Everyone liked the 90’s. Everyone likes a playlist to boot. So surely everyone will love a 90’s playlist. No Ace of Base’s or Nirvana’s here, but rather a select tandem of artists you may not have heard in the wake of the musical bounty that was the 1990’s. In honor of my article numero uno here are 9 little-known bands from the 90’s for you to feast your ears on. These are my shoulda’, woulda’, coulda’ bands of the 90’s.
1. BROTHER CANE
In 1993, Brother Cane of Alabama dropped their eponymous debut album, featuring the slow-burning single “Got No Shame”. After touring relentlessly in support of said record, the band unleashed ‘Seeds’ in 1995, which featured their biggest single to date, “And Fools Shine On” and was produced by Almost Famous actor and acclaimed songwriter Mart Frederiksen (Aerosmith, Motley Crue). Although “And fools shine on” skyrocketed to number one Brother Cane was ultimately snubbed, failing to move enough product to sustain and having one of the finest post-grunge albums be swept under the rug. Frontman and brainchild Damon Johnson is currently the lead guitarist for Alice Cooper. Check out their smash “And Fools Shine On”:
Hailing from Philly is Dandelion, a band that while failing to take off did manage to score a video in an episode of everyone’s favorite 90’s teen duo Beavis and Butthead. The song, “Under My Skin”, showcased the band’s penchant for penning gritty, tough rock songs that shirked the typical grunge posturing of the era. Two albums were released for Columbia Records, neither of which did much good for the ill-fated Dandelion. Have a listen to “Under my Skin”:
Sacramento may be best known as the birthplace of rock and roll heavyweights Deftones in the early 90’s, but around the same time the California capital was also ground zero for Deftones cronies Far. Far is universally regarded as being the original pioneers of what is commonly and commercially known as emo, as their heart-on-its-sleeve, riff-laden anthems pay testament. The band dropped a couple major label records that, although not chart-toppers, cemented Far as true innovators in the rock and roll community. The boys recently released new material, including a well-traveled cover of Ginuwine’s 90’s staple “Pony”. You can peep the tune here:
Greta’s biggest claim to fame is that their original drummer—a guy named Brad Wilk—went on to become the hitter for well-known rock band Rage Against the Machine. Like Dandelion, Greta received aid from the airplay of its video for lukewarm single “Fathom” on Beavis and Butthead, although it did little to catapult their 1993 debut No Biting. The band and label were all excited and geared up for the launch of their sophomore effort titled This is Greta! in late 1995 until budget constraints and label politics put the kibosh on the album and its promotional efforts. Still, Greta played an avant-garde style of grungy alternative rock that has some legs. You can check out “Fathom” here:
Chicago natives Hum generated a reputation as one of the most credible bands on the rock circuit when in 1995 they unveiled their universally acclaimed debut ‘You’d prefer an astronaut’. The album boasted the band’s biggest hit to date, a song known as “Stars”. Smart, savvy rock songs with a sci-fi twist are Hum’s bread and butter, and they followed closely in the wake of their first album with 1997’s Downward is Heavenward. Downward features my personal favorite Hum song, a track called “Comin’ Home.” The foursome are currently out on the road with hopes of releasing new material in the near future. Their current drummer is a lookalike of Jason Sudeikis by the way. Kick it with the cool beans video for “Comin’ Home” here:
1998 and 1999 were quite good to Oleander. After locking up a major label deal, the band threw their debut ‘February Son’ at the proverbial wall and it suck, earning gold certification five months into the new millennium. Oleander were rewarded with the chance to record and release a second record for Republic Records, the oft-overlooked ‘Unwind’, in 2001. Although the band’s tidal was short lived, its legacy lives on in the forceful, hooky songs of its debut. Have a listen to the band’s most successful single, “Why I’m Here”.
Handsome became known as sort of a pseudo super group, enlisting members of rock stalwarts Helmet, Quicksand, and Cro-Mags among its ranks. The boys earned themselves a deal with Epic Records who released the band’s self-titled debut in 1997, though to little pomp and circumstance. Although not a commercial success, Handsome is regarded as one of the innovating forces behind the genre known collectively as post-hardcore. Recently, the album was issued for the first time on vinyl. You can hear the lead track from their album “Needles” here:
After stirring up quite a name for themselves touring at the turn of the century with would-be rock and roll sluggers Incubus and System of a Down to name a few, Snot’s brief life came to a tragic end when on December 11, 1998 the band’s charismatic frontman Lynn Strait and his pooch (and band mascot) Dobbs were killed in an automobile accident. In the wake of this tragedy, Snot’s remaining members regrouped for the compilation tribute album ‘Strait up’ which enlisted the help of many of the band’s friends to lend vocals on tracks meant for Snot’s sophomore record, including Ozzy Osbourne. The band also released a live album entitled ‘Alive’ in 2002 and all its members have found moderate success in the music biz. See for yourself why Snot was so revered by having a spin of their track ’Stoopid”:
From NYC come noise rock sluggers Unsane, who are infamous for their blood-soaked album covers as well as the distinction of having the cheapest-ever-to-make music video. The song, ‘Scrape”, received regular airplay on MTV in the mid-90’s and featured an ensemble of cringeworthy skateboarding misadventures. To date, Unsane has released 8 studio albums, the most recent being 2012’s ‘Wreck’. You can see the carnage of their shoestring budget music video for ‘Scrape” here:
The Michigan bred alt-rock ensemble gained notoriety in the mid 90’s with their pick hit ‘Plowed”, which vaulted their debut album ‘Rotting Piñata’ to gold status.
This Washington D.C. nu metal quintet released two albums in the late 90’s plus two more in the early 00’s before label pressures and inner turmoil pushed them apart.