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Pop - Released January 1, 1994 | DGC

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Rock - Released June 1, 1997 | DGC

London-based indie rockers Linoleum managed two albums, beginning with 1997's Dissent, and, unfortunately, it couldn't manage to weather the (mostly negative) comparisons to Elastica that crept up in the first paragraph of each review. This is a real shame, because Linoleum not only formed years before Justine Frischmann's group did, they shared little other than a mixed-gender lineup and an interest in sexual politics with their better-known compatriots. Lazy reviewers might have more profitably compared Linoleum to '80s avant-funk feminists the Au Pairs or, most especially, turn of the '90s Liverpool shoegazers the Heart Throbs. Like the Heart Throbs, Linoleum drape their intelligent, often cutting lyrics in a miasmic haze of heavily processed guitars and keyboards. Lead singer/lyricist Caroline Finch's attractive, conversational voice is usually mixed well back, only coming forward on the choruses, where it's supported by bassist Emma Tornero's breathy harmonies. Finch and guitarist Paul Jones put atmosphere in front of melody, which is only a flaw on the few songs where the atmospherics aren't terribly engaging, but the best songs are those which combine the atmosphere with a memorable chorus or vocal melody. The album's high point is the clattering "Dangerous Shoes," which has the best chorus of the lot, though both "Marquis" and the atypically poppy "On a Tuesday" (which reappears in French as an unlisted bonus track at the end) are nearly its equal. Though a critical and commercial disappointment at the time, Dissent is the sort of album that bears rediscovery. ~ Stewart Mason
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Rock - Released May 1, 1991 | DGC

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Rock - Released January 1, 1993 | DGC

Frosting on the Beater opens with a thick wall of distorted guitars and booming drums kicking up a very melodic fuss behind Ken Stringfellow and Jonathan Auer's creamy-smooth harmonies on the psych-tinged "Dream All Day," and the track's sweet-and-sour blend immediately announces this is going to be a very different affair than the Posies' major-label debut, Dear 23. With noisy rock dude Don Fleming in the producer's chair, it came as no great surprise that Frosting on the Beater was a much harder-sounding album than the introspective Dear 23, but surprisingly enough, Fleming also knew how to make the most of the band's expert pop songwriting; with the tempos and guitars turned up, the tunes gained a needed physical impact that brought the melodies and hooks into the forefront, where they belonged. Just as importantly, the spot-on harmonies that were the highlight of Dear 23 were still very much in evidence, resting atop the piles of fuzzy guitar chords like a dollop of hot fudge poured over a big scoop of ice cream. And prior to this, who knew that Ken Stringfellow and Jonathan Auer could rock out so hard (and so well) on guitars? One could argue that the big guitar attack of Frosting on the Beater was simply the Posies' way of trying to compete with the grunge sweepstakes that briefly turned their hometown of Seattle into the center of the rock universe. But one listen also reveals that it transformed a smart but overly precious pop outfit into a hard-charging power pop band that gained a wealth of strength without giving up any of their smarts in the process -- not a bad bargain. ~ Mark Deming
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Rock - Released January 1, 1995 | DGC

After the regressive, low-key Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star, Sonic Youth appeared to be floundering somewhat, but Washing Machine erased any notion that the band had run out of things to say. Easily their most adventurous, challenging, and best record since Daydream Nation, the album finds Sonic Youth returning to the fearless exploration of their SST records, but the group has found a way to work that into tighter song structures. Not only are the songs more immediate than most of the material on their earlier records, the sound here is warm and open, making Washing Machine their most mature and welcoming record to date. It's not a commercial record, nor is it a pop record, but Washing Machine encompasses everything that made Sonic Youth innovators, and shows that they can continue to grow, finding new paths inside their signature sound. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 1994 | DGC

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Because the Roots were pioneering a new style during the early '90s, the band was forced to draw its own blueprints for its major-label debut album. It's not surprising then, that Do You Want More?!!!??! sounds more like a document of old-school hip-hop than contemporary rap. The album is based on loose grooves and laid-back improvisation, and where most hip-hoppers use samples to draw songs together and provide a chorus, the Roots just keep on jamming. The problem is that the Roots' jams begin to take the place of true songs, leaving most tracks with only that groove to speak for them. The notable exceptions -- "Mellow My Man" and "Datskat," among others -- use different strategies to command attention: the sounds of a human beatbox , the great keyboard work of Scott Storch, and contributions from several jazz players (trombonist Joshua Roseman, saxophonist Steve Coleman and vocalist Cassandra Wilson). By the close of the album, those tracks are what the listener remembers, not the lightweight grooves. ~ John Bush
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Pop - Released January 1, 1992 | DGC

Featuring gentle, folk-based guitars and pop melodies, the Sundays' second album isn't much of a sonic departure from their first album. While it does have several fine numbers, it doesn't have as many outstanding songs as Reading, Writing and Arithmetic; nevertheless, Blind will please most fans of the group. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2012 | DGC

For the Roots' second major-label album, the band apparently recognized the weaknesses of the debut, since there are several songs which provide more structure than previous jam-session efforts -- two even became R&B radio hits. But for all its successes, Illadelph Halflife mostly repeats the long-winded jams and loose improvisatory feel that characterized Do You Want More?!!!??!. And while these songs may sound great live (a field where the Roots excel over any other rap act), in a living-room setting listeners need hooks on which to focus. ~ John Bush
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Rock - Released January 1, 2011 | DGC

Featuring a selection of outtakes and B-sides from Geffen's powerhouse alternative roster, DGC Rarities, Vol. 1 is predictably a mixed bag. None of the bands -- including Nirvana, Weezer, Counting Crows, Hole, and Sonic Youth -- contribute their finest tracks, although Nirvana's "Pay to Play," a working version of "Stay Away," is certainly interesting, and Counting Crows' "Einstein of the Beach" is looser and better than anything on August and Everything After. There's a fair amount of diversity on the album -- nearly every band included has an identifiable, unique style -- but the uneven quality of the material keeps the record from being anything other than a curiosity. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 2010 | DGC

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Rock - Released January 1, 1994 | DGC

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
Whereas Dirty and its predecessors were loud, distorted, and bordering on the fine line between pop and noise, Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star did away with the ear-bleeding guitar feedback so often attributed to the group. The group retained its quirky twist on pop/rock song structures, moving even closer to a consistent use of the verse-chorus-verse template. Of course, the disregard for mosh-friendly guitar riffs, lack of crowd-surfing intensity, and increasing traces of normalcy killed a large part of the group's momentous surge in popular acceptance, damning them once again to the status of often misunderstood artists. Popular opinion may have wanted more rock than what Sonic Youth wanted to deliver on this album, yet upon careful inspection, Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star still out-noises the majority of its peers. Butch Vig's clean production makes the album seem clean, when in actuality it is nearly as dirty as the group's preceding effort. Songs such as "Starfield Road" and the acoustic song "Winner's Blues" emanate plenty of raw spontaneity, even with Vig's crystal clear production. Relative to Sonic Youth's greater body of work, the album does seem rather sedate, though. The noises resonate subtly rather than mangle one's eardrum. In sum, this record must be considered the closest the group has ever gone to straight-ahead pop/rock. With all of the feedback, murky production, incoherent song structuring, and rambunctious charisma stripped away, what remains are odd lyrics and unique guitar nuance. In other words, Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star features the underlying foundation of the group's music standing naked, without any of their traditionally excessive static to heighten it. ~ Jason Birchmeier
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1992 | DGC

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1994 | DGC

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2004 | DGC

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Rock - Released January 1, 1994 | DGC

Courtney Love completely revamped Hole before recording their second album, keeping only Eric Erlandson in the lineup. That is one of the reasons why Live Through This sounds so shockingly different from Pretty on the Inside, but the real reason is Love's desire to compete in the same commercial alternative rock arena as her husband, Kurt Cobain. In fact, many rumors have claimed that Cobain ghostwrote a substantial chunk of the album, and while that's unlikely, there's no denying that his patented stop-start dynamics, bare chords, and punk-pop melodies provide the blueprint for Live Through This. Love adds her signature rage and feminist rhetoric to the formula, but the lyrics that truly resonate are the ones that unintentionally predict Cobain's suicide. For all the raw pain of the lyrics, Live Through This rarely sounds raw because of the shiny production and the carefully considered dynamics. Despite this flaw, the album retains its power because it was one of the few records patterned on Nevermind that gets the formula right, with a set of gripping hooks and melodies that retain their power even if they follow the predictable grunge pattern. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 1, 1998 | DGC

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Pop - Released January 1, 1998 | DGC

Rock - Released January 1, 1998 | DGC

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According to party line, neither Beck nor Geffen ever intended Mutations to be considered as the official follow-up to Odelay, his Grammy-winning breakthrough. It was more like One Foot in the Grave, designed to be an off-kilter, subdued collection of acoustic-based songs pitched halfway between psychedelic country blues and lo-fi folk. The presence of producer Nigel Godrich, the man who helmed Radiohead's acclaimed OK Computer, makes such claims dubious. Godrich is not a slick producer, but he's no Calvin Johnson, either, and Mutations has an appropriately clean, trippy feel. There's little question that with the blues, country, psych, bossa nova, and folk that comprise it, Mutations was never meant to be a commercial endeavor -- there's no floor-shaker like "Where It's At," and it doesn't trade in the junk culture that brought Odelay to life. Recording with his touring band -- marking the first time he has entered the studio with a live band -- does result in a different sound, but it's not so much a departure as it is a side road that is going in the same direction. None of the songs explore new territory, but they're rich, lyrically and musically. There's an off-the-cuff wit to the songwriting, especially on "Canceled Check" and "Bottle of Blues," and the performances are natural, relaxed, and laid-back, without ever sounding complacent. In fact, one of the nifty tricks of Mutations is how it sounds simple upon the first listen, then reveals more psychedelic layers upon each play. Beck is not only a startling songwriter -- his best songs are simultaneously modern and timeless -- he is a sharp record-maker, crafting albums that sound distinct and original, no matter how much they may borrow. In its own quiet, organic way, Mutations confirms this as much as either Mellow Gold or Odelay. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 1998 | DGC

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Rock - Released January 1, 1997 | DGC

It took the Sundays five years to deliver their third album, Static & Silence. Five years is a long time, especially in the quicksilver world of pop music, but the Sundays sound totally unbothered by their absence on Static & Silence. Instead of sounding labored and forced, the album is gentle and effortless, as if it were recorded five months after Blind instead of five years. In some ways, that's a disappointment -- it would have been nice for the duo to show some progression, considering all of their time off -- but the record delivers the pleasant, endearing jangle pop that is the Sundays' signature sound. There's certainly nothing as catchy as "Here's Where the Story Ends" on Static & Silence, and there aren't many songs that are instantly memorable, yet the album has a quiet charm that should satisfy most longtime fans. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine