90. ELASTICA- ELASTICA (1995)
Fast moving album filled with post-punk pop songs sung by the sexy-voiced Brit Justine Frischmann. Many riffs are copped (mainly from late 70’s post punk minimalists Wire) but Elastica makes them sound fresh anyway by delivering them with strut and attitude as well as hooks.
89. YO LA TENGO- PAINFUL (1993)
Yo La Tengo’s breakthrough album- does what they do best; combining beautiful stripped down ballads (ala Velvet Underground’s self titled album) with lengthy songs filled with feedback. They may have made one better album later in their career but “Painful” is their most concise.
88. GZA (GENIUS)-LIQUID SWORDS (1995)
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The Wu’s headiest MC releases his best album- filled with elaborate story raps and including every Wu-Tang member- though GZA remains the focal point.
87. THE JAYHAWKS- TOMORROW THE GREEN GRASS (1995)
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Last album featuring the beautiful harmonies of Gary Louris and Mark Olson before Olson split the band. A striking piece of alt country by this criminally underappreciated band from Minnesota.
86. BUILT TO SPILL- PERFECT FROM NOW ON (1997)
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Northwestern band goes from releasing two minute songs on a small indie label to releasing eight monster Neil Young & Crazy Horse style jams on “Perfect From Now On”- their major label debut. No cries of sell out here. Shortest track is 4:52 and Doug Martsch is the latest indie guitar God!
85. YO LA TENGO- I CAN HEAR THE HEART BEATING AS ONE (1997)
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This is arguably the Hoboken, NJ band’s best album- it gives the listener the feeling of a good old fashioned double album from the 70’s- and would have been if not for the 80 minute album length of cd’s. Yo La Tengo embraces every one of their diverse influences on this album and comes up many of their best songs in the process.
Buy “Autumn Sweater”
84. JANE’S ADDICTION- RITUAL DE LO HABITUAL (1990)
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A precursor of Nirvana and the Seattle grunge movement which would dominate the rock landscape for the ensuing three years, this was Jane’s breakthrough into the mainstream after the underground success of the brilliant “Nothing’s Shocking”. While “Ritual” is more self-indulgent then the former album, it also contains some of their best songs including the sprawling, beautiful (and also self-indulgent) epic “Three Days”.
83. THE ROOTS- THINGS FALL APART (1999)
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Philadelphia’s greatest rap-jam band truly come into their own on “Things Fall Apart”, paving the way (along with Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Jurassic 5) for conscious rap’s 2nd wave- taking the mantle from the Native Tongues (Tribe, De La, Jungle Bros, Black Sheep) of the early-mid 90’s. This is one of the few long rap albums that truly deserve its length. The Roots have the diversity and the dexterity to keep things interesting the whole time.
Buy “You Got Me (Feat. Erykah Badu)”
82. SLEATER-KINNEY- CALL THE DOCTOR (1996)
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The girls from Olympia, WA release their first great one, along the way to establishing themselves as one of the most consistently great band (along with Radiohead and Wilco) on the late 90’s/early 00’s. The vocal & guitar interplay between Carrie Brownstein and Corinne Tucker is pure magic. You won’t find any bass here!
Buy “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone”
81. STEREOLAB- EMPEROR TOMATO KETCHUP (1996)
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The French/British self claimed space-age bachelor music playing band delivers both their best and most mainstream album to date- if you can possibly make a claim that a band combining exotica, avant-garde, kraut rock, space-rock, bossa-nova & lounge music with socialist lyrics could be anywhere near the mainstream.