#TBT: Forget 2009, here’s a look at 1999; Big Nope debuts tonight at OutrSpaces…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 2:13 pm December 12, 2019

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Everyone’s looking back on the ’10s decade as we close it out, and I will as well, but on this #TBT I thought it would be fun to look back at how we closed out the ’90s. And thus I give you…

1999: The Year in Music

Who remembers these guys?

Originally published in Lazy-i and The Reader, Jan. 6, 2000 — We can only hope that the current state of popular music in no way reflects what’s to come in the so-called “new millennium.” The 1900s were ushered out of our collective psyches under the rattle and hum of the worst possible soundtrack for the end of anything, let alone the ’90s.

If this year is remembered from a popular music standpoint, it will be for the rise of perhaps the two most vacant and uninteresting musical trends in recent memory: boy groups and Goon Rock.

It was impossible to ignore the rise of “boy groups,” such as Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, ‘N Sync (and the female equivalent — this year’s Debbie Gibson/Tiffany known as Britney Spears). Back in the heyday of New Kids on the Block, children (mostly young women) “ooohed” and “aaaahed” over those five post-pubescent, lip-synching wunderkids whose faces adorned such rough-hewed music publications as Tiger Beat and 16. Adults certainly didn’t take Menudo or the New Kids seriously. They smiled at the popularity of say, Vanilla Ice, and laughed warmly during the annual Christmas parties when little Jason or Caitlin would be dragged out to the living room in their footie pajamas to imitate the dance steps of their favorite Saturday morning cartoon boy groups. Soon, New Kids quietly disappeared into the “where are they now” category.

Things certainly have changed. Look at the year in review issue of Rolling Stone, regarded as one of the premium rock music journals of our day, and you’ll see large, full-page photos of Backstreet Boys lauded as one of the best groups of ’99. Throughout the year respected music publications have featured chin-rubbing analyses of the lyrical content of the latest ‘N Sync opus, along with embarrassing, sacrilegious comparisons of acts like 98 Degrees and Britney to the great musical artists of the ’50s. MTV, once (and very briefly) a bellwether for important pop musical trends, quickly found itself with its pants down, fondly stroking off the ‘N Sync boys during “serious interviews” in the TRL studios. It is painful to watch a once-respected rock journalist like Kurt Loder seriously interview five dancing puppets who haven’t written a single note of music, who in a time well-past would have been laughed off as the limp-syncing aerobic instructors that they are. A breathless following — not only of children but also mini-van-driving adults — has given boy groups credibility that before would have been reserved only for serious musicians.

Put simply, those sexy, soon-to-flameout boy groups ruled in ’99, but they weren’t alone.

Or these guys…

Rising from the ghettos of suburban Los Angeles and the posh, baggy-Gap-adorned mini-malls across the U.S. rose the dumbest of dumbed-down heavy-metal rawk. Call it “Goon Rock” for a lack of a better term. The playas: Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, the Kottonmouth Kings (note the bizarre use of the letter K in all these band names?) Insane Clown Posse and Eminem. The music: poorly played and conceptualized white-boy rap, where the constituents brag about being playas and “keeping it real” with such mundane lyrics as “I did it for the nookie/And you can take this cookie/And stick it up your Yeah.” Limp Bizkit is the fully realized commercialization of white-boy pseudo-urban music taken to new levels of oafishness. And the kids loved it.

It wasn’t all shit in ’99. There were a number of highlights, few of which were heard on your radio. Among the best CDs of the year:

1. Those Bastard Souls — Debt & Departure
2. Nine Inch Nails — The Fragile
3. Guster — Lost and Gone Forever
4. Burning Airlines — Mission Control
5. The Faint — Blank Wave Arcade
6. Pet Shop Boys — Nightlife
7. Pavement — Terror Twilight
8. Shannon Wright — Flight Safety
9. Built to Spill — Keep It Like a Secret
10. Reset — My Still Life
11. Folk Implosion — One Part Lullaby
12. Beck — Midnight Vultures

In addition to Reset and The Faint, other notable releases by local bands included Simon Joyner’s The Lousy Dance, (given a four-out-of-five rating in the latest issue of Alternative Press); Bright Eyes’ Every Day and Every Night EP (which, along with The Faint, continues to climb the CMJ charts), and Ravine’s soundtrack to the movie Killing Diva.

Saddle Creek Records’ bands continue to be the shining hope for relevance of the Omaha music scene. If 2000 sees any breakthroughs locally, it’ll come from Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), who will release a full-length CD this year that will push him to the next level of national exposure and acceptance. But before we get into predictions for 2000, let’s take a look at how I did last year. In my ’98 year-in-review column in The Reader, I predicted: the death of swing (hit!), a loud-then-soft reaction to a new Nine Inch Nails CD (hit again!), the rise of Oi! music (miss!), the continued rise in Internet music promotion (no duh!), another major Omaha signing a la Mulberry Lane (miss!), the opening of a new Omaha showcase lounge and the closing of a beloved one (The Music Box, although its yet to actually open its doors; the closing of the Stork Club, though I thought The Cog Factory would be the victim). Four for six, not too bad…

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God, I don’t miss the ’90s.

Meanwhile, back in 2019…

Tonight at OutrSpaces, 1258 So. 13th St., it’s the stage debut of Big Nope, the new project by See Through Dresses drummer (and now Criteria tour drummer) Nate Van Fleet. Nate’s taking the frontman position this time handling guitars and vocals, with Liv Baxter also on guitar, Aaron Lee on bass and Zachary Roland on drums.

The band has a two-song single on Bandcamp: “Never Going Outside” b/w “Grass is Greener,” recorded at Little Machine by Van Fleet and Matthew Carroll (also of See Through Dresses), mixed by studio wizard Ben Brodin at Hand Branch.

Bach Mai opens the show at 8 p.m. $10 suggested donation supports the artists.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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