Through many polls and surveys, it is conducted that 1994 was perhaps the last (as of yet) important year for music.
An industry poll made for Rolling Stone magazine showed that 1994 may indeed have been the best year for music. Whether or not we like these albums, I think, is irrelvant. We are talking about their relevance in musical history.
Jeff Buckley Grace
Dogman – King’s X
Whiskey For The Holy Ghost – Mark Lanegan
Cleansing – Prong
Jar Of Flies – Alice In Chains
Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain – Pavement
Troublegum – Therapy?
The Donward Spiral – Nine Inch Nails
Superunknown – Soundgarden
Far Byond Driven – Pantera
The Division Bell – Pink Floyd
Smash – The Offspring
Live Through This – Hole
Illmatic – Nas
Parklife – Blur
Johnny Cash – American Recordings (I)
Live – Throwing Copper
Diary – Sunny Day Real Estate
Weezer – Weezer
Ill Communication – Beastie Boys
Purple – Stone Temple Pilots
Split – Lush
Let’s Go – Rancid
Viva Zapata – 7 Year Bitch
Welcome To Sky Valley – Kyuss
Music for The Jilted Generation – The Prodigy
Hungry For Stink – L7
Burn My Eyes – Machine Head
Dummy – Portishead
The Holy Bible – Manic Street Preachers
Stranger Than Fiction – Bad Religion
Ready To Die – Notorious B.I.G.
Monster – REM
No Need To Argue – The Cranberries
Korn – Korn
Nirvana – MTV Unplugged In New York
TLC – CrazySexyCool
Vitalogy – Pearl Jam
With this list (and there are more), I think it’s objectively possible to combine all these different albums and realize that pretty much everything that came after them, to this day (in their respective genres) might owe something to them, whether the artists were conscious of it or not.
One thing is sure: as far as rock music was concerned, this may have been the last great year to this day.
Sure, there have been landmark albums since then.
In 1994, Radiohead has released neither OK Computer or Kid A (two great albums that I sometimes wish did not exist if only for the very high amount of attemped bullshit copies made by musicians who, it seems, could only transpose this to the same 4 chords).
My purpose here is not an attempt to revisit the past and say that music as we know it is dead and blah blah blah in my days we used to ride the horse to school.
What I’m interested in is what contemporary music means.
When I started this website, I thought it’d be cool to review shows, meet the bands, and write about it. And it was. But man was it a disillusion.
It’s a known fact that anyone who can hit Enter on their keyboard now has the capacity to make an album (yes, I am exaggerating) . But what does that mean for live music? How do you present yourself in front of the people that really want to hear you play? Usually, it’s pretty fucking dull. Records don’t sell, so people try to do anything they can in a live show to stick out.
Well, in the last year, the real musicians that I met that were tried and true limited themselves to being Davila 666, Wooden Shjips, Frank Turner, And also Future Islands, because the singer made his indie-rock-electronic project turn into a total shambolic mess, and you can blame the drugs – but seriously, when you can turn a soft song’s vocals into cocaine-fueled death metal…there’s just something very rock n roll about it. Blame the drugs or don’t, whatever, I’m not criticizing, I’m pointing out that at least they provided a live experience worth remembering.
I could say the same about Deer Tick. That’s honest-to-God rock n roll. It felt like what I read about Neil Young‘s early to mid seventies period was presenting itself in front of me.
My point, dear reader, is that I think we’re onto something good this year. Music as product is a cliche I am tired of hearing because quite honestly, some of the so-called product music I actually really like. Yup, I like Rihanna.
A good song is a good song. Label it what you will.
Yet, the music that first spoke to me as a kid was rock n roll. I dare to put a label on this type of music that can regroup at once…..country, soul, r&b, etc….
The expression of musicians just doing what they do best: playing music. That’s rock n roll. Oh, they have different labels for it now – and quite honestly looking at the current musical landscape, the scene that currently best represents what rock n roll stood for, I think, is electronic music.
In the last 15 years, is there no style of music that could have given less of a shit about how it presented itself, while being self-conscious (that’s rock n roll, aint it? Spend an hour making yourself look like you just got out of bed) than electronic music? Makes sense, the way technology has evolved, makes you not have to hit the same guitar pedal over again.
Ok, so there is still interesting music out there, rock isn’t dead and punk did not lie to us.
We are left with a very basic principle?
What about rock ‘n roll?
You know, not the style, but the 4 guys playing guitars, bass and drums?
What about them?
Rock n roll for the last 15 years has been a rehash of 1994, hasn’t it?
More and more, record labels see that the way they can survive is by repressing originals, remastering them, throwing in a bonus dvd, sticker, pin, sample of blood, used condom, WHATEVER MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE THE REAL EXPERIENCE.
What started out as an apparent cash grab through hipsters is apparently paying off? Been to an HMV lately? Nope, they all closed down and the music section could easily be renamed to ”HERE’S WHAT WE USED TO SELL”.
Instead, your local mom and pop store stocking vinyls which were at first just a way to get by, became popular again. Now, people seem to actually care about how their music sounds and want it in the best possible format possible to be able to *gasp* fucking listen to it the way it was meant to be heard as opposed to background music.
Ok, so what does this mean for current music, what does this means for 2013, and how the hell does this relate to 1994?
Well, for one, 2012 was the first year since the year 1999 that music sales went up. Rock N Roll is dwelling in nostalgia in a way that makes me very excited. With bands as diverse as The Gaslight Anthem, and more recently what Dave Grohl has done with Sound City, there is finally, after a long absence, a thirst for rock n roll.
It seems like an invitation with open arms to bands new and old, to jump back on this musical ship of fools, and learn to once again, have fun through music. Fun, something that most music has not been in a very long time.
Queens Of The Stone Age, David Bowie, My Bloody Valentine, Black Sabbath... (at this point, I think we can include QOTSA in this) are only part of the handful of bands set to release new material this year – with some already released.
10 years ago, every bar you went to was playing ironic 80s music. Look what happened, we have synth-pop, folk-dance, cabaret-ham, electro-indie-in E minor”… We’re rehashing the 80s though most bands apparently have never heard of Ultravox and still base their findings on the dynamic of Kid A.
1994 turned into a joke, it was a great year that only has its own greatness to blame: pale imitators came along and made this great music seem typical.
2013 may be the year where 1994 becomes fresh again. The wealth of bands coming back , working hard on new material seem, at the very least, to be a sort of call with open arms any new bands that can follow.