We gradually adjusted to life in Illinois, and started making new friends there. Through the English department, where Becky was a graduate student, we met Anne and Stewart, Amy and Nigel, Jay and Lauri, and Beth. We were often doing things with one or more of these people, and this took up a large piece of time. It was better being with them, because the novelty of our apartment was starting to wear off and it became a pretty dismal place. It was always cold and the family upstairs was incredibly noisy.
At work things were also not so good. Apex turned out to be an utterly dismal place to work. The boss was a jerk and I had been lied to about the opportunities that would be available to me. I started working there in August of ’93 and by December of that year I had already quit and was working at a computer software distributor. That job turned out to be even MORE miserable, and to this day I still suspect the place was some kind of money-laundering scheme, because I can’t imagine how they went about making money. I watched the career I thought I had dissipate before my eyes, and it brought on another bout of depression.
One positive(?) change for me at this time was discovering the Internet. Becky had an account on the UIUC server, and through that I discovered the wonderful world of email, newsgroups, ftp, and such. (The World Wide Web wasn’t yet what it would come to be.) It was a really neat world for me, especially since I could contact friends elsewhere a lot easier. I briefly tried BBS in Champaign but never found any place I really liked. The Internet, on the other hand, was incredibly exciting to explore.
While its true that my depressed mood at the time colors this collection, the truth is there’s not a lot here to get excited about. It’s all just more of the morose early-90s “testostorock” that was all over the radio.
- Us3 – Cantaloop Flip Fantasia
This is one of the sadder noble failures in pop music. The idea of fusing jazz with hip-hop to appeal to a younger audience was inspired, but the manifestation of this idea was not. This song is fun and peppy, but the rest of the CD was pretty dull, somehow missing the excitement in both genres.
- The Lemonheads – The Great Big No
- Gin Blossoms – Found Out About You
- Soul Asylum – Black Gold
- Belly – Dusted
- Depeche Mode – Walking in My Shoes
- Shriekback – The Bastard Sons of Enoch
- Tool – Swamp Song
- Ultra Vivid Scene – Candida
- The Jesus and Mary Chain – Teenage Lust
There’s a whole lot of going through the motions there. It’s the end of the road for The Lemonheads, as well as a few others.
- Brenda Kahn – I Don’t Sleep, I Drink Coffee Instead
A good song from a great album.
- Matthew Sweet – Time Capsule
The arrival of Altered Beast so soon after I got into Matthew Sweet meant that Girlfriend got pushed aside a bit too early. Incidentally, we also now had cable television, which meant I actually saw some music videos from time to time, including the video for this song, involving Matthew slowly being drawn underground. I kinda knew how he felt.
- The Cranberries – Dreams
What was that movie in the early 90s that had this song in its soundtrack and trailer? Oh, that’s right: all of them.
- Counting Crows – Mr. Jones
This band was touted as the next R.E.M. It was no R.E.M.
- Sugar – If I Can’t Change Your Mind
Apparently Sugar missed out on the previous tape, only to return for this one. I’m not sure what happened there.
- 4 Non Blondes – What’s Up
True fact: the first time I heard this song I thought it was a guy singing it, like some Axl Rose type of falsetto. Boy, a lot of this stuff has not aged well, has it? But you can stop worrying: Blind Melon’s “No Rain” is not on any of these tapes.
- The Breeders – Cannonball
Probably the high point of this particular tape. While Pod didn’t really grab me so much, Last Splash is a lot of fun. In addition to this song being just plain good, it’s firmly attached in my mind to that sketch by The State in which the guy wears pants for the first time.
- R.E.M. – Ignoreland
This is exactly the kind of rousing, outraged, torches-and-pitchforks political song that for some reason R.E.M. decided not to do any more of after this one. During the beginning of the Clinton administration they had this kind of energy and conscience. Where did it go?
This song also ties into the Internet theme here. I quickly found the newsgroup for fans of R.E.M., but also just as quickly discovered that nobody on it was interested in talking about anything except which obscure bootleg recordings they had. After all, anyone could listen to and enjoy the songs on the albums, but it took a True Fan to listen to a muddy third-generation recording from the 70th row of the band covering “Rhinestone Cowboy” in Munich in 1987.
- Pearl Jam – Go
Pearl Jam fans were eagerly awaiting a followup to Ten and got Vs which, frankly, wasn’t very good. In fact, it was downright dull. That and the Planet’s love affair with all things Pearl Jam quickly sapped our interest in the band.
- U2 – Numb
U2 is back with…well, monotonous droning. But I admit, I think it’s an interesting song, probably because it’s downright subtle for a U2 song.
- Machines of Loving Grace – Butterfly Wings
- Rage Against the Machine – Bullet In The Head
GRRAR! RARRG!! HURRGGGG!!! RAAAAARRRRR!!!!
- Nirvana – Rape Me
I was in the pretentious record store, Periscope Records, and someone asked if the new Nirvana album was any good. The girl behind the counter said, “It’s so good! And the best thing about it is, it doesn’t sound at all like Nevermind!” The opening bits of this song (which for all I know are on purpose) beg to differ, ma’am.
- Velvet Crush – Asshole
And then Velvet Crush delivers its strongly-worded yet plaintive message without a single scream or grunt.
This was a reference to the Internet and was a joke between Kurt and I. It was a play on all the “cyber” stuff happening at that time. You’d see tv shows and movies with a character bent over a keyboard and “jacking in”. He’d also usually turn around towards the people behind him and say, ominously, “We’re in.” This is, of course, what the cover illustrates. The “stat” business came from similar things in comic books, where superhero teams were now paramilitary operations that had to, “secure the perimeter, stat!”
Click on the player below to listen to this mix!
(xspf player courtesy Lacy Morrow and Fabricio Zuardi.)