“What is the internet, anyway?”
Bryant Gumbel not only does not know what the internet is, he doesn’t know what an @ is. This video was quite a hilarious find… even if it is off camera. Gumbel seems to think it could be a troublesome new development (back in 1994).
But internet connections are not what 1994 will be remembered by. Besides lots of great music and movies, the one event that many will refer to is the suicide of Kurt Cobain. I certainly remember the moment, and one of my co-workers called my house and let me know (since I was pretty out of touch without cable or internet for most of the year in the boondocks). I remember my reaction being rather dreadful and filled with disbelief. The similarity of the feeling was not unlike finding out about 9/11. It certainly left its mark on a generation.
Having graduated high school in 1994, I must say it was a great time to be a teenager. Many classic albums of the 90’s were from ’94… Portishead’s ‘Dummy’ is obviously one of them. Here is a live performance of “Wandering Star” in ’94:
Chris Farley certainly qualified as a “wandering star”:
At the time most of Farley’s humor and antics seemed pretty funny, but looking back at his herky jerky motions and uncomfortable behavior explain Conan’s worried reactions in this clip. Farley went out of this earth on a mammoth multi-day binge that was another top story in 1994. A toxic cocktail few could comprehend or even imagine was his demise. The sad case of Chris Farley (I still sort of have some animosity towards David Spade, who seemed to be his best friend).
Another archetypal 90’s album is ‘The Downward Spiral’. The way this album sounds is both disturbing and primal as well as progressive and futuristic; it even has the illustrious Adrian Belew on it. An entire blog post could be written about this album, but suffice it to say it had a unique and cohesive vision (carried over even into the live performance with film projections). Many aspects of lo-fi can be heard, but ultimately it is a high end studio production. There’s even someone dedicated to programming and continuity.
Another important industrial/metal album arrived in ’94, but ‘Selfless’ is both more metal and not as self-absorbed as Reznor’s vision (but unfortunately, nowhere near as popular). Justin K. Broadrick is just about the opposite type of rock star… one who shuns the spotlight and who has a much different personality. Think perhaps, more wise and enlightened. Godflesh simply is not as catchy or going for the same effect as NIN. It is even more primal, yet a more controlled sound. (noise and chaos meet structure).
Still one of the heaviest albums I’ve ever heard. That guitar sound is like Prong’s ‘Cleansing’ (also 1994) on growth hormones. Also no one knows how to make a drum machine sound so good. If you are not familiar with J.K. Broadrick’s work, and are open minded about heavy music, I suggest getting ‘Selfless’ ASAP.
Helmet are a band pretty similar to Godflesh in some ways (catchy, machine like riffs and rhythms) but for whatever reason became much more popular. Instead of an industrial/isolationist angle, they had more of a music school background. They too had a singular creative force in Page Hamilton, but you could tell it was more about the band as a whole with Helmet (also why I don’t like the newer stuff much). Citing jazz as well as punk and metal as an influence, they were in full swing by 1994 with ‘Betty’. Not to mention, it is funny to remember a John Stewart show that had little to no political satire.
Yet another classic 90s album released in ’94: ‘For Your Own Special Sweetheart’:
Still one of my favorite albums overall, and each song sounds a lot different (while still being obviously a Jawbox song). One of the traits of a great band… also this album is Jawbox’s masterpiece. This album is a soundtrack for the mid 90’s in my own subjective viewpoint, driving around the QC area.
My favorite album from 1994 is ‘Welcome to Sky Valley’ by Kyuss. While I can’t claim to have been into Kyuss when I was at community college, this is still one of my top albums of all time. Rock and roll that is immense, dense and crushing with masterful songwriting and a unique voice. Sometimes I wish Homme hadn’t left and they put out another album or 3.
Also, Acid Bath released ‘When the Kite String Pops’ in ’94. One of the catchiest AND heaviest albums in many a heavy metal collection.
I highly suggest this album to anyone remotely interested in heavy metal or dark, absurd humor and twisted observations. One of the more unique and talented heavy metal bands, Acid Bath are oddly overlooked, even with increased popularity among metalheads and Dax Riggs’ Deadboy and the Elephantmen and solo material featuring a lot more acoustic sounds.
There are lots of great albums from 1994. This is the first year I have blogged about where I get the feeling that I could go on for days rambling about great albums. But I’ll conclude with Failure, who I have more recently been getting into. All 3 of their albums are very good examples of a mix of catchy and heavy.
Also, I’ve failed to make this a regular blog which was my intent. Doing the year long posts is pretty time consuming, however (and, summer!). Now that summer is gone, and once these are done (only 1995 through 2012 to finish!), Xenochrony will be delivered on a more regular basis, one review or perhaps an editorial, at a time.