Hey everyone, welcome to part two! Let's go!!
10.Foo Fighters, The Colour and the Shape, 1997
The sophomore album from these legends starts the second half of our countdown at number ten. It's one of their most accessible albums, and among most fans I know it's considered the best. They've made plenty of amazing songs since then, but this one just has something to do it. Everything from massive hits “Monkey Wrench” to “Everlong” still ring with clarity, and the other gems on the album dig deep to hit you. “Hey Johnny Park!” soars, while “My Hero” is a perfect example of what fathers aspire to be. This was the record they reached the first step of domination in rock music, and they've been steadily climbing ever since.
9.Tool, Aenima, 1996
People had been noticing California prog rock sensations Tool for little while before this, but “Aenima” was the record that took on an entirely different type of feeling. It's heavier, more sophistaced and a more non linear type of record. Certain tracks are extremely heavier and rooted in the collapse of the world around us(“Hooker with a Penis,” “Aenima), while other songs are as in your face and unforgiving as anything they've ever done. The song that stands out the most though is the perfect album closer in the shape of the epic winding road that is “Third Eye.” It's an amazing track, and set the stage for what the band would become.
8.Nine Inch Nails, the Downward Spiral, 1994
If there's an album on this list that made the world nearly instantly notice a band that were on the underground, it is without the doubt the pivotal move of Reznor's career, The Downward Spiral.” This music had never been experienced by a large audience, but the brilliance of TR and the tact he used to create a world in which everything is burned and erased stands as a stroke of genius. You'd NEVER hear this record get big radio play if it came out today, but it doesn't matter, because from here on out he could bring his specialized brand of industrial rock to the masses. The record cuts and bites where it needs to, and also can bring heartfelt pain and emotion in places you wouldn't expect it. We've discussed the brilliance of “The Fragile” before, but I leave it off today because of the enormous impact this album had on the shape of the band.
7. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless, 1994
The album which changed shoegaze forever, also stands as one of the most important albums ever. What Kevin shields brought to the table with the help of Colm,Debbie and Milinda, not only showed people that a thickly layered wall of noise could work, but the craft of songwriting and effortlessly textured beats stands atop every other album of the genre's heyday. It's still one of the best albums for pure music fans in the way that you can absorb it's heart and soul quite easily while being shown things you may have had no idea existed in the world of music before. The production on the album also has a way on mingling the thick with thr glossy in a way few others can, and that's why the album remains a highlight of the decade.
6.Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against the Machine, 1992
Maybe the beginning of a movement? More than likely this triumphant, rebellious album gave us the scope and hope for something better. Behind of the strength of Zack, Tom, Brad and Tim, Rage Against the Machine brought politicized rock music to an era that very much was in need of it. Beyond that though, the execution is pitch perfect, and brings the frustrations of the masses to a single rallying cry that many can live by. Song after song attack the bullshit foundations this country has become, while pointing out the hypocrisy of the privileged few and how it managed to keep down the salt of the earth. It's still a perfect album for a man or woman with a purpose, and brings power to those who need it most. “Know Your Enemy.”
5.Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness, 1995
While “Siamese Dreams” stands as the breakout album for the Chicago natives, “Mellon Collie” sees the band rocketing to the brilliance plateau they were destined for. Over the course of nearly two hours, they crush us with heavy riffs, abrasive lyrics, but also can hold with love and patience on other essential tracks. This was voted Time magazine's album of the year in 1995, and even after twenty years it's still the prime example of how good this band actually was. It's sprawling, deep, and executed in a way that only the Pumpkins are capable of. Corgan may have been the driving force and inspiration for the band, but they wouldn't be the Smashing Pumpkins without the other three core members.
An album so distancing and haunting, full of heart and soul only comes around so often, and to this day I've never heard a record so perfectly in tune with mortal sadness and blissful beats. Beth;s voice fills you with a cold sorrow that beautifully painful to witness, but at it's core “Dummy” stands as an album full of openness and balance in a world that is often anything but. Barrows and Gibbons are able to elicit full performances from each other and bring the world of Trip Hop to the masses. It's still one of the most awesome albums I've ever experienced, and it's a gift to music fans everywhere. “Roads” is poignantly full, while other songs emit various feelings perfectly through pain and tolerance.
3.Weezer, the Blue Album, 1994
With this first record, Weezer was able to bring pop sensibilities to rock audiences, and thus deliver one of the best records of the decade. The Blue Album as it's called is nearly everything a nerdy teenage boy could want from a band, even to this day. It has nods to amazing X-Men characters, frustrating moments with female counterparts, and it's also bitterly full of anger and resentment on songs like the forever classic “Say It Ain't So,” while the fun and buoyant “Buddy Holly” brings us back to the good old days of being Happy. Even album opener “My Name is Jonas” is a rocking song even after two decades. The album is immaculate, and always will be. Never forget how important a piece of art is, even if the band hasn't delivered something this amazing in years.
2.Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
This might be a stretch for some, but this record is one of the best of the decade, and because of that, it lands the number two spot on the best records of the 1990’s. Loosely based on the tortuous story of Anne Frank, we see Jeff Mangum and his fellow Louisiana natives dive into a world of horns, folk legends, and indie rock all at once. It all works in a wonderful conglomeration of verse, and his unique voice gives a sense of honesty and depth you don’t get all the time. At this point the whole album is a classic, and most hardcore fans know all of the words and nuances, but songs like the fast paced “Holland,1945” give strength while a song like “Oh Comely” and the “Two-Headed Boy”saga are so enraptured with tentative feelings of need and hopefulness that it’s difficult to properly understand how important these concepts must of been to the band, but that’s why this album is a landmark achievement and worthy of everyone’s time, even if it’s only for one listen.
1. Radiohead, OK Computer, 1997
While it might not seem like it at the time, this album took the world by shock and awe, and catapulted the band to the upper echelon of rock music. To this day, there’s no band more adventurous, and painfully perfect as the brothers Greenwood, Phil Selway, Thom Yorke and Ed O’Brien, more commonly known as Radiohead. During the early 90’s though, it was nothing like that at all. Initially thought of as one hit wonders, it’s this magnum opus that secured the future of the band for the rest of their careers. Since then it’s been a string of brilliantly popular albums, and they’ve shaped modern alternative indie music in a way no other single band is even capable of. From the creepy warnings of health in intermission track “Fitter Happier,” to the potency of “Paranoid Android,” and harbinger of doom that is “Electioneering,” this record has it all. As it approaches its twentieth birthday, the band is still going strong making thought provoking music for the masses, and it doesn’t seem like it’s even close to stopping. This doesn't happen often in this world, but these five souls should be doing exactly what they’re doing, and nothing else. They were meant to gift us with transcendent music, and I for one will be listening as long as they appear willing to grace us with it.
Thanks for reading, see you Friday
Landon Murray is a published writer and an avid lover of music, books and films. He's also a lover of the New Orleans Saints. He was born in 1982 and has a chainsaw tattoo on his arm.
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