Before we hit the new millennium (which actually started in 2001, not 2000, but let’s just forget about that for a second) we were in a glorious decade called the nineties. Remember grunge music? Remember the Clinton affair? Remember Sharon, Lois, and Bram? Anyway, by the time the decade came to a close, grunge had morphed into post-grunge, the Clinton affair was yesterday’s news, and people finally realized that The Elephant Show had been cancelled way back in 1995. Those days seem distant now, but eleven years ago, there were people who were rocking out to the some of the awesome songs that I’ve listed here.

1. “Piano Lessons” by Porcupine Tree
It’s fitting that a song entitled “Piano Lessons” kicks off with a prominent piano riff. After that, the crunching guitars kick in. There’s a lot of stellar fretwork in this song. Here’s a link to the music video, but please note that it’s a shortened edit of the full song.

2. “Lying Awake” by Our Lady Peace
The lyrics of this song are a fierce tirade against televangelist Benny Hinn. Let’s face it: who wouldn’t rail against a wacko charlatan who claims to be able to heal the sick? However, the highlight of this song, as is the case with most of Our Lady Peace’s back catalogue, is Mike Turner’s guitar work.

3. “For What Reason” by Death Cab For Cutie
Death Cab For Cutie may have lost some fans when they sprung for a major label, but their sound hasn’t departed radically from their early days. “For What Reason” is a slice of relatively laid-back, jazz-inflected indie rock, and it feels right at home next to the band’s more recent material.

4. “Failing the Rorschach Test” by Matthew Good Band
“Hey raaaaaaaabbit!” If you’re a huge MGB fan, then you know what I’m talking about. If not, then you’ll have to listen to the song. The dark lyrics, the fuzzed-out staccato guitars, and the chugging drum beat give “Failing the Rorschach Test” a sinister feel. But the song really soars when it reaches its emotional coda, while Matthew Good sings, “I’m always here” repeatedly.

5. “Goodbye Sky Harbor” by Jimmy Eat World
Jimmy Eat World’s third studio album, Clarity, was an indie pop gem. It’s rare that a young band is so devoted to its craft that it makes every effort to get the exact combination of timbres required for each song. Instead of trying to twist their guitars and drum kits into making a poor facsimile of whatever sound they desired, they opted for bells, chimes, violins, Farfisa organs, and drum machines. The end result was a collection of songs that were at once fun and introspective, that pushed sonic boundaries but also sounded familiar. The album closed with “Goodbye Sky Harbor,” a sixteen-minute epic that starts off as a rousing indie rock anthem, but that slowly changes into an hypnotic dream pop piece, featuring several vocal lines overlapping each other. Jimmy Eat World is no three-chord pop-punk band, and this song is proof.

Well, that does it for 1999, which was a great year in music. 2010 hasn’t been so great yet (which I might discuss in an upcoming entry) but with the upcoming release of Jimmy Eat World’s new album, I expect things to get a whole lot better.

As usual, you might be able to find some of these songs on Grooveshark.

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