Arts and Culture

Broke Ass Nostalgia: You Won’t Believe That These Albums are Twenty Years Old

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The 20th anniversary of the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind has been given a lot of attention in the last few months, deservedly so. It was a total game-changer; not only did it revolutionize alternative music but also the way in which people relate to music. Just listening to those opening cords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” can evoke a strong sense of where we were our lives when we first heard Nirvana. However, 1991 was a huge year in music, and not just for the grunge invasion.

Can you believe that the following albums are also twenty years old? They not only define an artist’s discography, but each in their own right are responsible for shaping our youth (or teens, twenties, etc….)
R.E.M., Out of Time

You couldn’t turn on MTV in 1991 without seeing this video and Michael Stipe’s awkward dancing. Try listening to “Shiny Happy People” and be in a bad mood at the same time. It’s impossible. Go try it.

Green Day, 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours

99.9% of you who have heard of Green Day likely bought 1994’s Kerplunk! But Lookout! Records officially released their earlier 2 recordings as a single album this year. It’s no “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, but it’ll do. It’ll do.

U2, Achtung Baby

What is there to say that you don’t already know about U2? Diehard fans may not name this as their favorite, but certainly this album was their breakthrough into mainstream and gave Bono his platform to declare himself the ultimate spokesperson for humanitarian issues.

Fugazi, Steady Diet of Nothing

I’ll admit, I can’t say I even had a clue who Fugazi was in 1991, but this is by far my favorite album of theirs. Twenty years? Damn, these guys must be wearing their pants up to their armpits and watching reruns of Law & order by now.

Divinyls, Divinyls

They were really pioneers- in that masturbation is to be celebrated. It’s a shame that they are one-hit wonders, because this is actually a good album. And they have (had) a great retro sound

Pearl Jam, Ten

Just the opening riff of “Evenflow” gets me pumped. Whereas Nirvana paved the way for grunge, Pearl Jam were right behind them. Thank you, Eddie Vedder & co for writing such great stuff, and making it okay to wear you long johns under your cargo shorts.

Gerardo,  Mo’Ritmo

I know you tried to forget that Gerardo happened, but I’m here to remind you. Walk into a semi-crowded area of thirty-somethings and yell “Rico!” and I’ll bet they all yell “Suave!” It’s the new Marco Polo.

Guns ‘N’ Roses,  Use Your Illusion I & 2

In 1991, GNR owned the world. Axl was all, we are going to release TWO albums. And they sold like crazy. Axl was all, I’m going to wear bike pants and a baseball catcher’s chest guard, and he was badass. Axl was all, I’m going to release this twelve-minute song called “November Rain” with a full symphonic orchestra and we ate it up. Fun fact, this was the first album with a warning label that I was allowed to buy.

Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, Music for the People

Before he was nominated for Oscars and spewing philiosophy in David O. Russell films, Marky Mark was a from-the-streets wrapper with a penchant for dropping his pants at performances. I think I requested that “Good Vibrations” be played a minimum eight times at my Bat Mitzvah.

Skid Row, Slave to the Grind

Previously regarded as “hair metal”, Skid Row were taken more seriously when this album debuted at #1 on the mainstream album charts. Interestingly, the original album was released with a warning label, but a second “clean” edition was released without a label. Were they caving to censorship, or was it a strategy to sell more albums? Also, Sebastian Bach was an awesome frontman.

KLF, The White Room

These days, a stage full of people in weird costumes and masks is nothing to blink at- thanks to lady Gaga and Kanye West, among others. But the KLF was really quirky for its time- a collective of singers, DJs, and a gospel choir. Take that, Daft Punk! Also, they collaborated with frikking Tammy Wynette on “Justified and Ancient” which was epic. Look it up.

Matthew Sweet, Girlfriend

Even though grunge took over, the sensitive new age boys related to Matthew Sweet and his whole album devoted to pining after his crush. If you haven’t listened to this in a while or not at all, it’s worth the time. It’s amazing how well it holds up.

Honorable mentions: Jesus Jones, The Spin Doctors, Boyz II Men


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Robin Hardwick - Cost-Conscious Connoisseur

Robin Hardwick - Cost-Conscious Connoisseur

Robin was raised in the shopping malls of suburban Long Island, New York. As a teenager, her life goals were to become a writer and marry Bret Michaels. After attending college at the University of Delaware (yes, in the state of Delaware) and earning a graduate degree educationl at NYU, she's achieved only one of those goals. Along with writing, Robin enjoys performing improv comedy, internet memes, cross-stitch, and showing off her alarmingly extensive knowledge of obscure pop culture trivia. Currently, Robin resides in Oakland, CA and is writing a book about the 1980s teen book series, Sweet Valley High.