1993, Music

Fuzzy (1993) by Grant Lee Buffalo

I decided to talk about this record, rather than any number of other records from 1988 and 1993, in part because Michael Stipe once claimed it was the best album of 1993. Now, I don’t necessarily share musical states with the lead singer of REM, but I do feel like he had an important role, once famous, of promoting deserving bands whom the world hadn’t quite discovered yet. And also his quote was so emphatic I kind of wanted to believe him.

Well, as with most hype, it sounds like I’m listening to a different record. Whatever caused Stipe’s praise and the effusive reviews on RYM I have not found.

For one thing, I can’t say I love the songs; Philips sense of melody is not great – it’s not terrible but it’s not great – and I don’t find his lyrics interesting enough to overcome either his lack of really strong melodies or his voice (which reminds me of too many other people).

But the aesthetic I get – caught somewhere between grunge and alt country, but with the country being replaced basically entirely by folk music influences instead, It’s a pretty unique aesthetic for the day and I can guess as to why it was so appealing to so many people.

It’s the aesthetic and the genre fusion that makes this record notable, as I don’t think the songs are strong enough. If it weren’t for that aesthetic, I might have not bothered with my three listens and moved on to something else. Can’t say the songs have held up over time.

7/10

  1. “The Shining Hour” – 3:53
  2. “Jupiter And Teardrop” – 5:57
  3. “Fuzzy” – 4:59
  4. “Wish You Well” – 3:30
  5. “The Hook” – 4:13
  6. “Soft Wolf Tread” – 2:52
  7. “Stars ‘N’ Stripes” – 4:43
  8. “Dixie Drug Store” – 5:07
  9. “America Snoring” – 3:39
  10. “Grace” – 6:15
  11. “You Just Have To Be Crazy” – 3:35
  • Grant-Lee Phillips: Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Vocals
  • Paul Kimble: Electric Bass Guitar, Piano
  • Joey Peters; Drums

PS The above is not to say the songs are bad or anything, just that they’re not so consistently strong as to make me love this. “Stars ‘n’ Stripes” has really grown on me and I think it’s the best thing here. But the songs are not at a consistently high level to match the aesthetic uniqueness.

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