I can’t believe we are now entering the Top 25 of our list but it seems to be true… Enjoy this new chunk of “five”.
25. Elliott Smith
from : Omaha, Nebraska, USA / first great sounds : 90’s / style : “White Album” kind of songs / essential albums : Either/Or (1997) , XO (1998), Figure 8 (2000)
Eternal sadness… That is the feeling one gets when thinking about how talented and emotion-driven Elliott Smith was and how his death at too young an age of 34 was a real waste. Elliott Smith started on the music in post-grunge band Heatmiser before soon realizing he should express himself solo. His first LP’s were excellent but he really took a step higher with the three-above mentioned albums which you can listen to again and again. His style was a kind of beautiful post-grunge folk with lots of Beatles influences. I had been lucky enough to see him live but the most awkward and surreal moment of his career was probably when he went singing “Miss Misery” during the 1998 Oscar awards Ceremony as he had been nominated for best song for the Gus Van Sant movie “Good Will Hunting“.
24. Kanye West
One could easily describe Kanye West as a self-oriented egocentric man in a music business far out from this blog’s world. Well, this might be partly true but Kanye West is far more than this. First, he has been famous in the hip hop business for a long time through his production skills. Second, he his a genuine music fan and amazingly had-working man, having many projects under his banner. Third, his own music is amazing in sounds, energy, styles but moreover in sensitivity. Listen again if not done yet to our 2010 record of the year and show me a better piece of music made in the last ten years…
I was in my early twenties when the Nirvana wave happened, was a real fan of the band…but never saw them live, making it one the great disappointment of my musical life. The story is quite known : young talented musician gets a totally unexpected success, hass constant stomach pains, falls heavily into drug addiction and does not manage to go over his pain of living such a life. But please go beyond the myth : at first, Kurt Cobain was one of us punk and pop rock fans (as can be read in his diaries where he used to do hundreds of lists about his love of such good bands as Young Marble Giants, The Marine Girls, The Meat Puppets, etc…). And Nirvana’s music ! What a never-ending pleasure (and let’s not forget the roles of Krist Novoselic on bass and the mighty future Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl on drums) and what songs !
22. Teenage Fanclub
from : Glasgow, Scotland / first great sounds : 80’s / style : Pop rock with an edge / essential albums : Bandwagonesque (1991), Grand Prix (1995), Songs from Northern Britain (1997)
Probably the less famous band in our Top 25, Teenage Fanclub has been a constant pleasure for more than two decades now. This is a band of three songwriters and singers (Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley and Gerard Love – what great names!) and their music has been a mix of American power pop (hello Big Star) but with a strong Northern Britain sensitivity and a love for Neil Young-ish guitar solos. Does not it sound like heaven ? Well, it is indeed and you should really dig into their music production as their songs are really amazing.
from : Athens, Georgia, USA / first great sounds : 80’s / style : the American Smiths / essential albums : Murmur (1983), Reckoning (1984), Fables of the Reconstruction (1985), Lifes Rich Pageant (1986), Document (1987), Automatic for the People (1992)
Buck, Berry, Mills, Stipe. Athens, Georgia. Yes, I spent hours when I was young reading these names in magazines and LP’s covers’ notes. R.E.M. and The Smiths were really our bands in the 80’s, meaning they were ones of the few to give guitars and poetry in a world where money, fame and inauthenticity were the rules to follow (can I hear anyone saying what’s the difference with now?). All members were keys of course in the band but one has to admit that what made the band different from the pack was on one side the words and great voice of Michael Stipe and on the other side the rock jiggling guitars sounds created by Peter Buck, a man who knows quite well the history of rock’n’roll ! I recently listened again to all their albums thanks to a specific issue of Uncut and (re)discovered the perfection of their first albums on the label I.R.S., making this first period their moment in time. They aged quite gracefully but lost a lot when drummer Bill Berry chose to stop at the end of the 90’s. Thanks guys anyway for such fantastic music and live shows!