Quick List: 4 Great Alternative Songwriters from the 90s Not Named Billy Corgan

Last month, Billy Corgan said he and Kurt Cobain were “the top two scribes [of the scene] and everyone else was a distant third.”  I’m assuming he was talking about alternative rock in the Seattle/Chicago sense.  Here are 4 other great 90s songwriters not usually lumped into the sub-genre Corgan is talking about.

1. Glen Philips.  The lead singer and primary songwriter for Toad the Wet Sprocket. I got to see the reunited Toad this past summer, and they were excellent.  Pick up their compilation of re-recorded greatest hits, All You Want, and be happy: it will be one of the best music purchases you make this year.

2. Jeff Mangum.  While the Smashing Pumpkins gave us The Aeroplane Flies High in 1996, Mangum’s Neutral Milk Hotel gave us In The Aeroplane Over the Sea and invented indie rock as we know it.

3. Stuart Murdoch.  The leader of Belle & Sebastian.  Pick up Push Barman to Open Old Wounds (which Blender called “25 charming tales of shy girls dabbling in photography and bookish boys dabbling in shy girls“) for an exquisite collection of Murdoch’s mid-to-late 90s oeuvre.

4. Noel Gallagher.  Oasis’ two finest, awesomest, greatest albums where recorded right in the middle of the epic mid-90s.  Bono says Noel’s new record, due March 2,  is amazing.

 

 

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Rainn Wilson Catches Me Off-Guard

Last night, someone said “Wonderwall is 17 years old.  Doesn’t that make you feel old?”

Nah. I was so much older then.  It turns out you’re never as old as you think, and years are way shorter than you’re able to see.

And then Rainn Wilson had to go and screw it all up.

For some reason, 1996 is one of my all-time favorite years.  Just something about it.

Chuck Klosterman on Noel Gallagher; Me and “Be Here Now”

Cover of "Be Here Now"

Brilliant.

I somehow missed this Klosterman/Gallagher Grantland interview from last fall but Noel’s in great form as usual.  Timely for our purposes in the context of my recent suggestion, prompted by a Klosterman quote, that Axl Rose and Noel Gallagher cut some tracks together. A.V. Club’s Steven Hyden explores the place of Be Here Now in the Gallagher cannon given Noel’s suggestion that we play his career in reverse for an alternate narrative of artistic expectation.

Hyden gets close to saying what I’ve been saying for a while:  Be Here Now is going to be one of those albums that people come back to and say, it’s not the first two Oasis albums, but it’s pretty great.  It’s who they were then, and it’s who we, the people who loved it, were, too.  Definitely Maybe and Morning Glory were almost perfect.  Be Here Now was a victory lap that may have misfired, but it was a hell of a lot of fun, and it made sense that the biggest band in the world (“the first post-grunge band to be massive in every way,” as Klosterman says) act the part.  And they did.  And that record got me through my senior year of high school.  I’ll always love it.

Axl Rose and Noel Gallagher Should Totally Make An Album Together

Kevin Craft on Guns N’ Roses’ softer side.   Chuck Klosterman quote I take issue with:   “[November Rain is] probably the most unpunk video ever made.”

On the contrary.  Taking GNR epic was the most punk rock thing Axl Rose could have done.  November Rain is brilliant.  And Estranged? Slash emerging from the ocean like Venus?  Axl making him do it? Dolphins flying down Sunset Strip?  Are you kidding me?  Let’s not miss the sheer bravado of it all.  Call it sincerity, call it the be more awesome school of postmodern art, but don’t call it unpunk.  It’s punk to the core.  It’s the antithesis of expectation, it’s the aggrandizement of personal narrative.  It’s late 90’s Oasis six years before Be Here Now.   Noel Gallagher’s new High Flying Birds is great, but it doesn’t make me want to leap tall buildings in a single bound the way Be Here Now did and does. The way “November Rain” and “Estranged” do.  Illusion I and II aren’t Appetite For Destruction.    Be Here Now and Don’t Believe the Truth aren’t (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? or High Flying Birds.   They shouldn’t be.

Axl had the epic stuff in mind from the start.  Noel wrote “All Around the World” before most of the tracks on Definitely Maybe.  Like Axl’s Illusion albums, Be Here Now was hotly anticipated, quickly adopted, and eventually scorned.  But you wait and see: there’s going to be bare-bones-band-to-epic-arrangement revival.   I and will lead it.  On Spotify.