Art is how we decorate space, Music is how we decorate time

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Drive Year: 1991


My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
Without question one of the best and most important “alternative rock” albums ever released, one that holds a permanent place in my all-time list. Gorgeously (and bafflingly) complex guitar soundscapes wedded to gauzy and etherial lyrics, produce a melange of psychedelia, pop, rhythm, and well-controlled chaos. Some of the more subtle moments of genius are best revealed at very high volumes (more so than anything else I’ve listened to), which I suspect has long-term contributed to my hearing ‘issues’. 15/10, would listen all-day every-day!

Nirvana – Nevermind
There was before Nevermind, and there was after Nevermind. Everything changed. Suddenly the airwaves were (seemingly spontaneously) filled with the crashing loud-soft anthems of Cobain and Co. All these years later the irony, truth, and ‘fuck the man’ reality ring true. I am immediately transferred back to those times….

Matthew Sweet – Girlfriend/Goodfriend
Absolutely one of my all-time favorite albums. A gorgeous power-pop masterpiece packed to the rim with delightful harmonies, creative (yet simple) arrangements, some raging anger, a touch of hopefulness and some of the best G-D guitar ever put to record. The ‘companion’ release Goodfriend is just as great (better?) with some ripping live versions and a couple classic covers.

De La Soul – De La Soul Is Dead
Loaded up with hooks, intelligence, snarkiness, truth, and powerhouse rhythyms De La Soul Is Dead is loaded with top-notch hip-hop with a big brain. Maybe the best hip-hop skits ever laid down (although they’re still dumb), this record is a classic – and with great reason.

Teenage Fanclub – Bandwagonesque
A truly classic power-pop gem that stands up not only to anything released in 1991, but against any power-pop album ever released. Enough complexity to worm it’s way permanently into the brain, but straightforward enough to jump right out and infect your feet/hips/ears.

Cypress Hill – Cypress Hill
Perhaps the most fun re-listen on the list. Crazy beats, sophomoric lyrics about smoking week and shooting holes in people, and the iconic vox styles. Not sure when I would listen to this, but it was damn fun this time around…


Smashing Pumpkins – Gish
Always felt this was their best album (still do). Raw, interesting and mildly ‘avant’, it stood out from the dirge-metal version of “grunge” that was all the rage at the time – until Nevermind came out 6 months later and took ALL the acclaim (justifiably…)

Mudhoney – Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
Another romping garage-grunge ‘classic of the genre’. Full of piss-and-vinegar this album takes no prisoners with it’s in-your-face sonic assault.

Smithereens – Blow Up
Quite a fun album of “catchy, blue-collar power pop”, which was a bit out-of-time. I enjoyed the heck out of this album, and still have a (Pavlovian?) response thinking about all the make-out-sessions around this record…

A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory
Classic, seminal jazz-fused hip-hop. The way Q-Tip and Phife play off each other so uniquely and with such complimentary flow and style is awesome. I never listen to much hip-hop/rap, but I’ll always pause for a Low End track.

Ministry – Jesus Built My Hotrod single
Such a great song, released in late 1991. Still a blast to hear, maybe even some repeated loud listens…


Temple of the Dog – Temple of the Dog
Sounds exactly like what it is – a “Seattle supergroup” mashup of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Super solid and fun listen.

Primal Scream – Screamadelica
When a rock band hits the rave scene, this happens… It’s all a bit too ‘clubby’ for me, but there are some really great spots.

Massive Attack – Blue Lines
It’s hard to recall now how out-of-the-blue this sound was in ’91, and it certainly helped shape some of what I loved to listen to in years to come. A fun yet dark Brit take on American hip-hop incorporating jazz and soul with dancey dub beats, but with a vibe more introspective than splashy. Nothing to really draw me back to it, I think this goes back into storage, with it’s memory glow a bit enhanced.

Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger
So “grunge” you can taste it. This is the album “the kids” should listen to for an understanding of what grunge really sounded like. While it’s mean and lean and kicks ass all over the place – it still doesn’t really warrant relistening. But DAMN was it fun at the time…

U2 – Achtung Baby
Another before/after album from 1991… This one features U2’s move from “emotional, jingoist revolutionaries” to “avant-weird pop stars”. Most of Achtung Baby is compelling, with an intriguing sprinkling of beats, odd-noises, and mystery. Inevitably many will feel this is where U2 lost their way; While others will feel this is where they finally found it.

Pearl Jam – 10
One off the all-time best-rated and most liked alternative rock albums. Also an album that I don’t care for at all. Too “radio grunge” for me, even today.

Sebadoh – III
This was never a favorite Sebadoh release for me, and that remains true after all these years. While there are some moments of genius here (both pulled from the past as well as looking forward) overall the album suffers greatly from it’s internal turmoil – which might also be what makes the good stuff great. Songs seem unfinished, and what could be lo-fi ‘honesty’ instead sounds lackluster. Earlier OR later Sebadoh is better, IMO.

King Missile – The Way to Salvation
Silly avant-rock outing I’d term “good not great”. They lost a little of their warmth moving to a major, and it cost them. Nothing as fun as “Jesus was way cool” or even “Detachable penis”. Fun listen, but start somewhere else if you’re investigating King Missile…

R.E.M. – Out of Time
At the time, this was a major sonic “step up” for R.E.M. in their first major label release (back when this mattered). No longer a lo-fi ‘college rock’ cult band, newfound experimentation in lyricism and instrumentation, this album stands up with some classic tracks (and some rear-mirror duds)

Throwing Muses – The Real Ramona
A fine indie-pop/rock outing from Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donelly. Little here to force a relisten, but an enjoyable time nonetheless

Young Fresh Fellows – Electric Bird Digest
Very, very, very fun take on power-pop. Injected with humor and a don’t-take-it-too-serious attitude. One of my fave concert moments of all time came from this album (thx Berkeley Square and that bag of ‘shrooms)

Live – Four Songs EP
A very solid burst-onto-the-scene EP with 4 solid tracks, all of which would reappear later.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik
The album that cemented RHCP as a mainstream rock band, for better or worse. The sound is more open, less gritty, and has (at least a little) emotional heft. (For my money this is also when RHCP stopped being interesting…)

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – Into The Great Wide Open
Not something I was too dialed into at the time, but it was (and is) a well-paced radio-ready rocker. The big hits touch some fun nostalgia buttons, but alas nothing truly ‘sticky’.

various – Brazil Classics 3: Forro etc.: Music of the Brazilian Northeast
Fun adventure in Brazil via the Luaka Bop label. Not the best in the set, but a fun listen (and a nice trip down memory lane)

Outback – Dance the Devil Away
A nice “world music” listen. I was somewhat obsessed (for some reason) back in the day. #didgeridooordie


Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I & II
Perhaps the perfect album to highlight all the fucking idiocy called ‘hard rock’ at the time. Both albums are disastrously bloated and convoluted exercises in excess. The occasional decent song is swallowed alive by the piles of steaming shit littered all around the album. At the time I was more than happy to see the dumb “hair rock” get clobbered by the (relatively) wimpy Nirvana – a sentiment that still holds.


Not listened to, despite best intentions….

Slint – Spiderland
Operation Ivy – Energy



Notes: This Drive Year was one long flashback. Almost every record here holds a ton of great memories, both emotional and physical. I made it very deep into the list, and had a really great time doing so.

Drive Year: 1991 happened in June 2019








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