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Great Albums From The Last 20 Years: “1996”

We are just over the halfway point in the 90s, it’s 1996 and this year brought us wide range of great music. Some albums on this list went down as “fan favourites” rather than “critics choice” and we also saw proven acts looking to stay relevant by continuing to evolve their sound. These albums are in no particular order and are just a few of the great albums from 1996.

Neutral Milk Hotel On Avery Island
This is the first full length studio album Neutral Milk Hotel released and it follows their 1994 debut EP, Everything Is. The album consists of 12 songs, but the UK version of the record features 2 bonus tracks “Everything Is” and “Snow Song Pt. 1”.These tracks were allegedly taken from their EP without the permission of the groups lead singer Jeff Mangum. There is also difference between the vinyl and the CD copies, the digital copy of “Pree-Sisters Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye” is over 13 minutes long, but it appears on the vinyl as just over 3 minutes. This record is the prequel to the record, In An Aeroplane Over The Sea, that would later become a cult classic and one of the most revered indie LP’s ever.

Rage Against The Machine – Evil Empire
Rage Against The Machine Evil Empire
After nearly 4 years of touring their self titled debut album, Rage Against The Machine released their 2nd full length effort, Evil Empire on April 16th, 1996. Evil Empire debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and 3 separate songs from the album were nominated for a Grammy, with “Tire Me” coming out on top in the Best Metal Performance category. Being no strangers to publicly voicing their political opinions ‘Rage’ frontman Zack de le Rocha said the album got its title from “Ronald Reagan’s slander of the soviet union in the 80s”. The album’s 5 singles were: “Year Of Tha Boomerang”, “Bulls On Parade”, “People Of The Sun”, “Down Rodeo” and “Vietnow”. On May 24th of 2000 the album had officially reached triple platinum status.

Modest Mouse – This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About
This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About, is the album that started the career of Modest Mouse. The album was released with both a CD and vinyl option, but the vinyl included two extra songs “Edit The Sad Parts” and “A Manic Depressive Called Laughing Boy”. “Edit The Sad Parts” ended up being included on the bands next record while “A Manic Depressive Called Laughing Boy” was only available through their vinyl. A big theme throughout the record is the loneliness and isolation that can come from rural life and traveling.

Beck – Odelay
On June 18th, 1996, Beck released one of his most successful records, Odelay. The album peaked at #16 on the Billboard 200 chart and managed to sell over 2 million copies in the US alone. It was also a hit in the UK as well, reaching certified platinum status. The album had 5 singles, including the big 3: “Devils Haircut”, “Where It’s At” and “The New Pollution”. Odelay was accepted well from both critics and fans, and the album found it’s way on the numerous best of lists, including the number 9 spot in Rolling Stone’s Top 100 albums of the 90s.

Sloan – One Chord To Another
Sloan One Chord
There were rumours surrounding the band about a possible break up due to trouble with Geffen Records during the Twice Removed days. The band got back to business in 1995 and released One Chord to Another on June 12th, 1996. The record went certified gold in Canada and won a 1997 Juno award for Best Alternative Album. The record featured 12 songs, with the 4 singles being “The Good in Everyone”, “Everything You’ve Done Wrong”, “The Lines You Amend” and “G Turns To D”.

Weezer – Pinkerton
Pinkerton is the follow up to Weezer’s huge debut record, The Blue Album (Weezer). Weezer’s original plans for their 2nd release was to make a space-themed rock opera entitled, “Songs From The Blackhole”. Those plans were discarded and Pinkerton was born. Most of the record was written and recorded during lead singer Rivers Cuomo’s stints at Havard University. The group decided against hiring a producer in an effort capture their live sound. The album was a commercial disappointment but gained a cult like status amongst Weezer fans, with help from songs like “El Scorcho”.

REM – New Adventures In Hi-Fi
This was the 10th studio album to come from R.E.M. and the 5th to be released through Warner. It was the last record to feature founding member Bill Berry, original manager Jefferson Holt, and long-time producer Scott Lit. The album was recorded both during and after the band’s 1995 Monster tour and managed to combine the country rock feel of Out Of Time with the heavier sound of Monster. A big influence for R.E.M. during this album was Canadian icon Neil Young’s 1973 release, Time Fades Away. A few of the record’s singles included: “E-Bow the Letter”, “Bittersweet Me”, “Electrolite” and “How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us”. New Adventures In Hi-Fi landed the #4 spot on Rolling Stones year end best of list for 1996.

Belle and Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister
If You’re Feeling Sinister was the 2nd album from Belle and Sebastian and was released through indie label Jeepster in the UK and Matador Records in the US. Upon its release the album gained critical praise, and frontman Stuart Murdoch stated throughout interviews that the record was probably his best collection of songs. The band went on to drop a live version of the album entitled If You’re Feeling Sinister: Live at the Barbican via iTunes Store. Pitchfork named the record #14 on the their best albums of the 90s list and Spin magazine had it at #59 on their list of the 125 best albums of the last 25 years.

Jimmy Eat World – Static Prevails
Static Prevails was the second album released from Jimmy Eat World and dropped on July 23rd, 1996. The album consisted of 12 songs yet only one single, “Rockstar”, was released. The reception from critics wasn’t great and it was rumoured that Capitol Records forced their songs to lack maturity, for more poppy, radio friendly material.

At The Drive In – Acrobatic Tenement
The debut record from At The Drive In was released following a weird string of events that actually had the band broken up before its release. The album didn’t feature any radio singles, or any singles for that matter, but gained the group a cult following. The album was re-released two separate times, once in 2005, and again earlier this year through fearless records. Only one of the songs from Acrobatic Tenement made it on to their 2005 compilation album, This Station Is Non-Operational. The song “Initiation” landed on the record as a BBC live recording.

Check out the rest of the years: https://indie88.com/tag/1993-2013

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