This article was originally published in Stereo Embers Magazine
Excuuuuuse me, citizens.
Undoubtedly I’m interrupting your all-important Game of Thrones marathons and/or “who shot first” debates. My bad. Let me help out right quick – Han shot first. It’s so clearly Han. Quit debating stupid shit. Plus, you really should be using your COVID-lockdown time to deliberate far more weighty issues – for instance, when will Wedge finally get his due?!
Come on, folks. Get it together.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to point out that we’re all currently living in a reality in which weeds of all shapes and sizes can and will be delivered to your doorstep. All the while, toilet paper is now contraband.
Oh, the humanity.
But I digress…
In this edition, we go headfirst-no-helmet into the wacky world of 90’s One Hit Wonders. Batten down the hatches, because this is gonna get bumpy as fuck.
As you may be well aware, my intentions are firmly rooted in the defense of our collective uncoolness. WE are not cool! And that’s perfectly acceptable. That said, some of what you are about to read might send you scurrying back to your Pixies records, which is also okay. Just give yourself permission to finally admit that most of those Pixies records aren’t holding up very well at all – just sayin’.
The 90’s were not at all kind to the One Hit Wonder. Bands and artists were chewed up and spit out in record numbers during this era.
The music business is fickle mistress, indeed.
Not only do I plan to highlight several highly overlooked and under-appreciated One Hit Wonders, but more importantly – the records on which they appear. It’s my contention that the following albums are worth a second look, even if the hit itself might make your skin crawl. Don’t be too scared though–it’s not like I’m going to trumpet the virtues of Seven Mary Three or anything crass like that…
Seven Mary Three/American Standard (1993):
The Hit: Cumbersome
Yup, this is real. Don’t fight it. Let is happen. It feels too damn good to stop. Seven Mary Three! Make no mistake; Cumbersome is a tough listen these days. It’s rough, people. As crazy as it sounds, American Standardis a really solid record. While Cumbersome cast the band in a Pearl Jam-like booby trap in which there was no escape, a wee bit more was going on with this band than meets the eye. If you can get past Jason Ross’s grungy yarl, you’ll be really surprised as to what’s blaring through your speakers. Ross was always far more aligned with Neil Young than Eddie Vedder and his songs have some great narrative throughlines as a result. There are easily 4-5 tunes on this disc that will shock you in the best way. How about this – go into your closet and grab your Nevermind T-shirt, put it on, and then give this record a spin. This just might cushion the blow.
Big Wreck/In Loving Memory of…(1997):
The Hit: The Oaf
If you do not know of Big Wreck or this record, than I have just done you the greatest kindness one human can do for another. Not only was The Oaf a truly magnificent single, but this album is right up there with the greatest debuts of the decade. Full fucking stop. You will crush so very hard on Guitar-God/Chris Cornell sound-a-like Ian Fletcher Thornley. The guy is magic. This record still sounds just as weird and wonderful as it ever did. It’s immaculate. Play. Loudly. Often.
The Breeders/Last Splash (1993):
The Hit: Cannonball
Two Deals for the price of one! The Breeders were always great (as was their love of drugs, as legend has it). You couldn’t escape Cannonball in 1993. That damn song was everywhere. Even now, as you are reading these words in real time, you are hearing that rumbly bass hook in your head. Am I right?! Such an archetypal 90’s tune in so many ways. The record itself holds up great, too. The Deal sisters were always fabulous together (Pixies be damned!). Just let this one play.
Shawn Mullins/Soul’s Core (1998):
The Hit: Lullaby
Shawn Mullins, ladies and gents! I always took his status as a OHW petty personally. The dude has countless awesome songs! The truest of craftsmen, Mullins was thrust momentarily into the spotlight off the back of Lullaby. Say what you will about that song specifically, the album Soul’s Core itself is a can’t miss delight. Mullins was always, and continues to be, a master storyteller and there are some spectacular tales spun all the way through this disc. Boy-oh-boy is this a great headphone record!
The La’s: (1990):
The Hit: There She Goes
There are a few select bands that really should bare the brunt of the blame for the Britpop detonation – the La’s may very well be the top of that list. There She Goes is pretty much a perfect song, no foolin’. The record at large is also a stunner. The band skiffles through song after jangle-tastic song. If it’s been a while since you dusted this one off, get on with that shit in a hurry.
The Hit: Feed the Tree
Most definitely not telling you anything that you don’t already know here. We all LOVE Tanya Donelly deeply and completely. Feed the Tree unsurprisingly still sounds amazeballs. The shocker here is that Star actually holds up way, way better than you’re likely to remember it. There are jams for days on this record. Also worth noting that Belly co-headlined with a little band called Radiohead in 1993. Rad right?!