Tuesday, October 29, 2019

McQ's Best Of 1998 Vol 9 - Words Be Damned!

With our final themed mixed of 1998, we take a listen to some of that year's best from those bands for whom, at least to English-tuned ears, lyrics were a much smaller part of the musical equation - post-rock, experimental rock, electronica, international music, and one very unusual indie band.

Due to the long run times of so many of these songs, this mix goes on for quite a while, so don't try to take it all in in one sitting, just pick a spot to kick things off, and enjoy.

Here's the Spotify Link!

About the Artists/Albums/Songs represented on this mix:

1. I Set My Face To The Hillside - Tortoise: We begin our Words Be Damned mix, appropriately enough, with this delightful number from a band that almost never had use for words, Chicago's impossible-to-pigeonhole, pioneering instrumental post-rock outfit Tortoise, and their third LP TNT, the most jazz-inflected release in their long discography. 

2. So Now... - Herbert: My favorite song from British sample-king and dance music original Matthew Herbert's breakout fourth release Around The Housewhich substituted any drum machine help with recorded samples of strikes and movements of everyday items that could literally be found "around the house." 

3. The Seasons Reverse - Gastr Del Sol: On their fifth and final outing, this highly respected, Chicago-based Jim O'Rourke/David Grubbs post-rock duo moved slightly towards more conventional songcraft to create the most accessible record of their careers Camoufleur. The Seasons Reverse here is the album's most popular song.

4. Dry The Rain - The Beta Band: Widely considered one of the 100 best albums of the 90s, Scottish "folktronica" outfit The Beta Band's The Three EPs isn't really an album proper, but rather a compilation of the band's initial three EPs - 1997's Champion Versions (for which Dry The Rain here was originally recorded), and 1998's The Patty Patty Sound, and Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos. I had originally intended to include our three The Three EPs selections on our Early Indie / Aging Alts mix, but ultimately, the Beta Band's preference for loose unpredictable structures, long track lengths, and minimalistic lyricism made the Hi-Fidelity-featured Dry The Rain and those other two songs a more natural fit here. 

5. Bongo Bong - Manu Chao: Following the break-up of his Paris-based party-rock-band Mano Negra in 1995, French-Spaniard Manu Chao moved to Madrid and became obsessed with capturing the sounds of street musicians around the world. Over the next three years, he would travel the world, particularly South America, seeking such artists out, and writing and recording individual numbers whenever inspiration struck. Finally, in 1998, those recording were collected in his world-music classic Clandestino. A one-of-a-kind merging of deep tradition and personal perspective, sung in a three or four languages, Clandestino is one of the 90s most singular offerings. Here is the record's most popular number, Bongo Bong

6. Aquarius - Boards Of Canada: Arguably the most significant and influential electronic album of 1998, Boards Of Canada's full-length debut Music Has The Right To Children acted as a clarion call for emerging electronic musicians who wished to see the genre's full potential aimed at headier aims than the dance floor. In recoding the album, the Scottish brother duo employed all manner of degraded analog equipment, often even physically damaging homemade reel-to-reel or cassette recordings, and combined those recordings with natural world sounds and samples from children shows (like the various Sesame Street snippets utilized in Aquarius here) to craft Music Has The Right's uniquely warm, innocent, and nostalgic sound.

7. Minas De Cobre - For Better Metal - Calexico: For their second album The Black Light, Tuscon, Arizona's Celxico chose to focus on the Southwestern desert and all that it inspired to create a collection of short, impressionistic tunes rooted as much in the Latin genres of bordering Mexico as the country and rock influences prevalent in the States. Both critics and fans loved it. More evocative than forceful, the album included several instrumental tracks, like the mariachi-flavored Minas De Cobre - For Better Metal presented here. 

8. There's A Fight At The End Of The Tunnel - The Third Eye Foundation: Fantastic atmospheric creepiness here from Bristol, England producer Matt Elliot and his excellent, very unusual 1998 album as Third Eye Foundation You Guys Kill Me.

9. Sr. Cobranza - Bersuit Vergarabat: Don't know exactly what it's about, but love the feel of this fiery protest song from Argentina's veteran rock act Bersuit Vergarabat and their fourth studio release Libertinaje.

10. Rae - Authechre: Though a clear transitional record, many consider British electronic duo Authechre's LP5 to be their best, as it's the one album fans of their earlier melodic techno work and later, highly percussive experimental work both seem to love. Rae here, my personal fav from the record, is a very good representative of what's found on the album in full. 

11. The House Song - The Beta Band: Our final two tracks from The Three EPs come from The Patty Patty Sound section of the album, starting with The House Song, the overall compilation's funkiest number. 

12. Light - Talvin Singh: Widely credited with pioneering the Asian Underground movement in electronic music, London producer and tabla-master Singh got the ball rolling in 1998 with his highly regarded debut OK, which would go on to win that year's Mercury prize for best music recording in the United Kingdom. 

13. Consume - Plastikman: One of my favorite electronic albums of 1998, Consumed found Windsor-Canada DJ Rickie Hawtin steering his minimalist techno in a more darkly mysterious ambient direction for his fourth outing under his Plastikman alter ego.  Full of deep-as-the-ocean bass grooves adorned with the slightest of eerie synth washes, it's a highly immersive listening experience, almost completely devoid of dance floor appeal, that really plays as one long, rumbling composition. That said, certain moments definitely stand out, like second track Consume featured here.

14. Vuli Ndlela - Brenda Fassie: By 1997, South Africa's beloved anti-apartheid crusader and provocative live performer Brenda Fassie (aka Ma Brr, aka "Madonna Of The Townships" aka "The Queen Of Afropop) had been long battling a devastating cocaine addiction that would land her in rehab over thirty times and take her life just a few years later, but somehow, she remained able to compartmentalize her demons and still produce music at a high level, as Memeza, not released in the States until 1998, was the top selling album of 1997 in South Africa. 

15. Glim - Mouse On Mars: Originally composed as a soundtrack for a film of the same name, Glam - the 1998 effort of the still active German electronic duo of Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma - was rejected by the NC-17 film's director, art house infant terrible and Ali McGraw/Robert Evans son Josh Evans, and became duo's fifth proper release under their own Mouse On Mars name instead. In a nice turnabout, Glam the album is the far more revered of the two efforts today, featuring a number of stirring, near ambient compositions like Glim presented here. 

16. Ida - Rachid Taha: Though hard-partying, French-Algerian poly-stylist Rachid Taha had been a staple in France's rock and punk scene for over a decade, it would be a return to his Algerian musical roots that would provide his huge commercial breakthrough. For his 1998 fifth album Diwan, Taha ditched the punk work of his past (as well as any original compositions) for a stirring set of modernized covers of the Algerian and Arabic folk songs that informed his childhood years. Arranged with a perfectly modulated mix of classic rock and middle eastern instrumentation, it would introduce a hybrid sound that would power Taha's career for years to come. 

17. This Time - Herbert: Here's one more from Matthew Herbert's 1998 sample fest Around The House, the otherwise breezy record's most driving and intense number This Time.

18. Dormir Sonando - El Gran Silencio: An early local hit for Monterey, Mexico's El Gran Silencio, taken from the enduring barrio-celebrating act's 1998 major label debut Libres Y Locos.

19. Telephasic Workshop - Boards Of Canada: Here's another favorite from Boards Of Canada's landmark debut Music Has The Right To Children, this selection emphasizing the band's affection for, and warped reimagining of, hip hop beats. 

20. La nuit je mens - Alain Bashung: Chanson specialist Alain Bashung (considered by many the second most important French rock artist ever after Serge Gainsbourg) had been at things for quite a while before releasing his tenth studio album Fantaisie Militaire, but the awesomely Nick Cave-ish Militaire is the album that, pun-intended, blew things up for Bashung. It won every conceivable French music award that year, and is still regarded as one of the 10 best French rock releases in history. And leading the charge for the album was this sleazy pick-up single La suit je mens - which in English translates to "At Night I Lie."

21. Swung From The Gutters - Tortoise: As we did with Herbert's Around the House, after profiling one of TNT's most effervescent numbers with first selection I Set My Face To The Hillside, we take a listen to one of the album's heaviest numbers here in Swung From The Gutters. 

22. Luna y sol - Manu Chao: For our second inclusion from Clandestino, one of my personal favs, the celebratory, mariachi-driven Luna y sol. 

23. Authentic Celestial Music - Dirty Three: The Dirty Three are a long-running instrumental rock trio out of Australia anchored around the violin of future Bad Seed and Grinderman member Warren Ellis. Part jazz rock, part post rock, they have an organic sound considered well meshed to the vast natural grandeur of their homeland, as the epic build Authentic Celestial Music here from their fifth full-length Ocean Songs makes clear.

24. La Copa De Europa - Los Planetas: We've already featured tighter singles from Spain's Los Planetas on our Early Indies / Aging Alts mix, and Nancy will be profiling the band's all-time greatest song on her upcoming Favorites mix, but here we celebrate the art-rockers ability to stretch things out, in the epic La Copa De Europa from their third full-length Una Semana En El Motor De Un Autobus.

25. She's The One - The Beta Band: One last oddball number from the Beta Band's joyously amorphous The Three EPs to close things out. Listening to this, it's easy to understand how the members of Radiohead and Oasis became so enamored with these Scottish lads.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

McQ's Best Of 1998 Vol 8 - Hip Hop v Rap Rock

1998 was a dynamic, transitional year for hip hop, the year the genre finally shook free from the East Coast/West Coast tensions that had dominated the previous two and led to the assassinations of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G..

In those shootings' wake, a new generation of East Coast/West Coast hip hop stars, stars that actually got along, emerged (DMX, Big Pun, N.O.R.E., Black Star, etc.), joined by a pair of flyover state artists (Outkast, Jay-Z) who suddenly found themselves atop the rap heap.

And while all this was going on, rock's aggressive attempt to appropriate hip hop's trappings to its own ends was in full swing.

It all led to one of the most exciting years in the genre's history, and many of the 1998's biggest and greatest efforts are included here.

Here's the Spotify link! Enjoy!

About The Artists/Albums/Songs/Represented On This Mix:

1. Rosa Parks - Outkast: Aquemini's most popular song and biggest hit, it was loved by nearly all, except Rosa Parks herself, who sued the act for misappropriation of character, feeling the song was more a bravado diss of other hip hop acts than a celebration of Parks' civil rights stand. Later, Parks' family members would intimate to Big Boi and Andre that while Parks truly didn't care for the song, the lawsuit was primarily driven by Parks' opportunistic lawyers.

2. Definition - Black Star: The fates of Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur weigh heavy on the minds on Mos Def & Talib Kweli as the duo lays out their hope/vision for their future in this lead single from their classic debut Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, which set a new standard at the time of its release for thoughtfulness and introspection in New York's gangster-dominated hip hop scene. 

3. Naxalite - Asian Dub Foundation: Militantly celebrating the Indian communist movement, this so cool lead single from sitar-wielding British big beat outfit Asian Dub Foundation's Mercury-Prize-nominated second album Rafi's Revenge could have just as easily gone on our Trip Hoppin' To Those Big Beats mix, but the song has such a rap-rock feel, I include it here. If you dig this one, be sure to also check out the album's other major song, the hard-edge collaboration with Primal Scream, Free Saptal Ram.

4. B.I. Vs. Friendship - Gang Starr: Powered by one of the most swaggering hip hop beats of 1998, B.I. Vs. Friendship just barely beats out You Know My Steez as the first of two representative cuts here from vaunted Brooklyn hip hop duo Gang Starr's fifth album Moment Of Truth

5. Cowboy - Kid Rock: Full disclosure, prior to diving in to my listening research for these1998 mixes, I had always been dismissive of Kid Rock. Well, color me foolish. I had no idea his fourth album Devil Without A Cause rocks as hard and well as it does, but it does just that, knocking out one badass Rage Against The Machine-caliber riff after another.  Also one of the first records to attempt to merge hip hop and country influences, Cowboy presented here is now considered the first country-rap song ever. 

6. Still Not A Player - Big Pun: I wasn't too tuned in to hip hop in 1998, but I have to say that in my look back at the genre, Bronx-born Big Punisher, one of hip hop's first Hispanic MC's, emerged as one of my favorite discoveries. Still Not A Player here was the lead single from Big Pun's debut album Capital Punishment. Sadly, Pun would pass in just another eighteen or so months right as his career was taking off, a victim of his life long struggle with obesity.

7. Money Ain't A Thang - Jermaine Dupri & Jay-Z: Though most assume this well known hip-hop hit is a Jay-Z song (a thought supported by Jay-Z's inclusion of the song as a bonus track on Jay-Z's Vol 2... Hard Knock Life and multiple greatest hits compilations), the song is actually a Jermaine Dupri composition that originally appeared on Dupri's debut Life In 1472

8. Push The Button - Money Mark: Often considered the fourth Beastie Boy, Detroit-born keyboardist/producer Mark Ramos-Nashita (aka Money Mark) experienced one of his best solo years as well in 1998 with his wildly eclectic second full-length Push The Button. Nancy will have more to share from Push The Button's poppier side on her upcoming mix, but here we focus on Money Mark's trademark talent for creating hilarious retro beats, well on display with the album's silly title track here.

9. Superthug - N.O.R.E.: Following the return to jail of his partner MC Capone, with whom N.O.R.E. had produced one of 1997's biggest hip-hop albums The War Report, Victor Santiago, Jr. (aka Noreaga, and then later N.O.R.E.) had no choice but to go it alone for his follow up, 1998 solo debut N.O.R.E. That album, which embraced a more modern production style than The War Report, was an even bigger success, buoyed by monster #1 hip hop hits like Superthug here. N.O.R.E.'s biggest selling single to date, it did even more for song producers The Neptunes, establishing them as one of the most in-demand hip hop production-teams over the next decade. 

10. Remote Control - Beastie Boys: Though not as celebrated as Hello Nasty's other three singles, Remote Control has always been my personal favorite from the Beastie Boy's dynamic, genre-hopping fifth release. 

11. Get At Me Dog - DMX: Rising up as New York's toughest, most lyrically in-your-face hip hop option in the wake of the Biggie/Tupac killings, DMX had his biggest year in 1998, which featured the release of not just his debut It's Dark And Hell Is Hot, represented here by the tough-as-nails Get At Me Dog, but his excellent sophomore effort Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood as well.

12. Love Unlimited - Fun Lovin' Criminals: One of the most satirical and eccentric acts to ever flirt with hip hop/rock hybrids, New York trio Fun Lovin' Criminal's goofy Barry White-celebrating hit from their second album 100% Columbian takes homaging a step further than most, utilizing Mr. White's own regular supporting players to provide Love Unlimited's backing vocals.

13. Slump - Outkast: With hits Rosa Parks and Spottieottiedopalicious bookending our three selections here from Outkast's Aquemini, the middle choice goes to my favorite deep cut from the album, funky slow groove Slump and its irresistibly loose backing vocals. 

14. Boo Boo'n - Devin The Dude: Possibly the wittiest and most off-beat hip hop artist to emerge from rap's freshman class of 1998, Houston-based, former competitive breakdancer and Odd Squad/Facemob member Devin Copeland scored the first minor hit of his still ongoing career with this "sh*tty" ditty from his solo debut Devin The Dude, which finds Devin deciding to take care of more, shall we say "pressing," concerns, as opposed to getting caught up in the night-to-night drama of his local hip hop social scene.

15. Ha - Juvenile: After toiling for years and building a huge reputation in New Orleans' local hip hop community, Terius Gray (aka Juvenile) broke out nationally in 1998 with his quadruple platinum third full-length release 400 Degreez, which was powered by two monster singles - the Lil' Wayne collaboration Back That Azz Up, and our representative cut from the album, Ha

16. I Got One For Ya' - Kid Rock: No one is going to accuse Kid Rock of Kendrick Lamar-level, pulitzer prize-calibre thoughtfulness. In fact, Devil Without A Cause is at its absolute weakest in those few moments when Rock tries to get deep, sensitive, or insightful. So for our second representative cut from Kid Rock's Devil Without A Cause, I decided to go with the least "sensitive," number on the record, the grooving "f*** all of you" that is I Got One For Ya'.

17. Brown Skin Lady - Black Star: Our second cut from Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star is my favorite and smoothest from the album, the sister-championing, complexion-obsession-rejecting Brown Skin Lady.  

18. The Militia - Gang Starr: One of Moment Of Truth's most popular numbers, The Militia was always intended as the record's "posse" cut where Guru and DJ Premier planned to step back and let friends handle much of the vocal duties, hence the lengthy guest verses from Big Shug and Freddie Foxxx.

19. All For Self - Fun Loving' Criminals: As much as quirky hit Korean Bodega would be the natural second selection to include from 100% Columbian, I had to go with this killer Santana-ish rocker instead. All For Self is just the bomb. 

20. Can I Get A... - JAY Z: Originally released on the Def Jam soundtrack for the 1998 Chris Tucker/Jackie Chan movie Rush Hour, the girlfriend-challenging Can I Get A... was also the lead single for Jay Z's third full-length release Vol 2... Hard Knock Life, the best-selling album of his career.

21. Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are) - Pras:  Intended as just a duet between himself and up-and-coming vocalist Mya, Pras's solo debut title track got an unexpected assist when Wu Tan's Ol' Dirty Bastard accidentally stumbled into the their recording suite one day and upon hearing the track, ask if he could be a part of it.  The song would go on to be the former Fugee's biggest solo hit, and was prominently featured in the Warren Beatty political satire Bulworth.

22. Intergalactic - Beastie Boys: The Beastie's Ad Rock is on record as feeling the sprawling Hello Nasty was the trio's best album, and the mainstream industry seemed to agree, bestowing spacey lead single Intergalactic with 1999's best rap performance by a duo or group award. 

23. Spottieottiedopalicious - Outkast: For our final Aquemini inclusion, the incomparable slow jam Spottieottiedopalicious, for my money one of the most immaculately produced tracks in the history of the hip hop genre. 

24. I Am The Bullgod - Kid Rock: One final selection from Kid Rock's Devil Without A Cause to close things out on a rocking note, my favorite cut from the record, the surging I Am The Bullgod

Saturday, October 26, 2019

McQ's Best Of 1998 Vol 7 - Sing Nice, Sing Mean, Sing Everything In Between!

1998's best singer-songwriter, folk, and more literate rock moments are the focus here in this celebration of the power of words and simple instrumentation merged.

Here's the Spotify Link! Enjoy!

About the Artists/Albums/Songs Featured on this Mix!

1. The Colour Of Spring - Mark Hollis: Though never intended this way, we begin our look back at 1998's best singer-songwriter efforts with selects from signature albums by two artists recently passed.  First up, the breathtakingly quiet opening track from Talk Talk frontman Mark Hollis's stunning eponymous debut. As intimate and spare as any record I've heard, Mark Hollis is not an album for every moment, but when you are in the specific mood for it, nothing else will do. Sadly, it wound up the only solo recording of Hollis's career.

2. Random Rules - Silver Jews: Stephen Malkmus returned to Silver Jews for the band's third outing, and the result was the most playful and varied record of the act's career, American Water. But this is Silver Jews here, so playful doesn't necessarily mean optimistic and upbeat, as is clear on this witty album opener that finds David Berman now accepting the undeniable randomness of life that so tortured him on the band's previous release The Natural Bridge.  

3. National Express - The Divine Comedy: The Divine Comedy remains active, but this delightfully tongue-in-cheek, old-fashioned 1998 number from their sixth album Fin De Siecle was the Neil Hannon-led North Ireland chamber pop outfit's biggest hit to date.

4. Car Wheels On A Gravel Road - Lucinda Williams: We've already featured a cut from Lucinda William's classic Car Wheels On A Gravel Road on our 1998 Best Of The Best, and Nancy pilfered from the record deep for her upcoming 1998 Favorites mix, but I felt it irresponsible to do a 1998 singer-songwriter mix and not include at least one track from the year's best effort in the genre. So how better to represent Car Wheels the album here than with its title track, the most critically lauded song on the record.

5. Painbirds - Sparklehorse: We've already profiled tracks from Sparklehorse's Good Morning, Spider on our Best Of The Best and Early Indie / Aging Alts mixes, but I couldn't let this amazing ballad from the album, my favorite of the record's many mellower tracks, go unrecognized

6. Everybody Here Wants You - Jeff Buckley: Double album Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk was the first posthumous release following Buckley's tragic Nashville drowning in May of 1997.  Comprised in large part of nearly completed tracks he had been working on with Television's Tom Verlaine but had then decided to rework, it's a frustratingly unfinished and uneven release, but multiple gems do exist, none more potent than his aching but wary love song for his charismatic girlfriend at the time, Joan As Police Woman front woman Joan Wasser. 

7. Cross Bones Style - Cat Power: Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to also include Metal Heart and Colors And The Kids, we're only profiling this chilling cut from Cat Power's Moon Pix, considered by many Chan Marshall's best album and one of the signature singer-songwriter recordings of the 90s. Recorded in Australia with members of the post-rock outfit the Dirty Three, it's one of '98's most haunting releases, which should be no surprise since Marshall claims most of the songs came to her in a single hour one night after waking from a horrific nightmare and grabbing her guitar to ward off an overwhelming sense of dread. Furthering the horror, Cross Bones Style itself references two orphans Cat Power had met while touring Africa, who had taken to sleeping in trees at night after their parents had been killed.

8. What Lack Of Love Has Done - Nick Lowe: By 1998, with the release of his endearing tenth solo effort Dig My Mood, Nick Lowe had fully moved on from the new wave/pub-rock scene he helped create in the late 70s/early 80s and embraced his newfound role as a gentle, old-fashioned troubadour. This sweet song here is one of my very favorites from this stage of his career, a musical path he continues to tread to this day.

9. Uncle Alvarez - Liz Phair: We've already profiled a bunch of tracks from Liz Phair's third studio release Whitechocolatespaceegg on our Mainstream Rocking Shite mix, but Phair has always been as much a singer/songwriter as she is a rock 'n' roller, so I wanted to include at least one song from the album here.

10. Babylon - David Gray: Crazy to think about, since singer-songwriter David Gray's White Ladder is now the 26th best selling album of all time (and the best selling album in Ireland ever), but the record actually needed to be released twice. It was first self-released by Gray on his own IHT Records label and bombed. It wasn't until Dave Matthew's label RTO picked it up and rereleased the record in 2000 and the song Babylon caught on that the album started to gain any traction. But once it did,  the album refused to let go, especially in England, where it remained in the UK's top-100 charts for thirty-four months straight. 

11. Bled White - Elliott Smith: XO, Elliott Smith's major label debut, has been declared one of the best albums of the 90s by multiple music rags over the years, and presently sits in the #9 spot for 1998 and #82 spot for the decade on aggregator www.acclaimedmusic.net. I have more conflicted feelings towards XO, which definitely possesses magic moments, but which also feels almost unbearably sleepy to me for significant stretches. Still, I wanted to include something, and Bled White was for me the obvious choice, even though critics usually rally around two other cuts, Baby Britain and Waltz #2

12. She's Your Cocaine - Tori Amos: Though it's a bit of a sinker that's most impactful on the first few listens when it's wild, Kate Bush-like daring overwhelms the senses, in the end, there's still tons appreciate on Tori Amos's adventurous 1998 release From The Choir Girl Hotel. Many excellent songs I considered including - Spark, Cruel, Raspberry Swirl, Liquid Diamonds - but in the end, the swaggering She's Your Cocaine served this mix best. 

13. Walt Whitman's Niece - Billy Bragg: Walt Whitman's Niece is my personal favorite from 1998's Mermaid Avenue, the delightful opening salvo in what would become Nora Guthrie's ongoing series of collaborations with Billy Bragg and Wilco to put her deceased folk-legend father Woody's enormous collection of previously unheard/unpublished lyrics to music. Billy Bragg is the stronger presence of the two acts on this debut volume, hence my decision to focus on one of his contributions here, but to hear Wilco's strongest effort from the album, be sure to check out our 1998 edition of Nancy's Favorites!

14. Love Too Soon - Pascal Comelade & PJ Harvey: A surprise hit from an unlikely but inspired collaboration between toy-piano-loving French avant-garde musician Pascal Comelade and the much younger PJ Harvey, it was the lead single on Comelade's 1998 album L'Argot Du Bruit and a rare blip of mainstream success in his decades long underground career. 

15. Nobody's Fault But My Own - Beck: We featured one of Mutations' most playful rock numbers, Tropicalia, on our Early Indie / Aging Alts mix. Here we turn to Mutations' best ballad and best song overall, Nobody's Fault But My Own, which in hindsight feels like a direct precursor to the James Taylor-inspired greatness of Sea Change that would follow four years later. 

16. The Sweetest Punch - Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach: Another song from an unlikely but inspired pairing of artists from different eras, The Sweetest Punch, by the narrowest of margins, is my favorite track from the 1998 Elvis Costello /Burt Bacharach collaboration Painted From Memory.  Here, the division of labor was quite clear, Bacharach wrote the songs, Costello sang the s*** out of them. 

17. Child Psychology - Black Box Recorder: Easily establishing the "mean" side for this Sing Nice, Sing Mean mix, Child Psychology from English rock trio Black Box Recorders' moody debut full-length England Made Me boasts one the bluntest, harshest "suck it up"-styled lyrics of the 90s, if not all time. So blunt and harsh, in fact, and delivered with such a casual lack of empathy, the song was banned from British radio and MTV at the time. 

18. April Fools - Rufus Wainwright: The lightest number from Loudon Wainwright/Kate McGarrigle scion Rufus Wainright's Dreamworks-produced eponymous debut, April Fools is the album's most accessible song, and the only track from the dancehall-flavored record to receive any sort of promotional push (a music video shot in part at Gwen Stefani's home of the time). For those intrigued by Wainwright's distinctly nostalgic sound, I highly recommend checking out the album's spare/lush bookends Foolish Love and Imaginary Love, the lovely tribute to his mother Beauty Markand the sly coming-out hint that is Danny Boy as well. 

19. The Wind - PJ Harvey: With apologies to A Perfect Day Elise, the best-selling single of Harvey's career, my personal favorite from Harvey's 1998 To Bring You My Love-follow-up LP Is This Desire? is Desire's weirdest track and second single, The Wind

20. Please Forgive Me - David Gray: One more hit here from David Gray's folktronic wonder White Ladder. For more from this record, be sure to hit our 1998 edition of Nancy's Favorites

21. Send In The Clouds - Silver Jews: American Water's most rocking number is also one of it's most wickedly funny ("I am the trick my mother played on the world" - "Why can't monsters get along with other monsters" - "Windex tears flow down the robot's face"). Such a shame we lost David Berman in 2019.

22. El President - Drugstore: The first hit for London's Isabel Moneiro-fronted dream-pop outfit Drugstore, this tribute to former Chilean president Salvatore Allende from the band's second album White Magic For Lovers got a big vocal assist from Radiohead's Thom Yorke, whom the Drugstore band members had become tight with after touring with Radiohead in 1995. 

23. Bobcaygeon - The Tragically Hip: This Phantom Power ode to the enduring power of love and the natural world to heal the soul, named after the rural community in the deep outskirts of Toronto where the song's burnt-out police officer protagonist retreats for the weekends, became one of the iconic staples of Ontario-rock darlings The Tragically Hips' illustrious career, and went on to win Canada's 2000 Juno Award for song of the year. 

24. Satisfied Mind - Jeff Buckley: As much as I enjoy Jeff Buckley, I've always been partial to his father Tim, if for no other reasons than Tim put out a lot more material in his also too-short life, and because Tim's very best recordings were originals, while most of Jeff's definitive moments are jaw-droppingly brilliant covers. Case in point - this unbelievable live version of the Joe "Red" Hayes/Jack Rhodes country-classic Satisfied Mind, which closes the Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk and also felt like the perfect closer for this mix.