Various Artists

The Buzz [Razor & Tie]

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A well-paced collection that, for many, will bring back memories of the (relatively) innocent days of the mid-1990s, THE BUZZ recalls a period when alternative rock was easing into its role as a major force on the pop charts. R.E.M.'s "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?," with its opaque lyrics and uncharacteristically distorted guitar riffs, still astonishes, while Toad the Wet Sprocket's gentle "All I Want" has aged into a damn good pop song. Semisonic's melancholy barroom ode "Closing Time" has also similarly improved with age, and the band's Minneapolis neighbors Soul Asylum remain both poignant and catchy on the thoughtful "Runaway Train." For some, THE BUZZ is an entertaining reminder of the way (some) things were, and, for others, it's an invaluable primer to '90s mainstream alt-rock.

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