While it will always be known as the year of Green Day’s Dookie (and rightfully so), 1994 was far grittier, funnier and weirder than the Billboard charts would let on.
Here’s a list of four albums you might have forgotten about or never heard of to begin with, but that should be equally celebrated this year as they round respectively into their 20thanniversary.
Grant Lee Buffalo:Mighty Joe Moon—September 20, 1994
Grant Lee Buffalo’s first major-label album didn’t seem promising at first—a little known Los Angeles trio trying its hand at New Age alternative, vintage folk and blues metal guitar. ButMighty Joe Moonwould become an instant cult classic, hosting a 13-song compilation mix of guitar ballads and stark punk rock that takes listeners on a journey from the giddy, puppy love, to heart-crushing despair, and back to hopeful optimism. It’s the perfect pre-made mix tape.
Key tracks: “Drag”, “Honey Don’t Think”.
Sebadoh:Bakesale—August 23, 1994
The ‘90s opened the floodgates to innovation and invention, resulting in a spew of silly and mute genres—and of them, lo-fi may be one of the most misunderstood. But Sebadoh, with backing support from the likes of Guided By Voices, really did pioneer a whole new style of music, fusing together the playful emotive vibes of Buddy Holly with the distorted guitars and blown amps of the Velvet Underground. Today, Sebadoh’s art- guitar fuzz has spread to all corners of pop and rock, inspiring some of today’s top acts, including Best Coast and Speedy Ortiz.
Key tracks: “Skull”, “Not Too Amused”.
Suede:Dog Man Star—October 10, 1994
The darling rock princes of London, Suede claimed Britpop and glam rock as its own playground in 1994 with more ambitious flair and personality than any artist or group. Suede really had it all: songwriting skills, sexual innuendos, wisecracks and sugary vocals. They also had guitar master, Bernard Butler, in what would mark his last hoorah before leaving the group indefinitely. They were just a group of blokes out to conquer the world—and they did so with this artfully crafted grand synth-pop opera.
Key tracks: “Heroine”, “My Dark Star”.
Jawbreaker:24 Hour Revenge Therapy—February 15, 1994
“This is my condition: naked and hysterical,” cries out Jawbreaker’s lead vocalist, Blake Schwarzenbach on “Condition Oakland”, the mid-point of the group’s third LP.
Well, as it turns out, a mid-life crisis can serve both as excellent motivation and great artistic inspiration. Channeling his inner turmoil, rage and hysteria, Schwarzenbach and his team produced this 11-song electrical noise storm that features epically sweeping guitar hooks and tampered-down dissonance, setting the stage for the early days of post-rock emo. If Jawbreaker is never to return, “24 Hour Revenge Therapy” was enough. Thank you.
Key tracks: “Boxcar”, “In Sadding Around”