92 thoughts on “Spillyear 1999

  1. Despite the blurb, rich pickings for me here. My post-these-without-thinking-too-much-about-it Top 3:

    Macy Gray – The Letter (I didn’t actually pick up this album till the very end of the year, but it became a huge favourite, and a rare early excursion out of my indie comfort zone)

    Tindersticks – If You’re Looking For A Way Out (take a sad song and make it better… as in, even sadder. I saw the ‘Sticks touring this album while I was living in Greece, in a venue where I was close enough to touch Stuart Staples weirdly twitching right foot)

    Beth Orton – Sweetest Decline (because it’s gorgeous, and I listened to it a lot, and it reminds me of university in Canterbury and good friends)

    But I could easily have picked something from Wilco’s Summer Teeth, from The Soft Bulletin, from Bonnie Prince Billy’s debut, Hefner’s Hymn to the Cigarettes/Alcohol, or a dozen or two tracks off 69 Love Songs (although I didn’t discover that till a few years later).

    • I was visiting my parents in Kent – went to Canterbury for a break and visit some friends, was weirdly surprised to find 69 Love Songs in maybe a Virgin shop that had opened up since I’d last visited – cost me a small fortune – but bought on the spot and never regretted it – ‘all my little words’ is a pure beauty. I was having a major breakup with a splendid butterfly:
      “You are a splendid butterfly
      It is your wings that make you beautiful
      And I could make you fly away
      But I could never make you stay”

      for a song written just because he allegedly wanted to use the words ‘all the tea in China’ and created the song around it, is amazing. The ex used the unboyfriendable on me. We can laugh about it now!

      Your 3 choices are great too.

  2. then:
    Built to Spill – The Plan
    Wilco – Via Chicago
    Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – I see a darkness

    in retrospect:
    the complete Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs

    so, worst ever year in the history of pop music? no way!

    • Donds for Wilco (that’s probably the one I’d have picked) and BPB (ditto).

      I have a soft spot for Built to Spill because of the name, without ever having actually listened to them.

  3. Horribly dire. Nu-metal, nu-country, and crap hip-hop, save for some Nas and Jay Z. Still, a couple that aren’t just least worse, but that i actually love…

    RATM – Testify or Guerilla Radio
    RHCP – Californication or Scar Tissue
    Pavement – Spit on a Stranger or Carrot Rope
    Blur – Coffee and TV

    Retrospect donds for both Bonnie Prince Billy and Magnetic Fields.

    • Californication was everywhere, but I haven’t heard it for years. Great singles.

      13 is far from my favourite Blur album, but love “Coffee and TV”, “Tender”, “No Distance Left To Run”…

      • Coffee & TV is fab, tho I only realised that Coxon’s singing the word “sociability” in the chorus when I saw them on tv a few weeks ago, despite having heard the song 1 billion times.

      • I bought 69 Love Songs . . . a year later? Anyway, I (I’m now about to commit a RR hanging offence) I hated it. I didn’t want to listen to that sound; it wasn’t what I had wanted it to be. So, I returned it to the shop and paid the extra to get the Steely Dan “Citizen” box set. Love that box set, though I realise I’m probably alone in that…

    • …my least favourite Pavement album, but those two songs are great,”but “Major Leagues” would have been my pick…

      • Wilco and Magnetic Fields, two bands I am yet to get a handle on properly (apart from “Strange Powers” and the album it’s on). I think the enormity of their back catalogue makes it hard. Easy entry point anyone, please?

      • I haven’t managed to keep up with Wilco. “Summer Teeth” is certainly an easy entry point, though poppier than their other stuff I think.

        Magnetic Fields – just listen to 69 Love Songs (you too, Panthersan), preferably in its entirety (though not necessarily in one sitting). It’s one of a kind. It’s not so much an album of love songs as an album about love songs, pastiches of all sorts of different styles. It’s funny, playful, inventive, intellectual and occasionally heart-breaking. A lot of the songs seem throwaway, but the cumulative effect is more than the sum of its (many) parts somehow. (I should add, though, that it’s the only thing I own by them/him.)

    • My problem with RATM is their debut album. It was so well executed, and fully realized, that makes everything else they’ve put together redundant for me. They could have disbanded as soon as they left the studio and it wouldn’t have made any difference.

  4. I got engaged at the stroke of midnight 31 December 1999 at 11:59:59 PM. I was so nervous I almost forgot to pop the question. Two other couples at that club got hitched that night. One of them had a digital camera – state-of-the-art technology at that time – and promised to e-mail me a copy of the photo of all three couples showing off their engagement rings. Fifteen years later, and I’m still waiting.

    1) New Radicals – You Get What You Give – Big grandiose non-synthesized pop songs were becoming rare birds. Always had an Elton-in-his-prime sound to me.

    2) Red Hot Chili Peppers – All Around The World – I’ve loved songs with abrupt tempo shifts, and this one has it in spades.

    3) Static-X – Push It – Packs more energy in 2½ minutes than most songs do in four. Aptly described by the band as “evil disco.”

    • An ex of mine, who was a bit obsessed with me, subsequently had a fling with Gregg “New Radicals” Alexander, who was in turn a bit obsessed with him. I like to think that makes me (or made me, back in the day) more attractive than one-hit wonder popstars. There can be no higher accolade. Obvs.

    • It’s not quite a dond, but Static-X seemed to be one of the better nu-metal bands on Headbanger’s Ball. Which i admit to watching a bit of in the early millenium.

      • Nü-metal wasn’t all bad. (Just like hair metal, bro country, boy bands and other critically-hated musical formats weren’t all bad either.) At it’s best, it added a humourous edge that metal and hip hop were both lacking.

        “I’m With Stupid” (from 2000, natch) was one of the highlights: “And I grabbed my shovel and I took him down!”

  5. 1. The Flaming Lips: Buggin’
    2. Aphex Twin: Windowlicker
    3. Moby: Porcelain


    A. The Roots: You Got Me
    B. Shivaree: Goodnight Moon
    C. Sigur Ros…

    • Depending on who I was with, I spent large parts of 1999 listening to female country-pop stars, lots of Finnish pop and lots of Swedish artists. So a big “Hi” to Shania Twain memories . . . and The Crash, Kent, Tenhi, Giant Robot, Darude, Supperheads, Maija Vilkkumaa, Ultra Bra, Op:l Bastards, RinneRadio, Angelit, CMX, Vladislav Delay…

      I had a great time in 1999.

      I remember my Icelandic friend playing me Sigur Ros and him refusing to be impressed by anything I played him until Goldfrapp hit my record deck a year later

  6. Looking back, I think that 1999 was one of those years where dabce music was producing stuff that was a lot stronger than anything being produced by bands.I know that I was listening to a lot of Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim and similar sounds.

    So, I have to pick something from one of those. I was also listening to Wilco‘s Summerteeth for a lot of the year, so that has to be included. I was also listening to Texas a lot, not least because I had a huge crush on Sharleen Spiteri, so I really have to pick something from the Hush album

    Chemical Brothers – Hey Boy Hey Girl
    Wilco – Can’t Stand It
    Texas – Summer Son

    • Also, I’d have liked to pick something from From Here To Eternity, the posthumous live album from The Clash, but I got that for Christmas, and therefore wasn’t listening to it in 1999.

  7. Mogwai’s second album “Come On Die Young” came out in ’99, which is probably the opposite of pop music, but I did listen to it a heck of a lot.

    • It did, but I wasn’t listening to Mogwai in 1999, so I’d love to dond it, but unfortunately cannot, in all honestly.

  8. Three pop classics from ’99:

    “Flame” by Sebadoh. I have a recollection of Steve Lamaq playing this twice in a row on the radio because it was so awesome.
    “Unpretty” by TLC. A brilliant song, that me & a pal drunkenly committed a cover of to tape once in a lo-fi indie stylee.
    “Touch Sensitive” by The Fall. Ah know ah know ah know hey hey hey hey

    oh, and

    “Beautiful Stranger” by Madonna because Madge + Austin Powers were two of my favourite things of that time.

  9. I have a nagging feeling that I’m leaving out something I’ll remember later and be kicking myself. Still, these are my favourite tracks, I think, from albums I either bought in 1999 or soon after. In each case it’s the whole album that I love and I could have chosen other songs and been equally satisfied/uncertain. In Macy’s case this is especially true.

    Why Didn’t You Call Me – Macy Gray
    My Country – Randy Newman
    Afrika Shox – Leftfield

    I must say I’m disappointed that nobody has, yet, chosen anything by “the saviours of British rock”.

    It was a funny old year wasn’t it? We spent the whole twelve months thinking/talking about the next century.

      • Perfectly true – insofar as there’s any objective truth about it – but we still spent the whole year talking about it. I have seen a newspaper from Jan 1st 1901 which hailed the beginning of the 20th Century so we must have become more impatient as the years went by.

        • In work terms, I spent a large part of 1999 working on a series of projects to fix the Y2K “bug” on very large databases and with the programs and data extracts that populated and updated those databases. The word “bug” was a complete misnomer. It was really about ensuring that date fields were in DDMMYYYY format, not DDMMYY which had been the mainframe standard since the 1960s.

    • Mr Panther will be along shortly with love for them there saviours, I’m sure. For a little joooooy, for a little joy.

  10. Sigur Ros – Svefn-g-englar
    Emiliana Torrini – Unemployed In Summertime
    Mogwai – Stanley Kubrick

    Honorable mention for Blackalicious’ Alphabet Aerobics (think he’s coming to town soon, yay!). Built To Spill (Else), Bunnymen (Rust) & have some Tinderdonds.

  11. amy and tonnl have already picked my favourite ’99 tracks from Terror Twilight. It may not be their most adventurous album but it had some fine tunes, including the fragile Ann Don’t Cry.

    The only other 1999 albums I own are by Gomez and Catatonia. Make of that what you will.

    PavementAnn Don’t Cry
    GomezBlue Moon Rising
    CatatoniaShe’s A Millionaire

      • Had to Wiki that. Netflix is my only option and the UK version has a fraction of yours, so it’ll have to become must-see for it to migrate over here.
        The plot sounds similar to an Aussie series shown here last year called The Code (autism and corporate conspiracy) which borrowed its look from BB.
        Look out for Humans. (Look out for humans, too, of course. Tricky animals.)

      • Enjoying “Humans” although it’s a bit soapopery.

        Mr Robot is original as far as I can tell & even Christian Slater can”t spoil it. It’s been picked up for a 2nd season of 10, so it should show up over there, somewhere, sometime.

  12. I spent 1999 in a black hole (the first half of the year Little’Un was still in and out of hospital all the time and the rest of the year I don’t remember too well). So I will go with the music Germany was listening to that year (thank you, google-fu).

    Xavier Naidoo – Sie sieht mich nicht
    Guano Apes – Lords of the Boards
    Die fantastischen Vier – MfG

  13. Sounds like a good year to me – so much to dond – Mogwai (although I didn’t buy it until later on ‘cos I didn’t want to tarnish the perfection of ‘Young Team’ – I needn’t have worried, it’s a great album), Sigor Ros (just jaw-droppingly, breath-stoppingly beautiful when I first heard it), Chems, Aphex, Blur. Bonnie Billy, Lips, TLC, New Radicals (still love it if it comes on the radio) – all amazing stuff.

    So much stuff from my record shelves too. Anything on Satellite Records (Sand, Yossarian, Karamasov, Scott 4), Brothers in Sound, Regular Fries, Beta Band, Billy Mahonie, Rothko…

    I’ll go for:

    Gay Dad – To Earth With Love (how could i not?!)
    Campag Velocet – Drencom Velocet Synthemesc
    Love as Laughter – Stay Out of Jail (probably my favourite album of the year ‘Destination 2000’, I still listen to it a lot)

    All in all, a great year!

  14. At the risk of increasing my reputation as Mr. Negative (see Pink Floyd, The Sixties), I’m genuinely perplexed (and more than ready to be convinced and converted) at the adulation that gets heaped on The Magnetic Fields. At first I thought they were one of those bands (like Spoon) whose entire career is carried by middle-aged American rock critics, but it seems that real people like them too – and not just any real people, real people whose opinion I respect and usually chime with.

    I can’t put my finger on why they annoy me so much – but what little I’ve heard of their music just sounds so…..so…..I don’t know….smug? self-centred?boring?….I don’t know. As I said I’m ready to be converted, and any recommendations of tracks to listen to would be most welcome.

    • Hey, i don’t get the Flaming Lips. (Or Modest Mouse either, somehow those two bands get lumped together for me. No idea why.) Maybe i haven’t listened to enough, but what i’ve heard doesn’t entice me to delve in.

      • Amy – I think you’d like some of the earlier Flaming Lips stuff. ‘Clouds Taste Metallic’ is my favourite album of theirs. It’s much more sloppy, scuzzed out and stoned than their later stuff and all the better for it. Not too far off Parquet Courts or Tame Impala these days.

        No idea about Modest Mouse though!

    • See my reply to Blimpy above. The Magnetic Fields probably are smug, and there’s an intellectual, self-reflexive quality that I can see could be off-putting but I happen to like: 69 Love Songs has plenty of moving love songs, but they generally don’t feel like heartfelt, personal expressions of emotion so much as exercises in writing moving love songs. If that makes sense. A bit like The Beautiful South, who can provoke similar reactions.

      I stay for the lyrics: “It’s making me blue / Pantone 292”; rhyming Louvre, manouevre and Hoover. Will post some links if I get a moment.

      • 69 Love songs is an exercise in collecting love songs – it doesn’t really work as a triple album.
        What you need to be is the type of character that compiles playlists – then and only then will you appreciate the charm of the tracks – there are perfect songs on it to juxtapose next to others. But as a sit down and listen to the whole thing, you will only hear the technique and keep your own view as smug/ self-centred/ boring artist – because 69 songs in succession will sound just like that.

        Casiotone for the painfully alone are similar – it’s for people who mixtape – then the joy seeps in.

        Magnetic fields remind me of Of Montreal – yes, smug self centred, written by someone who really does know what they are doing – but with little external influence to pull the reigns in.
        But songs still click and resonate – despite thinking this is just an ‘egoists exercise’.

        I’m not going to try and sell it – it appeals to a certain mindset – not a band I’ve ever tried to convert anyone to, but specific songs; they will be different ones when my life experience hit a point when they collide – are what having the collection means.

      • Well…..I’m just listening to the end of it now and I have to say that Shane’s approach of seeing it as a collection of songs like a playlist or a mixtape helped a lot. There were quite a few tunes that were annoying and smug as predicted, but interspersed were a lot of good…no, great tunes. Knowing that a good one would be along soon, made listening to it as a whole album kind of fun in a strange way….I think I might be half-converted!

      • If you really want to weird yourself out – try his album Distortion – he seamed to have a bizarre idea to wake up one morning and write a Jesus and Mary Chain album.
        He didn’t!

        It’s still camp b’movie style deep voiced lyrics – but over – well distortion.
        Bloody odd – ‘sometimes’ I enjoy it.

        Have a listen to Magnetic Fields – Zombie Boy for instance.
        (Can’t do a link I’m setting up an art show)

    • I like them. But it may be a gay thing. I can’t believe I just said that – and I don’t mean it completely seriously, but there is an arch-borderline-campy sensibility about them that makes me smile. And some of their songs – the aforementioned All My Little Words, Papa Was A Rodeo, Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing – pull off the tricky feat of being both amusing and affecting – to me anyway.

      But I can see why they could irritate. (And I’ve never really got into any of their work other than 69 Love Songs, though Andrew In Drag I quite like.)

  15. Hmm… Well, my reaction to ‘Come On Die Young’ was, oh, what a shame, I loved ‘Young Team’ but this is a bit dull, so I’m inclined to agree with the “1999 was rubbish” vote – but what do I know? Actually by this point I was largely listening to jazz, so not entirely qualified to comment, but definite donds to the New Radicals. Other than that…

    Eminem, My Name Is
    Blondie, Maria (genuinely great come-back single, so there)
    Shania Twain, That Don’t Impress Me Much

      • On the alt side of rap:

        The Roots
        Mos Def
        Roots Manuva
        Handsome Boy Modeling Club
        Black Star Not a bad year. I expect that would be a good year for Steenbeck.

      • Roots Manuva and Handsome Boy Modeling Club are in my shortlist

        Bought Dr Dre album that year – disappointing except the Eminen collaboration – trouble was the ‘sale’ sticker was over the bit where it said ‘censored version’ – I played it and thought that the erratic blips and blank spaces was part of a Sheffield industrial cut up electronic album – rather than a rap album… (I was having another insane relationship episode so this sort of thing didn’t help).

      • All those bands/artists I discovered later, cept for HBMC and the Erykah Badu stuff with The Roots. I’m slowly coming round to the idea that 1999 wasn’t too bad in the end and a bit of a slow burner. “Be There” UNKLE was released in ’99, too and was the last vocal I loved without question from Ian Brown. Original version was 1998 and another relationship.

        Loved Maria. Saw Blondie that year with Clem Burke just sounding great.

      • Couple of weeks ago i was in someone’s car, and he had basic contemporary hip-hop playing, which was fine (much better than screeching females and synths), but meh. Then Blackstar came on and sounded great, blew the crap out of everything else. Of course he switched the station in the middle of it. Goddam kids.

      • amylee! He!He!Heeeh! I hate it when that happens. Half of a tune and it’s gone. After looking at Shane’s list and thinking “Oh! I have that. It’s ace!”, and also remembering that I have some other stuff, like The Herbaliser, at home, I’ve come to the conclusion that it wasn’t a bad year at all. But I do remember all the nu-metal boys sounding constipated. I also remember dancing to a lot of handbag house tunes. It’s just not a year I remember for new music and I didn’t love the main trends.

      • I think, as this thread proves, there was loads of good music – and that’s probably true for every year in recent decades, just because of the sheer quantity available. Some years throw up more classic records, others are interesting for the emergence of particular sounds and scenes, and the quality of the music on the charts can vary a lot. In that respect, some years are better than others. But no year where new music is being made can ever be a bad year for music.

        • The problem is that good is always a subjective word. It is really all about whether the music speaks to you or not. Nu-metal was a big phenomenon in the late 90s, and that was something that I disliked a lot. It seemed to be exclusively aimed at teenage boys.

      • I’ll take nu-metal over hair metal any day. I could listen to it in small doses if i had to. But there was nothing great about it either, with a few exceptions, there wasn’t really anything that grabbed me. I like some like Godsmack and the Deftones, a bit of Slipknot.

        Now nu-country had me running away screaming. (Sorry folks, but i loathe Shania Twain.) I think i like one Faith Hill song. I’d probably go for Alison Krause as the best of that batch.

  16. Easy first choice; I so love ‘Everybody’s Weird’ – an easy 13 track playlist of 1999 favourites follows:

    Everybody’s Weird dEUS The Ideal Crash 1999
    Your Revolution (Featuring Sarah Jones) DJ Vadim Life From The Other Side
    Eau d’ Bedroom Dancing Le Tigre Le Tigre 1999

    White No Sugar The Clint Boon Experience
    King Kong Regular fries
    Rock N’ Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This) Handsome Boy Modeling School
    Strange Behaviour Roots Manuva Brand New Second Hand 1999
    Pretty Good Day Loudon Wainwright III 1999
    All My Little Words The Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs, Vol. 1 1999
    Dans La Peau D’un Chef Bisso Na Bisso Racines…
    It’s Winter & You Don’t Love Me Anymore Casiotone For The Painfully Alone Answering Machine Music 1999
    Nothing To Declare Laptop Nothing To Declare 1999
    Dirge Death In Vegas The Contino Sessions 1999

    Here’s the playlist 1999

  17. No time to discuss or even narrow down, my 1999 was spent listening to:

    Santana – Put Your Lights On, including live at Mud Island Amphitheatre, Memphis.
    Chemical Brothers – Sunshine Underground
    Tom Cochrane – Marianne And Lenny
    Mogwai – CODY
    G. Love & Special Sauce – Kick Drum
    , ace but rude.
    Apollo 440 – Stadium Parking Lot
    Live – They Stood Up For Love
    but most of all, it was the year I was introduced to
    Dakota Suite.

    Didn’t find Sigur Ros until a bit later.

  18. I guess 3 from
    bonnie prince billy – death to everyone
    wilco – she’s a jar*
    the dismemberment plan – memory machine*
    shack – cornish town*
    deus – put the freaks up front or instant street
    sigur ros – staralfur
    supergrass – mary
    beck – sexx laws

    I got mogwai – cody. listened to it, liked it, but if I heard a track from it now I probably couldn’t tell you the name of it! I remember getting the Olivia tremor control album after a good review. thought it was awful but got into it a bit more years later. the dismemberment plan I picked on years later – I think pitchfork had it as one of their best albums of the year. I’ve tried and failed to get memory machine picked in RR a few times.

    the new radicals song was ubiquitous for a while. i’m afraid I hated it with a passion, and still do.

  19. Late to the party and shattered having been to Hampshire and back for a funeral. Can’t remember this morning let alone 1999, except that I was living in Huddersfield by then and working in Leeds – European funding – had reached the point of needing to change everything again and was building up to a career break to finish my degree. I wasn’t in a good place.

    All I can think of is the Chemical Brothers which are mentioned above. Might have been the year I stopped listening to new music for a while.

  20. There was loads of other stuff that could’ve made my list that keeps popping into my head eg.

    Sick On The Bus – Punk Police
    Steam Pig – Motorhead At 5am
    Bus Station Loonies – Bus Driver 7103 / Playing Silly Buggers

    Loads more as well. I’ve got mainly happy, probably highly selective memories of 1999. I lived in a shared house that was a cross between Peepshow and the Young Ones and was going to numerous gigs all over the place. Two nights stand out though bookending the year.
    One was my birthday. A mate organised a gig for this occasion and we booked three of my favourites bands (my favourite bands being the kind that are generally begging for gigs!). On the night my mates plied me with a total of 14 double whiskeys, and I woke up the next morning unable to remember anything past the second band coming on. Apparently I’d danced all the way through the set of the headliners, Short N Curlies , and then a few minutes after they’d come off stage went an asked them when they were going on!
    Another strange moment that night that I can remember was that the bassist of another band that I’d originally asked to play was at the gig. I’d phoned said bands singer only for him to tell me they’d split up. On the night my mate was chatting to the bassist and called me over and said “They haven’t split up”. “Who told you that?” asked the bassist. “Your singer”. This seemed to throw him slightly, as you might expect. I didn’t even know them particularly, so it was weird.
    The other night was when I put the Restarts on. A good gig , with the bonus of being given a single (see the track above) as thanks and then finding out that one of the songs on the other side (it was a split 7″ with another band) was clearly slagging off a mate of mine, which was very amusing. The main event though was when the Restarts and one of the support band the Mad Chiuauas stayed over. The Restarts were fine as houseguests, the Chiuauas were completely hammered and one of them ended up in a punch up with one of my housemates who’d been out clubbing , taken 30 Es, and wanted to played rave at full volume at 3am in the room where the bands were trying to sleep. Messy.
    It was a strange night all round. My housemate had staggered in wearing a white shirt that was covered in all sorts of gunk, as he’d fallen in the canal on the way home. “I don’t want to talk about it” he slurred angrily, before staggering upstairs, turning round and saying “Mate – I’ve got a very small brain!” and disappearing. I became good mates with him in the end, and I’ve just bumped into him for the first time in years. He’s calmed down a bit since then.
    Weirder still , one of the Restarts had gone clubbing with some people he knew and made his own way back to the house. He accepted a lift off a helpful stranger and asked him his name. “I’m called Dave, but people call me X-Ray Dave….because I see things…” When he got back he insisted I must know who X Ray Dave was, but alas to this day X Ray Dave remains a mystery.
    Happy days!

  21. Ignore this. RR is claiming I have a technical problem preventing me from commenting. I’m just checking if the same applies here.

  22. Not a particularly memorable year as far as hits were concerned…but I would have listened to these –
    Richard Thompson – Cooksferry Queen. From his Mock Tudor album. A gangsterish, Kray-like character is bewitched by a lovely hippie lady – and by what she supplies.
    The Dixie Chicks – Goodbye Earl. Revenge is taken on an abusive husband. All good murderous fun – and an amusing video.
    Tom Jones and the Divine Comedy – All Mine. Dramatic, romantic, totally OTT version of Portishead’s song.

    I’m afraid that’s it….

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