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It wasn't exactly fashionable to be a Ride fan in the early '90s. In certain nooks of the universe, wearing a Ride T-shirt meant you had to walk with your fists clenched, ready to defend your decrepit taste in music and do the pouncing before you got pounced upon. Often, you had to endure the taunts of your peers and the remainder of those who agreed with or were influenced by the majority of the British press who decided -- shortly after praising the band for their genius -- that they were ultimately a crap band. When it came to shoegaze, they weren't My Bloody Valentine, were they? As their tastes and influences changed and they began playing more "proper" rock & roll, they failed to write anything as anthemic as "Live Forever," right? Well to hell with all of that. In the nooks of the universe where it is okay to wear a Ride shirt, Nowhere is on par with Loveless for its own peculiar rush of swirling psychedelics and more prominent vocal hooks; Going Blank Again trumps Teenage Fanclub's Bandwagonesque because it exudes more power and focus; and 1994's Carnival of Light, with its roots in the Byrds and their ilk, is viewed more as prophecy than heresy. A copy of OX4: The Best of Ride is all you need for your defense now. Boasting a solid representation of each of Ride's albums, the band-selected compilation proves once and for all that Ride was one of the finest of the early '90s; they were capable of crafting brilliant melodies just as easily as their influences and competitors; and they never repeated themselves. So wear your Mark Gardener fringe with pride, blare "Unfamiliar" as loudly as possible, and keep Tarantula forever blocked from your memory. Andy Kellman

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