The best music of 1997: a rebuttal.

So, structurefall considers it a point of pride that his musical taste and discoveries are consistently ten years in the past (to the point that it's very much a self-fulfilling prophecy.) Anyway, yesterday he was telling this story yet again, and said "Why, now that I'm up to 1997, I'm even starting to appreciate futurepoop!" By which he meant progressive-house bullshit like VNV Nation.

I started only-semi-coherently ranting at that point, and if he wasn't driving I probably would have grabbed and shaken him.

Anyway, at that point I rattled off a list of bands from 1997 that he should be listening to instead of that recycled lukewarm pabulum. I think most of what I shouted out was actually from 1996 or 1998, but when I got home, I spent ten minutes making a list.

Today he posted his list of the best of 1997, and his favorite bands suck. (I find it hard to be in his car because of this music, srsly.) Here then, is my rebuttal, in two parts:

<LJ-CUT text="The Best of 1997, or, Fuck Futurepop            --More--(28%) ">

The Best of 1997, or, Fuck Futurepop:

Big beat, trance, IDM, trip hop, and just a sprinkle of goth:

Rock and/or industrial:

Thank you. Drive through.

Tags: , ,

70 Responses:

  1. dr_memory says:

    Portishead is ten years old now? Good lord.

    • ciphergoth says:

      For some reason that's more recent than I expected for Portishead, but quite a bit older than I expected for Like Swimming. Given that he didn't make 9/9/99 I shouldn't be surprised though...

      • certron says:

        To resolve your bumpy memories, the album named Dummy came out in 1994, which may be what you are thinking of first, instead of the second album, named Portishead.

        • ammutbite says:

          i'll play consensus facilitator, and suggest that dr_memory was referring to the disheartening fact that there has been no new songs from Portishead in 10 years, not the album's release date/

          • certron says:

            I believe you are correct; this would certainly not be the first time I've misinterpreted the English language. What I could add to this post for substance is that the singer, Beth Gibbons, has gone on with a solo album in the mean time.

            Wikipedia tells me there is a new album arriving in April 2008, and their page shows a fairly active touring calendar. 10 years were certainly long enough to wait.

            • ammutbite says:

              Beth's Live In Berlin album has a couple of songs (especially one called "Tom The Model")that come close...but the "methadone" of solo projects is instantly outclassed by a fresh dose of the real deal.

              very few things can still cut through my crust of jaded cynicism, but Portishead remains one of them
              have you seen this before?
              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hba1_wHMSDQ

    • mhoye says:

      I was going to jump in with Six Finger Satellite, but I was a little surprised to find out that "Severe Exposure" was from '95. I only found out about it in '97 or so.

      I wonder if there's some long german word for that goldfish-memory rediscovery-shock that yeah, it was just that long ago, and by extension, you're just that old now.

  2. What I always enjoyed about VNV Nation is that you could almos t hear the mouse clicking in Fruityloops.

  3. I think it's so *cute* when you guys scrap.

  4. 7ghent says:

    Thank you. I said it in 1999 and I'll say it again, fuck VNV.

  5. bitwise says:

    I eagerly await jwz mixtape FFF6.

  6. heresiarch says:

    suddenly i'm glad i don't rely on either of you for music recommendations :P. the chemical brothers and the crystal method? ugh! talk about music that hasn't held up well. i'll give you autechre, recoil, portishead and mistle thrush though. but really, there are good reasons i don't still listen to hanzel und gretyl or sister machine gun anymore.

  7. catalyst says:

    I, too, will live a happier and more fruitful life if I never have to hear VNV or Apoptygma Bezerk ever again. But there's not really very much futurepop on structurefall's list - Noisex, Wumpscut, and Numb (in particular) are much bigger on the screaming and the crunching then they are on the doof-doof.

  8. twiin says:

    More best-of-1997 as I remember it:

    Hooverphonic - A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular
    KMFDM - Symbols
    Godflesh - Love and Hate in Dub
    Laika - Sounds of the Satellites
    The Orb - Orblivion
    Lords of Acid - Voodoo-U
    whatever that GYBE album was called
    ....and Numb - Blood Meridian, even though it's the first album on his list. Because it's just that good.

    • jwz says:

      Stereophonic: 1996.
      KMFDM: utterly without merit.
      Orb: yawn.
      Voodoo: 1994.

      • twiin says:

        Stereophonic: Balls.
        KMFDM: As far as I'm concerned, it's the only solid album they've written in their twenty years, and it took them ten years to get there.
        Orb: Yawn? Really?
        Voodoo: Balls again. I had no idea my copy was a reissue.

        • neko_special says:

          Didn't listen to Orblivion back in 1997 but that's one of my absolute favorites, right here right now. Perfect wandering-around-the-city-aimlessly-while-on-drugs music.

          As for KMFDM, I only like their albums from MDFMK onwards. Tried getting into Symbols a month or two ago, but it just doesn't sound as good as their more recent stuff.

          • jwz says:

            The only worthwhile KMFDM albums are the ones he released as "Pig". And even those are uneven.

            • neko_special says:

              I'd argue that if you're gonna refer to KMFDM as one person, it would be Sascha K and not Mr. Watts... but thanks for the recommendation.

    • ammutbite says:

      numb's wasted sky was a much better album, imho

      • eh, i like that one too, but i feel like everything prior to blood meridian was just -trying- to do sonically what blood meridian and language of silence actually achieve.

        also, while wasted sky sounds a lot better, i think christmeister had better songs.

    • thedaniel says:

      mu-ziq's lunatic harness was released in 1997. omfs.

  9. prog says:

    Apropos of the distant future of 2007, I discovered Underworld this year, and find them to be excellent work/hacking music. I learned only yesterday that they published a new album this year, too - a nice surprise after my assumption that they were a 1990s-only act. I can recommend them to anyone who likes electronic music.

    VNV will always have a place on my guilty-pleasure playlist, alas.

  10. ammutbite says:

    what a crack-up. that is what I was listening to back then.
    both of your lists, however, showcase far too many albums by bands I like that are not their best effort.
    I won't say specificallly which ones ...
    unit 187 sucked but I still have a warm spot for that(something to be said for a great break-up song coming along when you are actually breaking up with someone).

  11. netik says:

    Funny, I think my musical tastes in 1997 were much, much closer to yours than eric's.

    Fluke and Crystal Method were defining albums of that time for me

    The C-Tec album, at the time had been playing in the clubs since 1995 or so, but only had a commercial release in 1997.

    I remember having been passed a CD-R of the album a year or two before it's release. It was a rare commodity that DJs treasured.

  12. nadya_lev says:

    Sleater-kinney - Dance Song '97 :)

  13. intoner says:

    yes!
    low profile darkness! that record is fantastic.

    glad to see these on there too:
    Add N to (X) - Avant Hard
    Not Breathing - Sangre Azul
    Autechre - Chiastic Slide
    Mono - Formica Blues

  14. intoner says:

    just from a quick glance in my itunes (providing it is correctly tagged), it'd say my best of 1997 would be:

    Gridlock - The Synthetic Form
    Panacea - Low Profile Darkness
    P.A.L - m@rix
    Radiohead - OK Computer
    Aphex Twin - Come To Daddy
    Atari Teenage Riot - Burn, Berlin, Burn !
    Blur - Blur
    Imminent Starvation - Human Dislocation
    Synapscape - Rage
    Autechre - Cichlisuite

    these two don't really count because they're not really albums, but like a "best of" or "B-sides":

    Jane's Addition - Kettle Whistle
    Haujobb - From Homes To Planets

  15. tiff_seattle says:

    Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - The Boatman's Call

  16. bluce says:

    I didn't know anyone had heard of Engorged with Blood besides me.

    And I did only because I worked with Steve Kirk from 96-99.

    • jwz says:

      At the time, Live 105 was playing "I'm Fryin'" pretty regularly. I saw them play at Covered Wagon.

      • zonereyrie says:

        Aha! I couldn't figure out how I knew of that band at all - but I lived there 95-98 and listed to Live 105 pretty much exclusively on my commute. Must've worked its way into my brain.

  17. nightrider says:

    Engorged With Blood FTW!

  18. baconmonkey says:

    Prodigy - Fat of the LAnd
    July 1, 1997

    I'd call that a far more solid an influential release than anything by Crystal Method.

  19. bluce says:

    If I'm not mistaken, Idiot Flesh "Fancy" came out in 97.

  20. thargol says:

    1997, you say? After the long dark years of grunge, it was the year that metal finally resurfaced. Bruce Dickinson's "Accident of birth" and Hammerfall's "Glory to the brave" were the light at the end of the tunnel, showing that there was life in the old dog yet...

  21. darkengobot says:

    I was commenting just the other day about the Newsletter that Goes Out to Hipsters and Scenesters to keep us up on What's Hot in the Music Scene. Apparently my subscription Ran Out in 1997.

    Everything since then has been Completely Fucking Foreign to me. I recognized these bands, at least. So if I can locate a working TARDIS, maybe I can be Cool Again.

  22. Dig Your Own Hole is completely unbearable. I have an idea of what they were trying to do, and I want to think it's clever, but whenever I hear it coming out of a speaker I want to turn it the fuck off.

    (Erm... and I haven't actually heard of C-Tec, let alone that album. But, yeah, right on with everything else.)

  23. zare_k says:

    Among others:

    Sneaker Pimps - Becoming X (Feb. 1997). Either that or Underworld's "Second Toughest In The Infants" was the first album I ever bought

    Radiohead - OK Computer

    Distance to Goa, Vol. 6: I suppose a comp disc doesn't entirely count but this is my favorite of the DtG collections

    • jwz says:

      I thought Becoming X and Second Toughest were both 1996.

      I despise Radiohead.

      • zare_k says:

        I thought Becoming X and Second Toughest were both 1996.

        Huh, you're quite right about Becoming X (and Second Toughest). Never mind then.

      • pozorvlak says:

        Yay! I thought it was just me that despised Radiohead. Probably because every single other person at my school traipsed out on Day 1 of release to buy OK Computer, apparently in the bizarre belief that it made them special and different.

        Kid A's OK, though.

  24. pavel_lishin says:

    Add N to (X) doesn't get enough recognition.

  25. telecart says:

    Isn't Faith no More's Album of the Year from 1997?

    My list would also include KMFDM's SYMBOLS and The Dandy Warhols Come Down. I listened to those a lot back then.

  26. resonantwave says:

    A few more:

    Aube: Cardiac Strain
    Björk: Homogenic
    Coil: Unnatural History III
    Covenant: Sequencer
    Diary of Dreams: Bird Without Wings
    Index: Faith in Motion
    Lycia: Cold
    Mentallo & the Fixer: Burnt Beyond Recognition
    Photek: Modus Operandi
    Sigur Rós: Von
    Switchblade Symphony: Bread and Jam for Frances
    :wumpscut: Embyrodead
    Xorcist: Soul Reflection

    Last but not least, my favorite (and criminally out-of-print):

    Forma Tadre: Navigator

    • badc0ffee says:

      Embryodead was great.

    • hafnir says:

      Forma Tadre was at least 1996. I remember being at the Digital Underground store (which became Metropolis Records online store) in Philly in 1996 for the Download show there, and trying to get them to not send a copy of the Forma Tadre disc to some loser who mailordered it, and instead sell it to me right there with cash in hand! But they were ethical, so no dice. :) Anyway, got it only a short time later.

      And if you're ok with iTunes: http://www.formatadre.com/FT_Main.html

      And PS: Xorcist is a brave choice - wouldn't have made that one. :) And I'm sorry to say my wife helped release it!

      • resonantwave says:

        You're right, Navigator was released in 1996 on Offbeat; 1997 was for the domestic release on Metropolis. Same goes for Covenant's Sequencer. And the Lycia album was released in 1996 too. Sigh, can't trust CDDB for anything...

        Great to see Andreas Meyer active again, can't wait for the new album!

        Xorcist is ok; Scorched Blood was a club staple for a while. Certainly not my top choice on the list, though.

  27. gryazi says:

    I am an unabashed fan, so I have to say that The Elevator Drops' "People Mover" came out in 1997.

    They just put out a download-only album this year, so they're also on my best-of-'07, but it's a bit of a leap from their previous work.

  28. jesus_x says:

    I still listen to half these regularly... People keep yelling at me to get new music.

  29. hafnir says:

    Pearl's Girl was 1996. Has one of my all-time favorite Underworld tracks, "Cherry Pie".

    But don't be shocked if I wasn't into most of the other raver crap. ;)

    Nice one on the Les Jumeaux though - good stuff!

    And PS: this entire thread (i.e. what to listen to in 1997 besides future pop) is insane - VNV (and by extension future pop) was 1998 at the earliest, and was effectively completely unknown in 1997!!

    • hafnir says:

      Oh, and C-Tec "Darker" was a guilty pleasure - spun it the week it came out the one time I spun at Das Bunker in LA. kyronfive's still friends with one of the founders of C-Tec (well, Cyber-Tec anyway).

  30. Just curious, can you pick any random year and name your 10 favorite bands from that year?