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Revisiting The Summer Of '93: Pop Charts; Violinist Sarah Neufeld

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Smashing Pumpkins' 'Siamese Dream.' Smashing Pumpkins' 'Siamese Dream.'

Join Soundcheck all this week as we revisit albums, singles and watershed moments that sizzled in the summer of 1993. Hear about landmark releases from Liz Phair, Biz Markie, Sheryl Crow, Smashing Pumpkins, Bjork, Nirvana, PJ Harvey and more. Plus, special guests join us to look back at movies, pop culture and city life from the steamy months of '93.

Chris Molanphy kicks things off with a look at the pop charts from May through September of that year. He sheds light on the big sellers, hit singles, and his personal favorites.

Then, Sarah Neufeld, the Montreal-based violinist most known for her playing with Arcade Fire, the Luyas, and Little Scream stops by the Soundcheck studio to perform songs from her adventurous new solo record, Hero Brother.

Plus: Where were you in the summer of ’93 and what were you listening to? Tell us your story at 866-939-1612, send us a message on Twitter or Facebook, or leave a comment below. 


Chris Molanphy and Sarah Neufeld

Summer of '93: What Was Happening On The Pop Charts

Chris Molanphy, chart columnist and NPR Music contributor, calls the summer of '93 a "dog's breakfast of assorted stuff." We're not exactly sure what that means -- but he says it's a good thing. On the charts, "there were two songs that dominated that summer -- one was by Janet Jackson, 'That's The Way Love Goes,'" he says. "And the other was a light reggae cover of the Elvis Presley classic 'Can't Help Falling In Love' by the reggae band UB40." 

Comments [13]

Violinist Sarah Neufeld: In The Studio

Hear composer and violinist Sarah Neufeld perform in the studio.

Comments [1]

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On Brighter Than The Sun, the unabashedly optimistic new album from the electro-pop songwriter Kyle Andrews.


Download This: Emanuel and the Fear

The chamber pop band Emanuel and the Fear plays at Mercury Lounge Monday. Download "Wooble."


Comments [29]

Jill from Upper West

I wasn't really into Numb off of Zooropa, but I loved Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car and Some Days Are Better Than Others! A friend was teaching me the bass and asked what song I wanted to learn. I put on Some Days Are Better Than Others, and he said the thing about great bass playing is that it sounds easy. Then told me to pick something else.

Jul. 18 2013 09:21 PM
Jill from Upper West

I wasn't really into Numb off of Zooropa, but I loved Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car and Some Days Are Better Than Others! A friend was teaching me the bass and asked what song I wanted to learn. I put on Some Days Are Better Than Others, and he said the thing about great bass playing is that it sounds easy. Then told me to pick something else.

Jul. 18 2013 09:21 PM
mary p from dontownn

1993 = Paul Westerberg 14 Songs

and Paul Westerberg at Irving Plaza - got in late but for free because the doorman liked green eyes.
One of the best live shows ever and I've been going to NYC shows since the Fillmore.

My father had died suddenly that month and I had just spent two weeks home in the EV on the floor of my apartment. I knew Westerberg was playing walking distance. Going was the best decision I made that year.I came back to myself and to life in the present. Rock and roll saved my life again.

Jul. 18 2013 01:20 PM
Oliver from Queens

So much good stuff from the summer of 93... it was the summer before my junior year of high school, and a time when new music absolutely seared itself into my brain. Music from that time of my life still provokes a really visceral, powerful response... a torrent of memories that almost becomes a physical sensation. Four things from that summer in particular stand out for me:

Frank Black - Frank Black - first solo album!
Alice in Chains - "What the Hell Have I?" from the Last Action Hero soundtrack - never saw the movie, but was addicted to the soundtrack
Midnight Oil - Earth and Sun and Moon (especially "Outbreak of Love")
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream - dominated my CD player at the end of summer, and still moves me today

Jul. 17 2013 09:38 PM
Annie from Brooklyn

In 1993 I had just graduated high school and was (quietly) freaking out about starting college in the fall. I recently attended my 20th high school reunion and the music played at the event was meant to be representative of the era and it was TERRIBLE. Thank god this show has reminded me of all the fantastic stuff that came out in those ever-so-important about-to-be-a-grown-up years! Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, Jane's Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Radiohead were all faves of course. But I have to admit that for me it was all about the cool amazing female vocalists: Bjork, Tori Amos, PJ Harvey... As a young woman about to embark on an independent adventure, they were pretty cool role models and certainly encouraged me to say what I felt and do what I wanted, no matter. Sigh. Overall, my generation had some awesome taste in music, I must say.

Jul. 17 2013 07:26 PM
Jon from Massapequa, NY

I was studying at UC San Diego, but flew back for the John Zorn 40th birthday events at the old Knitting Factory on Houston St .... saw/heard Naked City and Spillane!!!

Favorite albums at the time were Junior Brown: "Guit With It", Jellyfish: "Spilt Milk", Suede & Bjork's debut albums, Dwight Yoakum: "This Time", Frank Zappa: "Yellow Shark", Paul Westerberg: ""14 Songs", Arvo Pärt: "Te Deum", Cracker: "Kerosene Hat", Del McCroury: "A Deeper Shade of Blue", Cypress Hill "Black Sunday".

Jul. 16 2013 06:02 PM

I think that was the year I got a belly ring thanks to Aerosmith's video Cryin. Living in the West Village listening mainly to Liz Phair, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Mazzy Star. We were still making mixed tapes, but that was surely winding down (although I still have some).

Jul. 16 2013 05:16 PM
Damien from Brooklyn

If memory serves, Danzig, Megadeth, and Ministry all released new albums on the same day in August of 1993. Posterity might not have judged these records too kindly, but at the time it was the first occasion in my young life when three bands I really liked put out records and on the same day no less.

That spring and summer also saw Tool release Undertow and Fugazi In on the Kill Taker, two records that I still play to this day.

Jul. 16 2013 10:54 AM
Tyler from Tyler Nevins

Oh, the memories! I see the image you use in the promo for this show is the album cover for Smashing Pumpkins' "Siamese Dream", and indeed that album defines that era in my life. At this time I was 13 and about to start high school, and was just REALLY getting interested in music. My mom once told me that the music you listen to in your early teens sticks with you for the rest of your life in a way no other music ever will. In 1993, I was just learning the guitar and glued to my local alternative radio station. Siamese Dream is one album that I could listen to any time for the rest of my life, and it will always take me back to that formative time in my life. Thank you for this!!

Jul. 15 2013 09:45 PM
David from Upper West Side

So many great albums! Zooropa, of course, and David Bowie's underrated Black Tie, White Noise. Rid of Me by PJ Harvey! And August and Everything After by Counting Crows, When I Was a Boy by Jane Siberry, TAD's Inhaler and Morphine's Cure for Pain...a great year.

Jul. 15 2013 09:39 PM
Gordon from Madison, NJ

I was listening to the greatest soundtrack to the self-destruction and implosion of a relationship ever written, "Gentlemen" by The Afghan Whigs. Finer break-up music was never written.

Jul. 15 2013 09:26 PM
Mariya from Sherman, CT

Rhabjs for reminding me if what I was listening to in the summer of '93. I absolutely lived U2's Zooropa. In fact I'm going to dig out the CD and play it for my 4 year old tomorrow!

Jul. 15 2013 09:22 PM
Patrick from Teaneck, NJ

I was a freshman in high school living in Teaneck, NJ just outside of NYC. My summer rotation of albums was The Beastie Boys' Check Your Head (a year late), The Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream, The Breeders' Last Splash, and Dr. Dre's The Chronic.

Jul. 15 2013 07:39 PM
Pretzels from Reading, Penna.

Beginning in May 1993, "Regret" by New Order and the rest of their "Republic" album were on constant repeat as was Crowded House's "Woodface" and Trash Can Sinatra's "I've Seen Everthing." It was the soundtrack to my first, real falling in love at the end of my freshman year of college and those first few seconds of "Regret" still drag me right back to those late spring days.
What wasn't in heavy rotation in my dorm room at Northwestern but seemed to be everywhere else was Nirvana and The Spin Doctors. Thank god I had discovered Orbital and that infamous Brown Album by the fall or I might have started smashing stereos playing "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong."

Jul. 15 2013 04:44 PM
Tom Marlow from Staten Island

I was listening to Black 47's Fire of Freedom. Although it was relased in March of 2003 , Rockin' the Bronx & Funky Ceili were getting lots of airplay.

Jul. 15 2013 03:35 PM
Tom Marlow from Staten Island

I was listening to Black 47's Fire of Freedom. Although it was relased in March of 2003 , Rockin' the Bronx & Funky Ceili were getting lots of airplay.

Jul. 15 2013 03:35 PM
David from New York

Wow, summer of 1993. I was in rural Colorado, probably nervous about starting high school in the fall, and housebound when I couldn't get a ride to the mall. That meant I watched a lot of MTV, which I'm old enough to remember showing actual music videos, in those days. And there were some great songs that came out that year---Duran Duran's "Come Undone," tracks called "Creep" from bothe Radiohead and Stone Temple Pilots (TLC's song of the same name would come a year later), "Pets" from Porno for Pyros and "My Name Is Mud" from Primus, and I probably would have dropped everything each time the Cranberries' "Linger" came on. Almost certainly I didn't notice Aimee Mann's Whatever and Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville until years later, but I'd like to pretend I was that hip.

And you take the crunchy with the smooth: "Informer" by Snow and "Whoomp! There It Is" came out then, were both played a ton, and yeah, I can't pretend I was above that.

Jul. 15 2013 03:17 PM
Sequoia from Princeton

In the summer of '93 I had just gotten married to my Italian husband and so was back and forth between NYC and Rome. Listened to a lot of acid jazz, especially Icognito, the album was Deep Waters. Also listened to Jamiroquai and have not stopped listening since.

Jul. 15 2013 02:43 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

NO shame. Pet Shop Boys "Very" - was and is still one of the best albums of the 90's.

Their best album to date: Love, sexuality, "dancing naked to the right of spring."

Ironically - PSB had lost their mainstream US fan base by the time "Very" came out.

Jul. 15 2013 02:22 PM
Camille Fraser from New Jersey

I was saying farewell to my classmate Chris Molanphy,sadly rumpshaking to Whoomp! There it is! and desperately trying to get my hands on any hip hop that I could.

Jul. 15 2013 02:19 PM
Theresa Beyer from New York

I was listening to singer-songerwriters on WFUV in 1993. I don't remember if this was a summer album, but Dar William's The Honesty Room blew me away. He song "When I was a boy" spoke to my childhood.

Jul. 15 2013 02:12 PM
jeb from Williamsburg

I was listening to Loser, Beck's first big single, which exploded the assumed distinctions between indie, pop, hip-hop and just about every genre, which is now, basically, de rigeur.

Of course I probably learned of the single through radio, MTV, a fanzine or someone's older brother -- you know, the old-fashioned way of discovering new music, which was both frustrating and oddly magical.

Jul. 15 2013 02:09 PM

I was ten years old, at summer camp, and listening to "Pocketful of Kryptonite" on cassette almost every day. Catching an tiny glimpse of King Missile was heavenly.

Jul. 15 2013 02:06 PM
Kevin from Brooklyn

I was five and sitting in the backseat of my dad's car, driving back and forth to and from the beach.

A little late to the party, we were listening to R.E.M.'s 1991 'Out of Time' (and still do).

Jul. 15 2013 02:05 PM
Ray from Queens

Great music that summer, was in college and remember "hey jealousy" by the gin blossoms, Radiohead with Creep.
I agree with Monica in the comments, many great concert in NYC in those days ....RadioHead and the Breeders had a joint show at the Roseland Ballroom that fall

Jul. 15 2013 12:26 PM
Emily from Brooklyn, NY

I moved to NYC late that summer and was listening to Last Splash by the Breeders constantly. It was my perfect soundtrack.

Jul. 15 2013 12:03 PM
Sivan from Brooklyn, NY

I was 23 and living in what people would call the "Golden Age of Alternative Rock." I worked at Elektra Entertainment at the time, promoting bands like The Cure, The Sugar Cubes, Bjork, The Pixies, Metallica, and many others, to college and public radio stations nationwide. The objective: to top charts and cross over records into Top 40 radio!

Burned into my memory from that time was my boss, an executive at the label, waving his pointer finger at me to come into his office and close the door behind me. He then popped a cassette into his tape deck, turned the volume up as high as he could and said, "What you're about to hear is going to become the biggest College Radio hit of the decade." He pushed play and, in an instant, I was hearing Kim Deal plucking her bass strings... "...buttum buttum...buttum buttum..." And, there, hearing the hit instantly right before my very ears was the first official studio recording of Cannonball, by The Breeders.

Jul. 15 2013 10:45 AM
Monica from NYC

It was the summer I graduated from high school and I was listening to 'Come Undone' by Duran Duran. I grew up in NYC and had the time of my life going to concerts at the Academy, CBGBs, The Ritz....ahhhh good times.

Jul. 15 2013 10:23 AM

Hi- I was in my native NYC sweating in above 100 degree weather and calling out sick from my restaurant job as often as possible. My discman alternated between Stone Temple Pilots' Core, The Beatnuts, Who's The Man soundtrack and so much more!

Jul. 13 2013 03:55 AM

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