They Might Be Giants has released 19 studio albums, including one as recently as last year, but their most popular and acclaimed remains 1990’s Flood. The record was the Brooklyn duo’s major label release and featured their two biggest hits, ‘Birdhouse in Your Soul’ and ‘Istanbul (Not Constantinople).’
I’ve always lumped TNBG in with Barenaked Ladies as bands with definite musical chops that toe the line between legitimate artists and novelty acts. I’m a big fan of most Barenaked Ladies albums, but I don’t know anything by They Might Be Giants other than the two hits mentioned above, so I don’t know if my assessment is correct.
After a brief detour through delightful jangle pop territory, 1990 brings back the noise with Fugazi’s Repeater.
The Washington, D.C-based band is described as “post-hardcore,” which basically mean hardcore punk with a little more thought put in. It still sounds like a whole lot of screaming and thrashing to me. I wonder about the mental and emotional state of somebody who finds comfort or release in music like this.
Now this is more my style.
Liverpool-based The La’s released their first and last album in 1990. The self-titled record is one of those you hear described as the best album you’ve never heard of.
The dozen jangle pop songs on The La’s sound like they could have been released three decades earlier, when another group of spunky Liverpudlians were about to take over the world.
I’m traveling back in time to 1990 again this week, with better results, I hope. Last week’s batch of critically-acclaimed albums leaned toward the loud and anti-melodic. Was this pop culture’s reaction to the Reagan years?
Kicking off this week is another loud and anti-melodic album, but one from a group I admire and at least occasionally enjoy. Public Enemy followed up their seminal 1988 album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back with Fear of a Black Planet, another burst of righteous defiance.
I’m currently digging into the albums of 1990, and I’m not very impressed with the selection.
Today’s Random iTunes Weekend selection is a reminder that 1980 was a much stronger year. So strong that Talking Heads’ Remain in Light managed only the third slot on my personal list of favorite 1980 albums.
Only Billy Joel’s Glass Houses (#2) and Elvis Costello’s Get Happy! (#1) topped it, and the Billy Joel pick is a sentimental one. Remain in Light probably deserves the second spot.
John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ (the song) is such a classic that it’s easy to overlook how great Imagine (the album) is, too.
In addition to the iconic title song, you have ‘Jealous Guy,’ ‘Oh Yoko,’ ‘Crippled Inside’ as well as the lesser-known ‘It’s So Hard,’ ‘I Don’t Want to Be a Soldier,’ ‘Oh My Love,’ ‘How?’ and ‘How Do You Sleep?’ That last one is a scathing takedown of Paul McCartney (“those freaks was right when they said you was dead”), which Genius.com calls one of the “first diss tracks” in pop music.
Sonic Youth belongs in a category of classic bands that are just too loud for me to ever get into. I’ve heard nothing but praise for the work of (one-time) married couple Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon but the music I’ve heard is just too damn noisy.
1990’s Goo, the band’s sixth studio album, is one of their most acclaimed (along with its predecessor, 1988’s Daydream Nation. Even so, I don’t hear a lot on it that grabs me.