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Throwback Thursday

March 21, 2013
 

’99-’01 – My Era of Awakening

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I’m gonna try a little somethin’ different for a Throwback Thursday. Allow me to share a tale…

Once upon a time, I did not have the best taste in tunes. Although, I sure thought I did. To be completely fair, I wasn’t exactly “terrible.” I was, after all, flying through junior high and high school at the peak of the Nu-metal/Boy Band/Pop-punk/Gangsta rap saturated mid-late 90’s and I soaked in my fair share of crap. Can you blame me? As a reminder to all you kids, back then the internet wasn’t quite the bottomless resource of goodness it is today. The only time the internet told me what to listen to was when someone in a chat room threw me a bone. Usually, said chat roommates would simply aim me in another bad direction altogether anyway. Nossiree – all I really had was MTV, a few [printed] music mags (including a subscription to Rolling Stone) and, to some degree, the radio. I was very impressionable, I had no older siblings, and my resources were limited. My friends and a cousin or two helped on occasion but many of them were as lost as I was (bless their hearts).

Then, one day in early 1999, one of my favorite mediocre but highly entertaining post-grunge bands released a new album that threw me for a loop. It was a complete left turn of an album, one that took the road of artistic integrity at the risk of career suicide. And, though it was very different, I absolutely loved it. I’d had bands change things up on me before, but for the first time in my life, I felt like I truly understood what it meant to take such a risk. And I respected the hell outta that. Just like that, this once mediocre act became my new favorite band.

About a year later, I graduated high school. Almost instantly, a wave of enlightenment hit me that I reverently refer to as my “Era of Awakening.” Twas a relatively short time – technically only a year, but I like to include the aforementioned band of ’99, so you could say two. What made this brief period so influential for me? Well first of all, most people would agree that shedding the superficiality of high school life and culture can be very invigorating. I also happened to hit this stage as the digital era was set to boom, so I suddenly found myself with some incredible new resources to feed the growing need. It was an amazing time to get existential. One of the most exciting, terrifying, emotional, and beautiful years of my life, and I had some incredible tunes soundtracking it. To cap it all off, I embarked on a two-year mission at the end of 2001. This is important because, like an addict going cold turkey, I was cut off from the good stuff thus forcing my mind to obsess over the music of this era. You know when you get a song stuck in your head and the only way to get it out is to listen to it? Well, I had multiple albums in there for the duration of my mission. They simmered…they marinated…

Which leads us to the good stuff. The following 15 albums came to me in this Era of Awakening from 1999-2001. There were plenty more I digested, of course. But these were the ones that made a difference. THE LEGENDS. Some of them solidified their respective artists as titans within my psyche. Others were one-and-done influences that faded away for one reason or another. Some may surprise you, others aren’t surprising at all. All of them will be remembered for the brief period in which they literally changed my world. So, take a moment to relive a few modern classics or maybe discover something you hadn’t heard before.

And I wanna hear about the era that kicked you in the soul, too. If you’re a music junky, we know you’ve got some stories to tell.

Silverchair | Neon Ballroom (1999)

The mediocre post-grunge band that started a revolution in my head. Brilliance.

 

Deftones | White Pony (2000)

Similar to Silverchair, these guys snuck through the cracks and showed there was something more to them that deserved respect. This album helped me transistion as it linked what I enjoyed in high school to the new world of tunes I was exploring.

 

Killing Heidi | Reflector (2000)

Because of Silverchair, I had become obsessed with all things Australia at this point. I took a few bands from over the pond, and attached. Another transition album, as the 90’s was still very much alive in this release. A nearly perfect pop-rock collection. Thanks, internets.

 

Radiohead | Kid A (2000)

And then it hit me. The keystone of this Era. I ran into the brick wall that is Kid A, did an about-face, and headed in yet another direction. I very much disliked Radiohead before, but as I started appreciating the art inherent in my tunes, I had no choice but to submit to this. It was now the ‘Head’s turn as my favorite band. Biggest turnaround in history.

 

Powderfinger | Odyssey Number Five (2000)

Still interested in Auzzie tunes, I discovered another gem that stretched my mind a little more.

 

At the Drive-In | Relationship of Command (2000)

Rage Against the Machine were on their way out, but I had found myself an album to fill the void with a different sound but similar energy. And then they left me too. (Mars Volta had its moments though.)

 

Coldplay | Parachutes (2000)

Basically, if it sounded kinda like Radiohead, I was all about it. There was a heartfelt intimacy to this first album I really connected with.

 

Nelly Furtado | Whoa, Nelly! (2000)

Just when I had written off most of mainstream pop, Nelly came around with her first album and kind of blew me away. I kind of forgot about this one as the years passed and she got less interesting, but it was a fantastic reminder to keep an eye out for those rare pop gems.

 

O Brother Where Art Thou? | Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2000)

That old timey sound hit me somethin’ fierce with this’n. A love for folk and bluegrass was the result.

 

Gorillaz | Gorillaz (2001)

Or “How To Impress A Comic Nerd That Is Also A Music Nerd.”

 

Radiohead | Amnesiac (2001)

And then along came a little site called Napster. Amnesiac was the first album leak I tried to get a hold of. “I’m going on a mission soon, gotta soak it in…” I justified.

 

Travis | The Invisible Band (2001)

My newfound love for folk + my newfound love for Radiohead embodied into one album.

 

Bjork | Vespertine (2001)

Another milestone. Vespertine hit me like Kid A, but on a slightly lesser scale. The bride to Kid A‘s groom.

 

Weezer | Weezer (“The Green Album”) (2001)

There was an air of nostalgia about this Weezer comeback that still lingers today. The last summer album of my teenage youth.

 

Love Psychedelico | The Greatest Hits (2001)

The final album of this Era actually hit me on the mission in Japan. I took in quite a bit of Japanese music out there, but this was the one band that sent tingles down my spine. Bluesy, electronic folk-rock Americana. In Japanglish. And they had the balls to call their debut The Greatest Hits.

And I was never the same again.
I told you I can wax autobiographical sometimes.



About the Author

Chris