Pavement’s last album had some serious back catalogue competition. The Nigel Godrich-produced Terror Twilight may not be their best, but it was really good and it featured ‘Spit On A Stranger’. Have a great week.
GBV! GBV! Fans of Guided By Voices will be over the moon that Bob Pollard and pals have released their first double album August By Cake this year, 30 years after their first record. To mark the moment, I feature one of the band’s more accessible tracks; the classic ‘Hold On Hope’ from their 1999 album Do The Collapse. Have a great week.
Ágætis Byrjun was the breakthrough album by our favourite Icelandic prog rocksters Sigur Rós. It was released in 1999 and critical acclaim ensued. Electronic, dreamy, ambient and instrumentally artistic, ‘Starálfur’ was one its many standout moments. It made everyone want to go Beyond The Wall and stare at the geysers.
In the lead up to its release in 1999, The Magnetic Fields’ behatted frontman Stephin Merritt must have pored over his romantic and lustful memories to create the opus 69 Love Songs. From somewhere near the front end of this longest of players, ‘The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side’ sounds like the love child production of Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon.
Released as the first single off the Remedy album, ‘Red Alert’ was Basement Jaxx’s calling card. It’s a melting pot of electronic sound effects that they brilliantly knit together with a funky bass line pinched off Locksmith’s ‘Far Beyond’, a chorus and some squeals of ecstasy. It defined the dance floor tempo of summer 1999.
In 1999, at the height of the French invasion of dance music, Pépé Bradock did this. ‘Deep Burnt’ is the deepest of house tunes, cooking up Freddie Hubbard’s ‘Little Sunflower’, and laced with oodles of filter disco. The result is hypnotic. Enjoy and have a good week.
In 1997, Mos Def’s partnership with Talib Kweli produced the old school classic Black Star. By 1999, it was another Mos Def partnership that took hip hop by storm. Ayatollah produced his hit ‘Ms. Fat Booty’, the first single off his solo album Black on Both Sides. Mos Def’s humorous gibes are offset by the regal sample of Aretha Franklin‘s ‘One Step Ahead’. Ayatollah was a producer with some crate-digging form. The following year he would find a flip of Gladys Knight & the Pips’ Queen of Tears for Ghostface Killah‘s ‘Wu Banga 101’.
Where to start with Blur… ‘Song 2’, ‘The Universal’, ‘Girls & Boys’. I have plumped for ‘Coffee And TV’. In 1999, their sixth long player 13 felt like a swan song after the much documented troubles within the band. Despite the divergence in musical direction, the missing son of the video, guitarist Graham Coxon, had been able to pull Blur along a new lo-fi Pavement/Beck-inspired path. So the milk carton falls for some strawberry milk, but only for a brief interlude before cruel fate intervenes. Blur would release one more album, Think Tank, in 2003, but do so without Coxon.
‘Drinking in L.A.’ was Bran Van 3000’s first single and it would feature on their long player Glee in the same year. The album was a bizarre amalgam of electronica, techno, hip-hop, lounge and indie. I pick the Canadian collective’s first single for its sample of the classic ‘Gin and Juice’ by Snoop Dogg – that would be reason enough, but this song also has a sound of summer about it. And the sun is back in town! Have a great week everyone.
More Scandinavian bliss – Röyksopp’s ‘So Easy’ was the Norwegian duo’s first single. It would appear on their debut album Melody A.M. The track features the main instrumental from Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s ‘Blue on Blue’, and despite (or because of) the loss of Bobby Vinton’s vocals, Röyksopp came up with one of the most addictive slices of electronica to grace the airwaves.
I See a Darkness by “Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy” was Will Oldham’s sixth album. It was Oldhams’ first album under the ‘Prince’ moniker and the alter-ego released something dark indeed. The title track is a masterclass in despair. The only sign of light is that this man has a friend, who might just be able to see him through the gloom. But that’s about it!
Summerteeth was Wilco’s third album and their first to chart in the UK. Unlike previous releases, the long player was heavily overdubbed in the studio. It was the first sign that Jay Bennett and Jeff Tweedy were taking their americana sound into a more creative place. As a result of perpetual touring, Tweedy’s relationship with his wife was deteriorating. The brilliant ‘She’s A Jar’ ends with the startling lyric “…she begs me not to hit her”. Things were bad; the music was anything but.
A year after Stardust’s ‘Music Sounds Better With You’, Brighton’s Pete Heller delivered a similar blend of disco and heavy house. Big on love, big in gyms and a big reminder of the journey of house music during the 1990s. The video, like many others at that time, was more than happy to explore the dominant style of Daft Punk.