The Smiths: Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want (1984)
I first became aware of the Smiths in 1985 when a friend who was far cooler than me took to wearing a “Meat Is Murder” t-shirt at every opportunity. I was a little intimidated by anything cool, and was still quietly playing The Cars. A Smiths singles collection later pointed out my glaring mistake, and I quickly found all their albums. These days when I listen to the Smiths, I sometimes wonder why I bother listening to any other music at all.
Sugar: Helpless (1992)
Another band where my ravings to friends appears to have caused their immediate demise (as with Pixies, Luna, Grant Lee Buffalo and others). Bob Mould’s Sugar signaled his return to a band format after a pair of solo albums. Loud with great melodies – what else do you need?
Sigur Rós: Ágætis byrjun (1999)
Icelandic for “A Good Beginning”, Ágætis byrjun was well named, as it brought Sigur Rós global attention and inclusion in high profile TV and movie soundtracks – Vanilla Sky, CSI and 24 to name a few. Variously labelled as cosmic rock, ambient rock, or whale rock, they have a reputation for stunning live performance. They’ve been on my top 5 to see live for years, and it looks like the wait is far from over.
Straitjacket Fits: Down In Splendour (1990)
One of Flying Nun’s greatest successes, Straitjacket Fits thrived on the contrast and diversity that their two songwriters brought to their music. Shayne Carter’s songs were generally known for their rough edges, while Andrew Brough preferred more sparkle. Eventually the differences led to conflict, and Brough left the band after a lengthy tour in 1991. “Down In Splendour” is from their 1990 album, “Melt”, and in 2001 was voted as number 32 in New Zealand’s top 100 songs of all time.