1996 They Might Be Giants is some of my favorite They Might Be Giants. Not solely based off the studio album released that year, Factory Showroom featured here, but rather because this was arguably the height of my TMBG listening days, and simply put, I ingested all that I could handle. Flood was the obvious opener, my first exposure a few years prior, followed by ’94’s John Henry, then a slight detour to 86’s self titled and 92’s Apollo 18, then finally pausing on 96’s Factory Showroom. This was a massive storm of newly discovered music to consume in a short amount of time (remember, this was before the internet and digital downloads, kids). The following year would bring a game-changing double compact disc comp with, Then: The Early Years, and the rest is both a blur, and history. Sadly, I’d fall out of love with the Giants a short handful of years later, but they’ll always hold the deed to a bit of real estate in my heart.
So admittedly, it’s been a while, but I went to pull out Viva! La Woman, Cibo Matto’s debut album on Warner Bros. Records from 1996, and to my dismay, I noticed that my copy is sealed! All those years listening to Viva! and Stereo Type A must have been digitally, come to think of it now. I have zero recollection of any hint of reasoning why I would have kept this classic record sealed, but here it lives, suffocating in time. Now, the question is, obviously, whether to keep this virgin record cocooned, or to free it for the celebratory maiden voyage… Where’s my knife?
Rage’s second album, 1996’s Evil Empire was a (bit) more refined outing when compared to their debut album (that which was released four years earlier), 1992’s Rage Against the Machine. A classic, though not as highly regarded as their debut, Evil Empire recently received the Newbury Comics treatment, with this red colored vinyl pressing of 1200 copies. In any color or limited run, this album is a no-brainer.
This 1996 Cypress Hill event was post III – Temples of Boom, their third studio release, and enveloped a moment in time that was arguably the group’s pinnacle state. At least, that’s what a bunch of us Juniors thought when we went to see them at the Dane County Expo Hall in Madison, Wisconsin. $19.50 for tickets… are you kidding me?! Oh, I forgot to mention that 311 and The Pharcyde were also present… UNDER $20, PEOPLE! $31.74 adjusted for inflation… still an absolute steal!
The Promise Ring’s debut album, 1996’s 30° Everywhere is, was, and will forever be the soundtrack to dark and dreary winter evenings in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Originally released on Jade Tree Records in a variety of colors (blue, grey, red, white, yellow…), this 12-track opus is considered an integral part of emo’s second wave. Most scoff at the term emo, and they’re not necessarily wrong, as the term has ballooned into absurd and embarrassing proportions, but this album, this band, at that time… well, there was little better.
As the self proclaimed “extraterrestrial surgeon from Jupiter,” Dr. Octagon broke into the mid 90’s hardcore hip-hip scene with a few unforgettable singles. 1995’s Earth People, and this, 1996’s 3000. The third single (in no particular order) is Blue Flowers. All tracks were played the other night in downtown Los Angeles, and the event was something of interplanetary amazement.
Arguably Madison, Wisconsin’s most prolific achievement, punkers Naked Aggression barked socialist ideals over light speed rhythms for audiences of couch protesters and pro-choice supporters alike. Though their idea of state smashing and organized religion bashing weren’t new as of the early 1990s, their collective voice has withstood the test of time (a rigged, almost impossible test to pass), and are greatly deserving of a solid, and focused listen.
It’s been a long time coming, 20 years to be exact, and I can honestly say, without a hint of bias or kickback on commission, that Porno for Pyros’ Good God’s Urge is one of the top 5 albums from the 1990s. It’s perfect from start to finish, and still sounds brand-spanking-new to this day. Perry Farrell is a genius.
So, it’s been a bit cooler here in LA lately, though nothing even remotely close to the subzero temps currently inflicting emotional harm on my home state in the Midwest. So, in honor of the frigid nights ahead, we’ll spin Weezer’s 2nd album, Pinkerton. By far their best offering, Pinkerton was once shunned by lead singer Rivers Cuomo (to the point of public apology, if my memory serves me right), but the album has, in the 20 years since its release, been embraced by critics and Cuomo alike. Anyway, wherever you are, stay warm, and spin your records.
As clear as an unmuddied lake, this 2016 reissue (from The Netherlands region) recently popped up in the US Epitaph online store, and was swiftly nabbed by staff here at The Prudent Groove. We now own Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent a total of five times, and the way Epitaph is kicking out short runs of color variants, that number is likely to increase very soon. Although not as prolific as their opus, 1998’s The Shape of Punk to Come, this 1996 precursor couples perfectly to create the uncompromising, one-two, hardcore punk-punch. Epitaph still has copies at the posting of this blurb, so jump on in.
Rumored to have been recorded for only $600, At the Drive-In’s first album, Acrobatic Tenement harnesses the bombastic, melodic shrieks of Drive Like Jehu into a steel-solid collection of instantly-classic, post-hardcore ditties. Originally released by Flipside Records solely on compact disc in 1996, the album didn’t debut on vinyl until this 2013 reissue from Twenty-First Chapter Records, the band’s own label. If you have the stomach for aggressive adventures in and out of post-hardcore shadows, Acrobatic Tenement is certainly not one to miss.
It’s been a while since I ran across a worthy bootleg. Up for grabs is this “unofficial” 7″ from roughly 1996 (the band’s hay day), oddly titled In the White Room (With Black Curtains), because it has absolutely nothing to do with the Cream song, as far as I can tell. What this fool does offer, however, is three, concrete-solid live renditions of Scream Dracula Scream tracks from some British outfit proclaiming Rocket as Hell’s house band. As fitting as it is hilarious, In the White Room is a decent glimpse into overseas admiration, and deserves a home under the roof of any proper garage rock enthusiast.
I’d always loved this label photo, which also doubles as the cover to Money Mark’s Third Version E.P. from 1996. Former carpenters turned keyboard astronauts always tend to nab my undivided attention, as well they should. If you’re in the mood this new year for some downtempo trip hop, the buck stops with Money Mark Nishita.
As an aside, while prepping for this post, I came across a 20th anniversary free download link on Mr. Mark’s official site, so head on over to http://moneymark.com/, drop your email, and enjoy his first album for free!
When anger and rage are your evening companions, a little Maniacal Laughter is certainly in order. Falling under the ever-growing nostalgia umbrella, East Coast pop-punkers The Bouncing Souls returned to the mid-90s middle class punk scene with their sophomore effort, 1996’s nearly perfect Maniacal Laughter. One of my early introductions to the band was this and their first, 1994’s The Good, the Bad & the Argyle, but for me, Maniacal Laughter is much more sophisticated than its predecessor, while still managing to embrace the slick, lighthearted, bratty aura that made them fan favorites all across the world. If you haven’t seen The Bouncing Souls live, you most certainly should. They’re a hell-of-a lot of fun… or, at least they were 20 years ago. We all may be getting older, but we’re never too old for some hearty Maniacal Laughter.
One of my favorite high school jams finally received a vinyl pressing earlier this year, and my copy of Goldfinger’s self titled debut magically arrived at our doorstep yesterday afternoon. Pressed on blue (this), gold, and lavender vinyl, each version was released, as far as I can tell, with a limited run of 500 copies. Unfortunately, Goldfinger’s followup (1997’s Hang-Ups) was nothing short of a disaster (at least for our listening circle), and the band was squarely written off. Listening to this album now, some 19 years later, I’m knocked out by a raging flood of adolescent memories. For those who missed this gem, and are fans of quirky, snarky, pop-punk, get this record!