When I was in the eighth grade, I spent the entirety of my holiday break working on an assignment for my English class. The assignment was open-ended, so I decided to tackle the one thing I had always wanted to do: Write up my top ten albums of the year list, along with my picks for the five worst. (It’s a format that has become pretty familiar.) It was my first — half-hearted, completely blind — attempt to elevate the thing I loved into something that really meant something.
The list itself has been lost to history (it was put together on a Smith-Corona word processor that only possessed enough memory to keep track of the document you were currently working on), but there are a handful of aspects about it I do remember very clearly. It definitely had an introduction that attempted to sum up the musical zeitgeist of 1995, which was mostly a rant against Hootie & the Blowfish, whose music I hated (still do, really).
I know I included Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy on the list even though it came out at the end of 1994, and the write-up for it was mostly an argument for its inclusion, as though anybody cared about the fake rules I had set upon myself and then immediately broke (I think I had to make the same argument for Bush’s Sixteen Stone, though I can’t remember if I included it on the list or just spent time obsessively defending it in other reviews). Collective Soul’s self-titled second album was in the top five, and I also know that Garbage’s self-titled debut was way up there. My really “edgy” pick was Flaming Lips’ Clouds Taste Metallic, which I discovered via the one-two punch of the BMG Music Service and Batman Forever.
The number one spot was controversial. My friend Zack got wind of what I was doing, and he started lobbying hard for me to name Rancid’s …And Out Come The Wolves the top long-player of the year, as though it would have actually had any kind of impact on anybody. Remember, this wasn’t even for a school paper or anything—this was going to be seen by me, my English teacher, and maybe my mom if she was curious enough. READ FULL STORY