Monday, 24 March 2014

Rob Reid's Top 90 Alt-Rock Songs of The 90's (Part 3)

With the shock of today's sad news slowly dwindling let's get back to business at hand. We are down to the last 30 songs on my man Rob's favourite 90's Alt-Rock songs. Some bands who's absence you may have been curious about finally appear and few surprise salads get tossed in along the way. Let's get gone!

30. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" - Nirvana

I've yet to encounter one song list from the 90's that leaves this one out. Yes, these days it is overplayed and yes everyone seems to have a different song as their favourite from Nirvana, but when this came out it's meteoric impact was undeniable. The resulting nuclear winter after "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was unleashed started to settle in the mid-2000s, but the musical landscape was forever changed.

29. "Touch, Peel & Stand" - Days Of The New

See? Would a song like this have got noticed if Nirvana had not paved the way? Moot point, but it's one to think about. Days Of The New had a ton of promise when this gritty, acoustic track came out in 1997 but after that brief success the cracks began to show. Lead man Travis Meeks, notorious for his erratic behaviour, began cancelling tour-dates and openly criticizing band decisions.  In 1998 he "fired" the rest of the band (who would go on to form Tantric) and Days Of The New from then on out would be known as Meeks' own project with a revolving door of backing musicians (even including Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussy Cat Dolls)

28. "Flagpole Sitta" - Harvey Danger

Soundtracks in the 90's were a great place for a band to get their songs out in the mainstream. Also, since this was an age before downloading domination, us listeners could pick up a soundtrack and get a bunch of great singles without having to buy each artist's album. Romeo + Juliet had a great soundtrack. Some of the Batman sequels' soundtracks were more enjoyable than the movies they accompanied and the forgotten classic Disturbing Behaviour had an excellent soundtrack which features a yet to be mentioned song on this list, as well as Harvey Danger's jovial, sing along, paranoid anthem "Flagpole Sitta"

27. "Hey Jealousy" - Gin Blossoms

The Gin Blossoms out of Arizona had one of the most distinct 90's sounds of any band that gained popularity in the decade. Don't ask me to elaborate on's just that as soon as you hear the opening stings of a Gin Blossoms song it's like you're whisked back to's great. Sadly some great bands are marred by great tragedy. The man behind some of their catchiest tunes (like this one) was Doug Hopkins who endured a life long battle with depression, alcoholism and a temper to match that eventually got him kicked out of the band. Earning a gold record for this song wasn't enough to pull him through his struggles as he would commit suicide in 1993

26. "My Hero" - Foo Fighters

The Color & The Shape was the album that let the world know that The Foo Fighters weren't just the next thing Dave Grohl involved himself with, it was the band he was always supposed to form. After Cobain's death and the end of Nirvana Grohl released an album of songs he had written during his time as Nirvana's drummer, but this second album was written with the Foo Fighters as the main focus and world domination in mind. Songs like "Monkey Wrench", "Walking After You" and this one "My Hero" cemented the Foos place in rock history and it was only the beginning.

25. "Shimmer" - Fuel

Though some of Fuel's best known hits came in the early 2000's their first album Sunburn was released in 1998 and contained my favourite song of their's. "Shimmer" has got that catchy little guitar hook that builds the song up just enough before the drum kicks in and turns it into a true rock slap in the face. Fuel had a knack for great lyrics that are on display here. Their future faced a kink in the road however in 2003 when lead singer Brett Scallions collided on stage with guitarist Carl Bell and required surgery to repair a deviated septum. That along with turmoil among band members, made Fuel fall out of memory with many fans. Thankfully we have some great songs to look back on.

24. "Silver" - Moist

Silver and Creature are two perfect albums by Canada's Moist. Released in 1994 and 1996 respectively they were so good that Moist quickly became my second favourite group in the 90's (behind Metallica). Silver was a slower, grind it out effort over Creature's higher octane rock. The title track here gained them the most attention, an impressive feat by a song named after one of the English language's un-rhymeable words.

23. "Runaround" - Blues Traveler

Perhaps the only "alt-rock" group from the 90's...or any decade for that matter to have a lead harmonica player who also doubles as the lead singer is New Jersey's Blues Traveler. "Runaround" is by far their run away biggest hit. This song has topped my list of songs to get you motivated for a Monday morning. The positive energy in this song is impossible to contain. Though they'd never match the success of this song, Blues Traveler still play music together to this day. Check out some other songs by them "Carolina Blues", "The Mountains Win Again" and "Most Precarious" to name a few

22. "Pardon Me" - Incubus

Boy I keep getting distracted by watching all the videos for these songs!  I can't help it! They're so good...but I do wanna get this list done before the Sun comes up.

I must admit when "Pardon Me" came out I didn't like it at first...such is the case with things we don't understand. We shun and avoid them, or even label them as "bad". I was a dumb kid. Eventually something clicked in my mind when I heard it one day and Incubus and this song have been a favourite of mine ever since.

21. "Got You Where I Want You" - The Flys

This was the other song from the Disturbing Behavior soundtrack I was talking about. I Think this one will go down as the quinnessential 90's track when historians want to really get to the core of what the decade was all about. Simple yet memorable and accessible guitar rift. Quirky lead singer who insists on singing into 2 microphones at once (it was his thing...I don't know). And a video with a bonafide 90's starlet in Katie Homes. Slammed and fucking dunked. The Flys did end up being a one hit wonder, but really how could you top this song? Especially with the white-boy rap break. One thing I love about this song is how the vocals remain steady and slowly drawn out as the music around them intensify to the blazing crescendo at the end! Aces!

20. "6 Underground" - Sneaker Pimps

The Sneaker Pimps took their name from a term coined by The Beastie Boys for someone who would bring hot new shoes for the band to wear. They definitely fit into the techno world that started to gain attention in the late 90's. "6 Underground" was their biggest hit and a crossover one at that. They continued to make music into the mid 2000s though with various singers. I had such a crush on this singer though Kelli Ali and loved when the video came on. The dark days before the internet...

19. "Wonderwall" - Oasis

Love them or hate them it's impossible to deny the sheer magnitude of Oasis' popularity in the 90's greatly caused by "Wonderwall". Oasis nearly single handedly re-ignited the US' love for British acts. Shortly after Oasis' album What's The Story Morning Glory? peaked in North America other British bands like Blur, Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics and Ash were getting praises from across the pond.

18. "Superman's Dead" - Our Lady Peace

Some people feel OLP ripped off "Wonderwall" for their song "Superman's Dead". I don't buy it, but fuck it...decided to put one after the other for squeaks and gigs. Have to give the edge to the Canadian boys though. "Superman's Dead" blasted Our Lady Peace's Clumsy through the roof and gained them fans all over the globe. Huh....apparently they did a different version of the video for US release....definitely much preferred the original with the boy and girl played by the singer from Serial Joe

17. "Red" - Treblecharger

Canadian songs are high on this list because I feel that they are the secret gems of the 90's. Only a select few among the music appreciators know them outside of Canada and for that reason it was a treat to hear them back when they were popular. Unless you owned the album Much Music was one of the only options to hear Treblecharger's "Red" and it's still great to this day. Not that i'm trying to be hipster-esque, but remembering the joy of getting to hear these songs is giving them the edge over some of the more popular ones that still get played on radio today.

16. "Clumsy" - Our Lady Peace

Named after the fantastic album it came off of "Clumsy" is my favourite of the 3 OLP songs Rob picked for this. I foolishly gave this album away to someone, but as I recall every song on it could have been a contender for this list. "4AM", "Let You Down", "Big Dumb Rocket", "Carnival". Fantastic stuff.

15. "Fake Plastic Trees" - Radiohead

In these last 15 songs you're gonna learn something about me. I'm a huge Radiohead fan and a big part of that was their emmaculate 1994 album The Bends. Like the above album every song on The Bends was fantastic. Though Rob didn't pick my personal favourite "Street Spirit", "Fake Plastic Trees" is a text book example of chill 90's music.

14. "A Long December" - Counting Crows

This song has "second single syndrome" written all over it. What's "second single syndrome"? Well have you ever noticed that the first single released off an album while good and gets your interest, it's typically the second one released that really resonates with you and is often the most successful or memorable off the album? Let's look at some famous second singles. "Everlong" - Foo Fighters, "Lightning Crashes" - Live, "Gone Away" - The Offspring, "Hero Of The Day" - Metallica. Might not be the most radio friendly songs, but definitely the ones that stick with ya

13. "In The Meantime" - Spacehog

I've seen this one top some lists of best 90's songs, it really has one of the most memorable and iconic opening riffs from songs of the decade....second only to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" maybe. Many people might be wondering what happened to Spacehog. They released a second album The Chinese Album in 1998 which produced a cool track called "Mungo City", but after that they kind of puttered out. The lead singer married Liv Tyler and well, I guess that kind of killed his ambition to commit to hard work in the music industry.

12. "Resurrection" - Moist

This is the song that sealed Moist for me. Hard to describe how this song digs so deep into my head and refuses to leave me for weeks. Great highs and lows in this track, plus the ending of this track could be on a list of great continuous lyrical breaks in a song. Always been a fan of David Usher's word play

11.  "Companion (Lay Me Down)" - Wide Mouth Mason

Second single syndrome again!! Hahah yess!!! The more you look at it, the more true it becomes! I might try and get a PhD in Music theory because of this. Seriously though, how good is this track? The offbeat of the drums and guitar combined with some fantastic vocal work and lyrics. Definitely one of the best songs written by a Canadian.

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

It's great when artists can sneak stuff passed the censors, though in this case Third Eye Blind weren't trying to sneak anything. They wrote and released a song with nothing fundamentally offensive, it's just that it's a song about rampant sex and drug use! Though one of the catchiest tracks to come out of the 90's, still need to listen to the whole thing when that "doo doo DOO" kicks in. While this is their best known song, 3EB have had a nice career with plenty of enjoyable tracks. Check out "Jumper", "Anything", "Crystal Baller" and "Never Let You Go".

9. "Paranoid Android" - Radiohead

While I think The Bends is Radiohead's best album it's their 1997 album OK Computer that typically gets the nod from most critics and fans alike. Even Radiohead themselves felt every song was worthy enough to be a single and were going to shoot a video for each track on the album until touring got in the way, and i'm sure they just decided they couldn't be arsed. "Paranoid Android" is a magical song pieced together from fragments of songs the band was working on. Listen for a dig at their fellow Brits the Spice Girls when Thom Yorke says "Kickin' Screamin' Gucci Little Piggy"

8. "Name" - Goo Goo Dolls

Some guitar players in the 90's might have driven themselves mad trying to learn this one with it's bizarrely unique tuning and remember the internet was not a household (or handheld for chirstsakes even) thing. Really can't think of much else to say about this one. Put in on, turn it up. Enjoy it...for 4 and a half minutes, sit back and enjoy it. Think of simpler times....think of that girl....what was her name?

7. "High & Dry" - Radiohead

Another great Radiohead track from The Bends. I'm not working for them I swear, but I kept seeing these songs on the list and saying to myself...."no man these need to be higher". This was definitely the forgotten single off the album. "Just", "Fake Plastic Trees" and "Street Spirit" got all the glory. "High and Dry" was the consummate pro by coming off the bench and giving us quality minutes when we needed it. Love the guitar in this one and Yorke's vocals have never been better.

6. "Apparitions" - Matthew Good Band

Another simple, somber, perfect song from the 90's. It wasn't about being complicated or mashing multiple genres together to come up with something transcendent. For a long time music was about making a connection with your audience on an emotional level. Sometimes I feel music today is falling away from that quicker and quicker. It hasn't vanished completely obviously, but it isn't in the foreground any more either. "Apparitions" by Matthew Good Band has what i'm trying to get at. There was alot of this in the 90's and this was done beautifully. DAMMIT. Could not find the official video on Youtube. The video for this song was really well done.  Check it out here

5. "What I Got" - Sublime

How would you describe Sublime to someone who had never heard them? Reggae? Reggae-ska? Punk-Folk? It's a tough one...and that's what I love about them. That's what i'm sure many people love about Sublime. The individuality of the music and refusal to stick to one winning formula, made fans really feel they had a connection with the group. Sadly Sublime's lead man Bradley Nowell would not live to see his band's most glowing success. He died of an overdose a month before the self-titled album was released. The album went gold and was highly praised by critics, but Nowell's death led to the end of Sublime.

4. "Desperately Wanting" - Better Than Ezra

You might be surprised how high this one climbed, but i'm telling ya Better Than Ezra should be right up there in conversations with great 90's bands. Why they never got the recognition they deserved i'll never know, but a song like "Desperately Wanting" is perfectly crafted and executed. No flash or gimmicky bullshit. A great effort from a three piece rock group that I still love singing along with

3. "No Rain" - Blind Melon

Shannon Hoon had so much potential. Blind Melon could have been the start of some kind of 60's spiritual revival. We could still be talking about how great their live shows are and comparing new albums to Blind Melon's self-titled debut. But we're not. Drugs suck. However, we will always have songs like "No Rain" when we need simple escapes. Blind Melon are responsible for some killer songs, "Change", "Toes Across The Floor", "Skinned". "No Rain" got the most attention, but also got them labelled as a one hit wonder. I suppose, but check out their catalog and wipe that negative association from your mind.

2. "In Bloom" - Nirvana

Before the release of Nevermind and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" Nirvana made a video for their song "In Bloom" in 1990. As predicted it didn't make any head way, how could it? It was not attached to any kind of commercial release. Two years later as Nevermind was stomping around the music scene, smashing windows and breaking down doors they re-did the video and made "In Bloom" an official single. This time it made waves and even won an MTV video award...which i'm sure Kurt was just thrilled about.
As a drummer Rob made sure to single this track out to me. Not that I know much about the technicalities, they do provide an excellent backbone to a track that sounds like it travels around on the back of a woolly mammoth with fire in it's eyes. Just a well crafted tune, that showcases what Nirvana is truly capable of when they weren't trying to be the Pixies.

1. "Everlong" - Foo Fighters

When I saw Rob had "Everlong" on his list I knew where I would end up. It was #1 on the list I did before and it's #1 here. Dave Grohl gets the #1 & 2 spot. There ya go eh. "Everlong" is a masterpiece, excellent pacing and cadence. High energy love song that never really lets up...only enough to let you catch your breath before diving right back into it. The best song of the 90's? Yup

There ya go! I had a blast sorting through someone else's favourite songs

Drop me a line if you want to be the next guest blogger!

Until the next time!


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