College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1996, 12 and 11

possum
12. Possum Dixon, Star Maps

This is one of the albums that drove home for me that commercial alternative radio was going to follow a different path than my old, preferred home of college radio. Possum Dixon’s second full-length, Star Maps, was praised in many quarters, the band had a nifty radio hit with their previous record and they even had a major label backing them up. This was exactly the sort of release I expected us to jump on, all celebratory excitement. Instead, Star Maps was barely touched at the commercial station where I worked. The band only had one more album in them after this one, but marketplace indifference was hardly the only problem they faced. The wife of Rob Zabrecky, chief songwriter for the band, committed suicide during the recording of Star Maps and there were rife drug problems, that the new stress of the tragic situation only exacerbated. How much the personal turmoil seeped into the songs is open to debate. There was certainly a prevailing sense that some of the jokey cleverness of their first album was slipping away. The band officially broke up in 1999, with Zabrecky having an especially odd career afterlife, working as an actor (including a small part in Ryan Gosling’s upcoming directorial debut), a magician and an auctioneer.

lemnheads
11. The Lemonheads, Car Button Cloth

Let’s be real: Evan Dando was doomed from the moment he was included on one of People magazine’s yearly “50 Most Beautiful People” lists. At least his credibility was doomed, and further not helped by the handful of other articles that drew a straight line back to that feature, declaring, for example, his band the Lemonheads as “hot with the Sassy set.” “Indie cred” wasn’t really a term back then, but it was certainly a thing, and Dando couldn’t have shed it faster has he taken a big check to rename his band the Urban Outfitters. Of course, he might have been forgiven had he been making quality music. But after the creative peak of 1992’s It’s a Shame About Ray and the commercial success of their cover of “Mrs. Robinson” (recorded for the 25th anniversary home video release of The Graduate and later grafted onto copies of Ray), Dando’s songwriter grew less inspired. But the time he reached Car Button Cloth, the last album he owed Atlantic Records, it could seem like he was barely trying. Other than the occasional okay track, the album is pretty dire. This would be the last album under the Lemonheads moniker for a decade.

Previously…
An Introduction
–90 and 89: Antichrist Superstar and Three Snakes and One Charm
–88 and 87: No Code and Unplugged
–86 and 85: Greatest Hits Live and Gilded Stars and Zealous Hearts
–84 and 83: To the Faithful Departed and God’s Good Urges
–82 and 81: Billy Breathes and Sweet F.A.
–80 and 79: The Process and Test for Echo
–78 and 77: Supersexy Swingin’ Sounds and Breathe
–76 and 75: Bob Mould and Walking Wounded
–74 and 73: It’s Martini Time and Trainspotting soundtrack
–72 and 71: Aloha Via Satellite and Fever In Fever Out
–70 and 69: Hi My Name is Jonny and One Mississippi
–68 and 67: Everything Sucks and The Aeroplane Flies High
–66 and 65: First Band on the Moon and Razorblade Suitcase
–64 and 63: Comic Book Whore and Peachfuzz
–62 and 61: All Change and Rude Awakening
–60 and 59: 12 Golden Country Greats and Songs in the Key of X
–58 and 57: Brain Candy soundtrack and Pinkerton
–56 and 55: Sublime and Count the Days
–54 and 53: Wild Mood Swings and The Cult of Ray
–52 and 51: Bringing Down the Horse and Crash
–50 and 49: No Talking, Just Head and New Adventures in Hi-Fi
–48 and 47: Lay It Down and Pogue Mahone
–46 and 45: I’m with Stupid and XTORT
–44 and 43: Tango and …finally
–42 and 41: Good Weird Feeling and Mint 400
–40 and 39: Happy Nowhere and Not Fade Away (Remembering Buddy Holly)
–38 and 37: Turn the Radio Off and Electriclarryland
–36 and 35: Naughty Little Doggie and In Blue Cave
–34 and 33: Eventually and Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks
–32 and 31: Beautiful Girls soundtrack and Strat’s Got Your Tongue
–30 and 29: Upstroke for the Downfolk and Set the Twilight Reeling
–28 and 27: Born on a Pirate Ship and The Golden Age
–26 and 25: Ænima and Dead Man Walking soundtrack
–24 and 23: Victor and Songs for Pele
–22 and 21: Down on the Upside and Music for Our Mother Ocean
–20 and 19: Supercop soundtrack and Dust
–18 and 17: Remember and A Worm’s Life
–16 and 15: William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet and Saturday Morning: Cartoons’ Greatest Hits
–14 and 13: Down By the Old Mainstream and The Gray Race