Looking Through Time: 1995

Story posted January 26, 2020 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by CommRadio Arts & Entertainment Staff

The members of the CommRadio Arts & Entertainment staff revisit a handful of the most iconic albums from 1995 in this edition of Looking Through Time.

Radiohead – “The Bends”

Radiohead’s sophomore album “The Bends” is considered by many to be the band’s best. Featuring classic songs like “Planet Telex,” “My Iron Lung” and “Fake Plastic Trees,” “The Bends” marks the first time that Radiohead pivoted away from its grunge roots (though not entirely) to offer a more experimental, keyboard-heavy album. While not fully as heavy as its predecessor “Pablo Honey,” “The Bends” offers listeners some of the characteristics that define Radiohead as one of the most iconic bands of all time.

The lyrics are more cryptic and fantastical, alongside Thom Yorke’s soft, crooning vocals, and the stillness of the keyboards create an album that is more unearthly than most before it. It’s not the first of its kind, but it is the first in this modern era of music. “The Bends” is what could be considered the template for future Radiohead albums, such as “In Rainbows” and “Kid A,” as they share many of the same characteristics as this album.

While “The Bends” is not as talked about as much as some of Radiohead’s other albums, it is not one to ignore, as it was a milestone for grunge and experimentation. It normalized the different and unexpected, setting us up for many more great albums to come.  —Jack Grossman

Mobb Deep – “The Infamous”

American hip-hop duo Kejuan “Havoc” Muchita and Albert “Prodigy” Johnson, known as Mobb Deep, debuted their second studio album “The Infamous” on April 25, 1995. While Mobb Deep’s first album “Juvenile Hell” did poorly in sales, the duo’s second effort took them to great heights in their rap career.

“The Infamous” displays Mobb Deep’s ability to craft unique twists when creating beats and writing lyrics. The duo is aggressive and dark despite being just young kids from New York, but it all works out perfectly, as the response from listeners was all excitement from all over the place.

Famous faces who were featured and produced the album include legends like Q-Tip, Was and Ghostface Killah. Mobb Deep’s most popular songs to date come from “The Infamous,” including “Survival of the Fittest” and “Shook Ones, Part II.”

“Survival of the Fittest” focuses on the challenges of life on the streets and the mindset one must have in order to survive in this kind of environment. Havoc used his remixing skills to put this piece together by mixing old tracks and creating a more crisp, distinctive sound. “Shook Ones, Part II,” meanwhile, proved that sequels can be better than the originals, as everything from the lyrics to the beat create the ultimate tough vibe that Mobb Deep wanted to portray.

This album was an important factor in the rise of rap. Mobb Deep almost did not proceed with “The Infamous” due to the bad feedback from its first studio album. But with the help of great minds in the music industry, Mobb Deep was able to deliver a piece that will play on forever and will continue to be an important piece of what rap history.  —Rachel Miloscia

Björk – “Post”

Carrying the torch for eccentric artists such as Kate Bush into the modern age, Björk followed up her first solo record with what is widely considered to be one of the best sophomore albums ever produced by a female musician.

Obtaining its name because of its role as a love letter to her homeland of Iceland, “Post” is Björk’s attempt to capture the pulse of her new conflicted life in England. Moving between jazz, electronic, techno and several other musical aesthetics, Björk perfectly captures a bizarre variety of genres flawlessly in a way that only an artist as pleasantly peculiar as her could do.

Opening with the dominating “Army of Me,” Björk boldly enters the album with a rally cry of self-determination. Exploring her feelings of independency, Björk breaks the chains on her overbearing new life as a solo musician. Backed by a thick industrial groove, she fiercely expresses her need to look out for her own well-being in a world that seemingly wants to drain her of all of her energy.

She then treats the listener to a lulling stream of cascading chimes and stimulating beats through her elegantly choreographed “Hyper-Ballad.” An intimate examination of her feelings of dependency with a comforting lover through a dream-like structure, Björk crafts a spectacular sonic experience which enthralls the listener with a heartfelt story of true relationship bliss.

Björk proves to tackle a dizzying array of styles through her integration of a cover of the song “It’s Oh So Quiet.” An offbeat Broadway inspired number, Björk sparks off into a theatrical unhinged interlude, which perfectly showcases why she is not your average pop star.

Other highlights on the record include the sensual “Enjoy,” the perplexed “Possibly Maybe” and the fey “Isobel.” Each track is perfectly utilized on the record, amounting to an odyssey of bizarre sound texture and emotional excavation.

Björk’s impressive second album received universal acclaim and garnered her the much-deserved mainstream attention that she had missed for most of her early career. Able to maintain the integrity of her odd character while transitioning beyond her cult following, Björk proved to hold a grasp over the airwaves.

Cementing Björk’s role as music’s next unconventional pop star, her sophomore album’s visually striking music videos and sonically invigorating artistry helped to solidify her legacy in music history forever.  —Scott Perdue

Oasis – “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?”

In 1994, Oasis broke onto the scene with its debut album “Definitely Maybe.” The album was bright and optimistic, a departure from the sultry sounds of grunge that were dominating the airwaves at that time. What came of this album, alongside the efforts of bands such as Blur, was a new genre: Britpop.

A year later, Oasis would release “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?,” an album that would define Britpop and British music of the ‘90s. The band was fronted by the raspy-sounding misfit Liam Gallagher, and his brother Noel was the main creative force.

Noel wanted to create an album that expanded on the sound of “Definitely Maybe” but had more focus on the choruses, which were as maximal and grandiose as anything released in the decade. This shift in style would be one that propelled Oasis to the top of the world.

The album starts with “Hello,” a track full of energy and packed with pop appeal; it is just a small signal of things to come. Each track in “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” is seemingly crafted perfectly to fill arenas. There is diversity in instrumentation, but it comes in loops, and the lyrics are instantly memorable.

In one album, Oasis created more timeless hits than most bands release in an entire career. “Wonderwall,” “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” “Roll with It” and “Champagne Supernova” are some of the most instantly recognizable songs of all time. The fact that they all came from the same album is remarkable.

What makes “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” so timeless is the songwriting of Noel Gallagher. It is easy to make songs intended for catchy choruses and filling stadiums corny and meaningless, but Gallagher did the opposite. A song like “Don’t Look Back in Anger” is intensely infectious. The guitar riffs and drumming make for a very catchy track, and the chorus is instantly memorable, yet it is a song with deep meaning.

Achieving such high-level catchiness and depth for one song, done 12 separate times, all in one album, is remarkable, and it could be argued that it is something that has not been achieved since.  —Jim Krueger

 

Jack Grossman is a senior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email jackdgrossman@gmail.com.

Scott Perdue is a junior majoring in secondary education. To contact him, email rsp5246@psu.edu.

Rachel Miloscia a senior majoring in communications. To contact her, email rmiloscia34@gmail.com.

Jim Krueger is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email kruegerjim19@gmail.com.