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10 Great Rock Albums From the 1990's


    10 Great Rock Albums From The 1990's:

    1.) Pavement.
    Slanted and Enchanted.
    (1991).
    Released in the 1991, Slanted and Enchanted was the antithesis of the big hair, big money concept album. While grunge did its part to change the '80s music landscape by way of channeled angst and smashed guitars, Pavement mixed abstract, lo-fi pop with clever lyrics and raw slacker style. In this full-length debut album, Pavement seems to have its finger on the pulse of a generation made cynical by hollow corporate hype.

    2.) Sonic Youth.
    Dirty.
    (1992).
    After nearly ten years of celebrated obscurity, Sonic Youth rode the "alternative" rock wave of the early '90s to the brink of popular acclaim with Dirty, their most musically inclusive album to date. Songs such as "Sugar Cane", "100%" and "Wish Fulfillment" are now emblematic of those years to many, and contain a youthful energy that compliments the band's progressive style.

    3.) Smashing Pumpkins.
    Siamese Dream.
    (1993).
    This album is already a definitive rock classic despite being just over a decade old. Though the Pumpkins quickly imploded, they sound anything but impermanent on this breakout album. Big guitars crash and envelop singer Billy Corgan's nasal croon, and everything sounds serene, beautiful and maniacal at once.

    4.) Yo La Tengo.
    I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One.
    (1997).
    This highly eclectic album from one of most talented bands to emerge from the alt/indie rock scene of the last decade, features beautiful lyrics, melodic tape loops, a piano solo, a Beach Boys cover, harmonized duets, and lots of unchecked, chaotic feedback. Still, I Can Feel The Heart is a solid sum of its differing parts - one complex, rich personality.

    5.) Beck.
    Mellow Gold.
    (1994).
    Offbeat lyrics and unusual beats characterize this inventive and fantastically unique album about… well, nothing really. Soul sucking bosses, truck driving neighbors, proud proclamations of profound ineptitude? Oh yeah! Throw in a harmonica, a badly tuned acoustic guitar, and a spastic rap beat and you've got Mellow Gold. Few albums are this much fun.

    6.) My Bloody Valentine.
    Loveless.
    (1991).
    This effort from My Bloody Valentine is often considered to be the flagship album of the "shoegazer" guitar rock of the early '90's. However, like all great original works it transcends its own movement. MBV guitarist and mastermind Kevin Shields arranged layer upon layer of guitar and vocal tracks to give this album atmospheric murkiness and lush sonic depth.

    7.) Radiohead.
    OK Computer.
    (1997).
    A melancholy and occasionally quirky meditation on the de-humanizing impact of technology on modern culture, OK Computer transformed Radiohead from a group of guitar-rocking Brits into the world's most critically-acclaimed thinking man's band. Does the crushing weight of the techno-industrial complex make you want to curl up in a little ball and howl like a wounded animal? This album is for you.

    8.) Nirvana.
    Nevermind.
    (1991).
    More phenomenon than album, Nevermind propelled Nirvana into super-stardom, drenched FM radio with a number of noteworthy hit singles, including the anthem "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and convinced record company executives all over the nation that there might be some profit in "alternative" music. Hordes of imitators followed, but only Nirvana's tortured genius Kurt Cobain could cram a generation's worth of disappointment, spite, and self-loathing into a beautiful three-minute song that rocks.

    9.) Nine Inch Nails.
    The Downward Spiral.
    (1994).
    And speaking of self-loathing…Trent Reznor, the man behind Nine Inch Nails, merged guitar, industrial beats, and brutal lyrics to become the patron saint of angst-ridden teenagers. Released at the height of NIN's popularity, The Downward Spiral features songs such as the popular hit "Closer" as well as "Hurt" and "Mr. Self-Destruct."

    10.) Neutral Milk Hotel.
    In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.
    (1998).
    Unpredictable and universally poignant, Neutral Milk Hotel's excellent 1998 effort blends folk and psychedelic rock with a passionate narrative lyricism. A wide variety of instruments are utilized in this album and each evokes a distinct emotion, particularly in songs such as "Holland 1945," "King of Carrot Flowers, pt. 1," and the title track. This is truly a unique listening experience, and one worth having over and over again.

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