#50 Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream (1991)
#49 Soul Asylum, Grave Dancers Union (1992)
I played the shit out of this one. Forget “Runaway Train”; “Somebody to Shove” would be in my top ten songs of the 90s. Maybe of all time.
#48 Ozzy Osbourne, No More Tears (1991)
Before he was a cartoon version of himself with no dignity, Ozzy actually knew how to make good metal. This is one of the best radio-friendly metal albums I’ve heard that doesn’t compromise its raaaaawwwkness.
#47 Elastica, Elastica (1994)
They enjoyed a very short window of US success, but I have loved this one forever.
#46 Old 97s, Wreck Your Life (1996)
If all country music sounded like this, I’d move to Alabama.
#45 Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Don’t Know How to Party (1993)
Remember those five minutes during the 90s when ska was popular? That never went away with me.
#44 Soundtrack, Velvet Goldmine (1998)
How I wish these artists were real.
#43 Placebo, Without You I’m Nothing (1998)
Without Placebo, I’m nothing.
#42 Beck, Odelay (1996)
Right before Beck got full of himself.
#41 Spoon, A Series of Sneaks (1998)
Indie rock patron saints.
#40 Sonic Youth, Goo (1990)
#39 Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream (1993)
#38 Death Cab for Cutie, Something About Airplanes (1998)
#37 Green Day, 1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours (1991)
#36 Garbage, Version 2.0 (1998)
#35 Soundtrack, Trainspotting (1996)
#34 Alice in Chains, Dirt (1992)
#33 Matthew Sweet, 100% Fun (1995)
#32 Pearl Jam, Ten (1991)
#31 Depeche Mode, Songs of Faith and Devotion (1993)
#30 Letters to Cleo, Wholesale Meats and Fish (1995)
I have no idea why they never made it huge.
#29 Sarah McLaughlin, Fumbling Towards Ecstacy (1994)
I never got to go to Lilith Fair!
#28 Fugazi, Repeater (1990)
#27 Fiona Apple, When the Pawn….(1998)
Oh, Fiona. Remember when heroin chic was in?
#26 Ash, 1977 (1996)
“Girl From Mars” will change your life.
#25 Chemical Brothers, Dig Your Own Hole (1995)
#24 Screeching Weasel, My Brain Hurts (1991)
The second best pop-punk album ever.
#23 Dar Williams, Mortal City (1996)
“Iowa” makes me cry everytime. I listened to the shit out of Dar in college.
#22 Built to Spill, Perfect from Now On (1997)
#21 Lillingtons, Death By Television (1999)
The best pop-punk album ever.
#20 Live, Secret Smanadhi (1997)
You may be surprised that I picked this over Throwing Copper, but I stand my ground. That one was more radio-friendly, this is more dark and complex. “Freaks” is a standout track/
#19 Bush, Sixteen Stone (1994)
The future Mr. Gwent Stefani really rocked the fuck out of this one. Although it is a great album, it marked grunge going into mainstream. When this came out runway models were already wearing flannel.
#18 Le Tigre, Le Tigre (1999)
My favorite queer synth-punk band…although I am not sure of others.
#17 Nada Surf, The Proximity Effect (1999)
I want to marry this band.
#16 Aimee Mann, Magnolia (1999)
This album is so good the movie was actually written based on the songs.
#15 The Pixies, Bossonova (1990)
At least when they broke up, they went out with a bang.
#14 Social Distortion, Social Distortion (1990)
Rockabilly revival. Tell me you can’t hear “Ball and Chain” without singing along.
#13 No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom (1995)
I don’t know how a pure ska band got to be the biggest pop band in the workd, but dammit Gwen stop that ego and make another ND record.
#12 Hole, Live Through This (1994)
Although this was conveniently released around the same time as her husband’s death, it didn’t matter if she was riding coattails or not. This album is pure 90s.
#11 Radiohead, Ok Computer (1995)
I blame all my depression on this album. This was, in my opinion, Radiohead’s pure genius product, and then it all went downhill from here.
#10 The Murder City Devils, Empty Bottles, Broken Hearts (1998)
Proof that you don’t need to be a good singer to be a good singer of the band. And that organs make awesome punk music. And that the base guitar is the most important instrument in the band. Too bad they broke up.
#9 The Dandy Warhols, Come Down (1997)
The DWs were supposedly supposed to be the next big thing. They took a little of grunge, a little of glam and a little of pop but it never caught on with a wide audience. They also get away with a weird dynamic: they mix acoustic sounds with electric guitars and the result is a full sound that is so good it makes me tingle.
#8 Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral (1994)
This was supposed to be the “mainstreaming” of industrial music. If anything, it showed that synthesizers weren’t just for bad pop bands. Trent Reznor = fucking genius. Any album where he sings “I wanna f**** you like an animal” is okay in my book.
#7 Guns n Roses, Use Your Illusion I & Use Your Illusion II (1991)
Ok, I cheated, this is two albums, but you can’t have one without the other. Sure, GNR was so misogynist and sexist it wasn’t even funny. And their glorified drugs and alcohol lifestyles wasn’t doing much to give them credibility as artists. But holy shit, could they go over the top without being ironic. Can we talk “November Rain”? Everyone, no matter what they were into, listened to that song about a zillion songs. They wrote the best rock songs I have ever heard.
#6 Tori Amos, Boys For Pele (1996)
Oh, Tori. There are true Tori fans and there are wannabes. The wannabes love Little Earthquakes and her poppy stuff. TRUE fans really understand Boys for Pele. In fact, I hated this when I first heard it. The more you listen, the more you see the genius. Tori is not just a “chick singer” she’s a fucking genius.
#5 Oasis, What’s the Story Morning Glory? (1995)
Oasis peaked very quickly, and were the next Beatles (in fact, I think they are better than the Beatles). “Wonderwall” is pure genius.
#4 Superdrag, Regretfully Yours (1996)
How in the holy crap are they not huge? They have the patent on fuzzy guitars and great melodies.
#3 Weezer, Pinkerton (1996)
The beginning of the end. Most people would pick their debut album as their best, but this is the pure genius one, and the biggest commercial failure. The band should have taken the cue there, and instead made three incredibly shitty albums. Rivers Cuomo poors his nerdy little heart out about his obsession with half-Japanese girls.
#2 Rancid, ….And Out Come the Wolves (1995)
Rancid rode the coattails of Green Day’s mainstream success but only the true informed know that they keep punk alive. Former members of Operation Ivy form a band that may be…even better? If only Tim Armstrong would stop hanging out with dumb celebs.
and, of course-
#1 Nirvana, Nevermind (1992)
Ok, I know, this is so expected and almost compulsory. But if a band single-handedly changes the direction of rock n’ roll and creates a new movement and a new way commercial music is produced, you can’t ignore it. Kurt Cobain was regarded as a savior, a hero, and a spokesperson, and ultimately that’s why he killed himself. Who knows if they would be making good music if they were still around? Still, nothing could live up to this.