All Music Guide continues it's ongoing "AMG Loves..." series with a tribute to 1992.
I remember this as a really good time for new music. Nirvana had broken through to the mainstream, and there was a sense that it might be possible for musicians to make a living creating something other than pre-programed pop music. There was a real sense of optimism as many talented and interesting bands got snapped up by major labels looking for the "next Nirvana." I graduated from college in 1991, so while I was not as deeply involved in the new music scene as I had been, I was still pretty tuned into what was going on. Being slightly more removed from the industry side of things also allowed me to feel like more of a "fan" than I was able to while serving as Music Director at my college radio station.
I also felt some sense of personal gratification at seeing the kind of music that I had been championing for the last 4 years breakthrough commercially. I had long maintained that much of the music being made within the "alternative" or "college rock" milieu could prove popular if given a chance, and Nirvana's success seemed to justify that belief. I remember making a trip back to my college in '92 and hearing Nirvana blasting from the windows of a frat house, while only a year early many frat boys had been mocking the radio station for playing the same kind of music. Unfortunately, the window that Nirvana opened for other interesting bands to climb through shut rather quickly, or proved to be something of an illusion in the first place, but that is another story.
1992 was a difficult transition period for me personally. I was a sanctimonious, vegetarian, recent liberal arts grad who had moved back in with his parents during an economic recession. I was dealing with some really serious issues at the time like what the heck was I going to do with a B.A. in Philosophy, and the fact that my mother was constantly trying to sneak meat into my meals. I was working at an entry-level, auto insurance claims adjusting job after having done cool stuff in college that actually involved a lot of responsibility. I was thinking seriously about grad school. I spent a lot of time with some of my old High School buddies holding Arch Hall, Jr. film marathons in our parents' basements. I wasn't sleeping or eating much, and was probably clinically depressed. I was a walking, talking cliché, and yet I probably thought I was unique. Still, I don't remember it as an altogether bleak period. The music probably helped.
I think the single album that I most closely identify with this period in my life would have to be Luna's debut album Lunapark. Galaxie 500's breakup was still big news when this album by Dean Wareham's new group featuring former members of The Feelies and The Chills appeared. Something about the melancholic, yet forward looking and hopeful vibe of the album struck a deep chord with me at the time. "Soho has the boots, Noho's got the crack, New England has the foliage, but I'm not going back." Like Dean Wareham, I'd soon be leaving behind past associations and relationships, and by January of 1993 I'd be living in Noho myself (although I was there for grad school, not the crack). Some of Luna's subsequent albums might have been better than Lunapark, but none hold as special a place in my heart.
Some of my other favorite albums from 1992 include the debut effort by Dean Wareham's old Galaxie 500 bandmates, Damon & Naomi's More Sad Hits, as well as Barbara Manning's One Perfect Green Blanket, Unrest's Imperial Ffrr, The Jayhawks' Hollywood Town Hall, Kendra Smith's The Guild of Temporal Adventurers, Pavement's Slanted & Enchanted, Sugar's Cooper Blue, The Beastie Boys' Check Your Head, Stereolab's Switched On and Peng!, Uncle Tupelo's March 16-20 1992, Throwing Muses' Red Heaven, Mudhoney's Piece Of Cake, Lush's Spooky, The Flaming Lips' Hit To Death In The Future Head, The Chills' Soft Bomb, Nirvana's Incesticide, Prince's unnamed symbol album, P.J. Harvey's Dry, Digital Underground's Sons Of The P, The Afghan Whigs' Congregation, Neneh Cherry's Homebrew, Jonathan Richman's I, Jonathan, Sonic Youth's Dirty, Velocity Girl's self-titled EP, The Cowboy Junkies' Black Eyed Man, King Missile's Happy Hour, Sebadoh's Smash Your Head Against The Punk Rock, Neil Young's Harvest Moon, Yo La Tengo's May I Sing With Me, The Wedding Present's Hit Parade Vols. I & II, Beat Happening's You Turn Me On, Giant Sand's Center Of The Universe, Heavenly's Le Jardin de Heavenly, Eugenius' Oomalama, Bettie Serveert's Palomine, The Headcoatees' Have Love Will Travel, Tom Waits' Bone Machine, as well as the influential dream pop compilation ...One Last Kiss. That's a lot of albums, but I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting.
I had thought about posting a couple of the more obscure tracks from 1992, but as more music becomes available for download through other channels I see little point. (This is a big part of the reason I've mostly stopped posting music here). If you're in the mood for a giggle, go to Amazon and download The Headcoatees' "My Boyfriend Is Learning Karate."
So where were you in '92, and what were you listening to?