Young people all around the world were drawn to the angsty lyrics and lilting voice of Dolores O’Riordan when her band The Cranberries were EVERYWHERE in 1993 and 1994. But whereas their debut album featured beautiful pop hits like “Linger” and “Dreams,” their sophomore effort, “No Need to Argue” built upon the passion of relational anguish while shining a light on the horrors and plight of The Troubles in Ireland. Nowhere was that more evident and dramatic than in “Zombie,” which would be The Cranberries’ best-charting song of all time.
What does a band do when the record label shelves their album and ignores them? If you're Jimmy Eat World, you strike out on your own, save your money, and release a platinum album. With their ability to blend pop-punk, rock, and emo, Jimmy Eat World produced such ear candy as Sweetness, A Praise Chorus, and the perfect anthem in The Middle. Good luck not singing along, and if you happened to be in high school when this album came out? Well done, you!
From the opening notes of “Zoo Station,” one quickly realizes “Achtung Baby” is not your mother’s U2. When the band released the album almost 30 years ago, they were not only the biggest band in the world, but the most important. But the stress of living up to those monikers almost broke them. The resulting album was a masterpiece built on the strains of love, stardom, and alienation. With classic hits like “One,” “Even Better Than The Real Thing” and even the monster radio hit “Mysterious Ways,” “Achtung Baby” was the band doubling down on its power and creativity – and may be their best album of all.
Hailed as "the grandchildren of the Beach Boys" by one reviewer, this soulful Chapel Hill band was also able to do rock, funk, and blues with impeccable harmonies. The band's first full-length album, "Rosemary," brought them incredible acclaim -- if mostly on a regional level. But for a while there, they were the headliners while a lesser-known band from Columbia, S.C., was the opener. (Hint: it was Hootie.) "Rosemary" remains a delightful work of art that illustrates why North Carolina's music scene has always been among the best in the land. And it clearly has lasting power, even if the band itself did not.
For our inaugural Valentine's Day epipod, we take a listen to an album full of passion and want, an album full of self-reflection and obsession. With just one album (and really just 2.5 band members), The Postal Service gave us "Give Up" back in 2003 -- an album that meant so much to so many people, and one that exemplifies the extremes of love and lost. Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello's masterpiece album struck a chord -- one that still strikes hard 15 years later.
At the end of the day, Hootie and the Blowfish may have just been four good dudes from South Carolina who hit lightning in a bottle (of probably Bud Light) and offered a pop-heavy, feel-good answer to grunge. But give Darius Rucker & Co. their due: “Cracked Rear View” is one of the best debut albums of all time and it gave us memorable, catchy hits — many of which are way deeper than you may have originally noticed.
They were like nothing we had seen or heard before. From the opening growls of "Welcome to the Jungle" to the pop sensibilities of "Sweet Child O' Mine" and the anthemic "Paradise City," Guns N' Roses was the next generation's answer to Led Zeppelin. And "Appetite for Destruction" pulled back the curtain on the debauchery and insanity that was L.A. and the Sunset Strip in the mid-1980s. Sure, they used hairspray ... but mainly just to light a Molotov cocktail to set fire to hair metal. Axl, Slash, and the boys would go on to sell a mere 30 million copies of "Appetite." And they left a path of destruction in their wake.
In our inaugural “Listener’s Choice” episode and final epipod of Season 1, we tackle the third album from Run the Jewels. RTJ combines the best attributes of rap and hip hop: fierce and insightful lyrics that make you think from a different point of view, and insane beats and production that transport you to dystopian, apocalyptic streets. Wrapped up within the fierce fire of RTJ’s lyrics are humor, vulnerability, and a sincere desire to make things better. That sincerity comes through by the fact that this group has made every one of its albums available as a free download. RT&J is the new PB&J … and it’s delicious.
The Beach Boys and Kacey Musgraves both produced quintessential Christmas albums – they just happened to be generations and decades apart. The similarities are striking: both albums are a mix of well-known holiday standards plus original compositions – and all are true to the artists’ unique sounds. Both albums make you excited for all of the “Ribbons and Bows” of the season and the coming of “Little Saint Nick.”
It’s frankly one of the great mysteries in music: Why isn’t the English band Elbow more popular in the United States? After all, this band of longtime friends has produced some of the most captivating sounds and albums for more than two decades. Their 2008 album, “The Seldom Seen Kid,” even won the Mercury Prize for best album in the UK – topping giants such as Radiohead, Adele, and Robert Plant & Alison Krauss. Singer Guy Garvey’s poetic longing is fully embraced by the sonic backing of the rest of Elbow, resulting in anthemic and haunting masterpieces such as “Starlings” and “One Day Like This,” while also featuring grooves like “Grounds for Divorce,” “The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver” and so much more.