Screaming Trees – Sweet Oblivion: #938 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Screaming Trees - Sweet Oblivion

Why is Screaming Trees’ Sweet Oblivion on my best 1,000 albums ever list?

It’s delicate (grunge?), but it all clicks.

What does Screaming Trees’ Sweet Oblivion mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?

I recently listened to Sweet Oblivion a bunch of times in succession while working on work stuff (as one does), and I noticed it had the particular and striking effect of getting better and more interesting upon each listen. I rarely give albums that I’m not already very familiar with that kind of attention these days, so I’m glad I was so nicely rewarded.

I think it’s perhaps easy to misread the album’s sound as muddy or unfocused, where really when it washes over you (or me, really, at the least) it has a nice grungy feel without being overly aggressive, psychedelic hard rock while not being jam band-y or annoying, and poppy enough to keep things interesting and focused.

It’s delicate (grunge?), but it all clicks.

Also, “Nearly Lost You” could hold its own as representing the grunge era and alt rock of the early 1990s if it had to. Which is to say, it’s good!

It’s got a hook and vocals that brings to mind Pearl Jam at its early best, but I honestly prefer Mark Lanegan’s vocals to Eddie Vedder’s much of time.

And here’s a vintage performance on Letterman back in the day.

See more on this topic (sort of) below, but I really wish I would have caught this performance back in my far gone youth days.

I absolutely adore the pop hook sitting on top of a psychedelic-y grunge jam on “For Celebrations Past.”

And the slow build of “Dollar Bill” gets better and better on each listen.

This album also sounds like

Start with Mark Lanegan, and then I’ll go with Soundgarden at Screaming Trees’ most aggressive, with a nice mix of Mudhoney, Pearl Jam, Green River, and Meat Puppets. Beat Happening is a nice one to throw in there for sure as well.

I haven’t thrown in any wacky pop culture stuff in a while, so speaking of “Dollar Bill,” here’s the fantastic “Dollar” Bill Stern, played by Kelly AuCoin on Showtime’s Billions.

While I spent a large chunk of my formative and high school years immersed in the “classic rock” era, the early ‘90s was a time where I made a hard pivot to getting into and strongly associating with contemporary music, and particularly alternative rock. Like so many others of my generation, alt rock spoke to me in a way that what had been the popular music of the era could not.

So it’s interesting thinking back to the very special moment that I had with relation to a song (“Magic Carpet Ride) from a very 1960s album – Steppenwolf’s The Second – in the spring of 1993, it’s actually the sound of bands like Screaming Trees and albums like Sweet Oblivion that were becoming much more important to me around that time.

But the truth is that as I headed out of high school on Long Island, New York and embarked happily away to the wilds of upstate New York and college life in Binghamton, New York, that I had not had the chance to discover Screaming Trees. That would come many years later, but its sound still somehow transports me back to 1992 nonetheless. Music is just funny that way.

Some stats & info about Screaming Trees – Sweet Oblivion

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Seattle Bands, Rock, Alternative Rock, Grunge, Hard Rock, Indie Rock, Psychedelic Rock
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating4 out of 5 stars
  • When was Sweet Oblivion released? 1992
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #938 out of 1,000

Screaming Trees’ Sweet Oblivion on Spotify

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.