Let's Go Bowling, "Identity Crisis"
The final Let's Go Bowling album, Stay Tuned, feels a little like they were finally letting the commercial winds blow them along towards rock. While their previous records had been pretty traditional, this one definitely feels more of a piece with the other ska bands who were hitting it big. But, of course, by 2000 the commercial appetite for ska was collapsing, so if it was a bid for fame, it didn't really work out. My least favorite of the four records I have from them (there's apparently a debut out there that I've never heard).
The Feelies, "Fa Cé-La"
This is the debut single from the Feelies, who were one of the most influential bands in the rock underground, although they never made much of a commercial impact. A lot of the later post-punk rock would have nods towards this stuff, and they would get name checked in just about every interview with American underground rock bands for the next decade or two.
Less Than Jake, "The Science Of Selling Yourself Short"
Less Than Jake always made their bones by making music that was more punk than ska, and did it well. But they were perfectly capable of slowing it down when they wanted, and this is one of my favorite songs from them.
Black Happy, "Garlic"
Lotta horns today. We've introduced Black Happy before, but for those who missed it, they were ubiquitous for a while in Idaho and Washington, supporting basically every appropriate band who came through the place. And they always put on a great show. This is the first song on their first album, so I guess they really set the tone here. I'm sure that there were plenty of regional bands like this that people remember fondling but nobody else cares about, but this is one of mine.
The Mars Volta, "Drunkship of Laterns"
A thing that stands out about the first Mars Volta is the urgency of everything going on. There's so few moments when it doesn't sound like it's barreling from idea to idea, and you're just kind of hanging on for a ride. It's a kinetic album, and that's a lot of fun.