close out the 90's "Scar Tissue" was the perfect shot in the arm the Chili Peppers needed to keep them going through the next decade.

35. Fiona Apple - "Criminal"

So much potential summed up in one exquisite song. Her sultry, yet brash voice. The slow, tumid cadence of the instruments. The overlaying sexuality of the entire song..."Criminal" is a delight from the 90's that I will be listening to for many years to come. Sadly, Fiona's career suffered many pitfalls and she has since dropped off the map. I'll cover those in a future post.

34. Metallica - "Nothing Else Matters"

This song was not initially intended for a Metallica album. As singer/rhythm guitarist James Hetfield was talking to his then girlfriend over the phone he was plucking an acoustic guitar with his one free hand. The more he played the less he paid attention to the voice on the other end and focused on what would eventually become one of the greatest ballads from the 90's. James thought about saving the song for a solo album, but thankfully it was included on Metallica's 1991 legendary Black Album.

33.  Bush - "Swallowed"

It always seemed Bush were fighting for their own survival throughout the 90's. Like there was always some factor working against them and someone was just willing to see them fail. Razorblade Suitcase was the last solid effort from the English quartet and the lead off single was pure alt-rock delight. As soon as the opening sounds of "Swallowed" begin you're instantly taken back to those first few times you sat down and watched the video. Those were simpler times weren't they?

32. Oasis - "Don't Look Back In Anger"

During the studio sessions for What's The Story? (Morning Glory) Noel Gallagher threatened his brother that he would sing lead vocals on one of the songs that would become hits...he gave Liam the choice to pick either "Wonderwall" or "Don't Look Back In Anger". "Wonderwall" was a song Noel wrote as a profession of love to his future girlfriend so of course Liam chose that one in spite of his brother. I think Noel won out "Don't Look Back In Anger" has always been the superior song.

31. Rage Against The Machine - "Born Of A Broken Man"

Nearing the end of the decade and consequently the end of a millenium many bands were releasing important and beautiful albums. Rage Against The Machine were no exception. The Battle Of Los Angeles was a perfect record from start to finish and it would turn out to be the last full album of original material that Rage would release as they would break up in 2000. "Born Of A Broken Man" is one of those deep tracks that is a favourite at Rage shows and never seems to get old. Love the guitar part at about 3:30.

30. The Roots - "You Got Me" feat. Eykah Badu

There is little rap more delightful than intellectual rap. Words that seem to be written with a deeper purpose than just to shake some booty or establish a pecking order on the charts. The Roots are a Grammy Award winning group from Philadelphia that formed in the late 80's. "You Got Me" is a great song that takes a darker look at relationships and the flow of the song pulls us in and we just need to know how the story turns out. Erykah's addition just makes the song that much more timeless.

29.  Pearl Jam - "Alive"

In to the top 29! Here we go! Pearl Jam's Ten was not just a great record. To this day I can't be sure that Pearl Jam were alone in writing it. From start to finish it seems to be from another existence...we listeners get but a mere glimpse of what's waiting for us on the other side of the afterlife's curtain. When it's over we aren't exactly sure what we just heard, but we know we've been changed. "Alive" is perfection in 50 different languages. Eddie and co. were in top form when this song came about and this isn't even PJ"s highest charting song!

28. Sublime - "Santeria"

It's difficult to describe Sublime because there isn't really anything to compare them to. It was the genius of Bradley Nowell and his easy living mentality that made Sublime so impossible to ignore. Sadly he'd never live to see the true success of the group as he overdosed days before the release of their self-titled album's release which saw Sublime finally break in to the consciousness of the masses.

27. Goo Goo Dolls - "Name"

This song might be higher than some would have anticipated, but admit it, when this song comes on the radio you ask everyone to be quiet. Or you wish you hadn't quit trying to learn the acoustic guitar when you were 13. Or you wish you hadn't blown it with that girl with the curly brown hair. Or you wish you could go back to when you were young and give it one more shot.

26. The Watchmen - "All Uncovered"

Us Canadians had nothing to lose when we threw our hats into the musical arena. The Watchmen had everything to gain after they released this gem back in 1994. It's what most 90s songs and every Canadian song should aspire to be. Simply joyous.

25. Hayden - "The Hazards Of Sitting Beneath Palm Trees"

Songs need not be complex, showy or heavily produced to be meaningful. Canada's Hayden understands this perhaps better than most. His 1998 album The Closer I Get is pure art. It should be hung on walls and taught in schools. "Hazards Of Sitting Beneath Palm Trees" is a delightful track that freezes a moment in time that most people can relate with. The ending of the song is pure genius. I wish I thought of it.