1996 might not have been one of the best years of the '90s but there's always great music to be found if you are willing to look for it.
A few years down the line from "Nevermind"'s commercial triumph, good rock bands were more likely to get dropped from major labels than to get signed, while indie labels suffered from losing their most successful acts. As a result, the output of guitar music suffered in the second half of the '90s, while at the same time there was an increase in the interest for dance floor-oriented synth music.
Our top two selections from 1996, though, could easily claim the title of "Single of the Year" in any year of the '90s, even at the height of alternative rock's gold rush at the start of the decade. Actually, I wish we had more songs like these in 2012, but since music in recent years is more focused on laptops than guitars, it's a good thing that both Sebadoh and Cat Power are making their comeback right now with new material. To hear Sebadoh's first EP of new material in over a decade you can check out their bandcamp page (there's no "Beauty Of The Ride" on the "Secret" EP, but it's still quite a good listen and I can confirm that the band is just as great live now as it was in its '90s heyday), while Cat Power is about to release the excellent "Sun" (streaming here now) next week. And the great news is that the new album has quite a few tracks that can stand their own next to the amazing "Nude as the News" (see also our recent Killer Tracks post here).
Check out below our Top 10 Singles of 1996 and go here for the complete Top 50:
1. Beauty Of The Ride - SEBADOH
2. Nude as the News - CAT POWER
3. Disco Six Six Six - GIRLS AGAINST BOYS
4. Honky's Ladder - THE AFGHAN WHIGS
5. Shark - THROWING MUSES
6. Easy Way Down - SNOWPONY
7. Teenage Angst - PLACEBO
8. Two Clear Eyes - GALLON DRUNK
9. Race - TIGER
10. Plug Myself In - D.O.S.E. featuring MARK E. SMITH
Listen to most of our selections from 1996 in the playlist below: