After the Speedy Ortiz show last week, we felt like we’d been teleported back to 1994 – a year where the word ‘alternative’ lost all definition. That night, Sadie Dupuis channelled her Pavement-indebted musings after Happyness and High Tide 15:47 had brought their own 90s influenced blueprints to The Cluny, and directly inspired this week’s #TopTenSunday. Here’s a look at some of the most influential, boundary pushing, and just downright brilliant records that happened to drop 20 years ago. Happy Anniversary to these 10 corkers!
10. Toadies – Rubberneck
Emerging from Fort Worth, Texas, with a disheveled amalgam of not quite punk, not quite grunge and not quite metal, Toadies’ debut LP typified the year that the word alternative began to lose any kind of definition.
9. King’s X – Dogman
One of the most underrated bands of the 90s. Dogman is the Missouri-trio’s 5th LP, and it housed a much heavier blueprint than their previous works. Progressive metal riffs, lusty grooves and outrageously soulful vocals made for a poignant composite.
8. Beck – Mellow Gold
Mellow Gold announced Beck as a mercurial talent who, 20 years later, has a collection of innovative, genre-hopping, style-meshing LPs under his belt. It arrived comprised of screwed ballads, sludge-punk and off-centre raps for a generation who knew hip-hop to be their folk music.
7. Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary
SDRE’s debut is considered as one of the pioneering factors in establishing ‘emo’ as a genre, but the composition of Diary is far more impressive than what is coined emo today. Dave Grohl recruited two SDRE members to play in a band a year later, but their name escapes me…
6. Weezer – Weezer
‘The Blue Album’ was the first of three self-titled albums from Weezer, and one of the most highly regarded debuts of all time. From the loud-quiet-loud chug of My Name Is Jonas and the jangly punch of Say It Ain’t So, Weezer conveyed a cute geekiness. Refreshing, in the gloom-ridden world of 90s alternative rock…
5. Alice in Chains – Jar of Flies EP
The first EP ever to top the Billboard 200 typified everything good about Alice in Chains. It’s as beautiful as it is malignant, and as gorgeous as it is dark, remaining understated without the use of the usual massive amps. Staley and Cantrell’s vocal harmonies glide along the lower-key grooves in exquisite fashion.
4. Nirvana – MTV Unplugged in New York
Kurt Cobain arranged an MTV Unplugged show like no one else had before him. The prospect of recording an entirely acoustic show made him nervous, but the frankness of a show devoid of many of the band’s most recognized hits resulted in a delicate display of just how intimate the other side of grunge could be.
3. Jeff Buckley – Grace
Here’s Jeff making an appearance in yet another Top Ten Sunday. The mysterious circumstances surrounding his death meant that his only studio LP was always likely to become a cult favourite, but its expressive ability and beauty is testimony to one of the most wildly talented artists of a generation.
2. Soundgarden – Superunknown
Superunknown is another record that operated outside the usual, conventional spheres of 90s alternative rock, and in 70-minutes of hard rock alchemy, a nebulous amalgam stemmed from the band’s metal foundations to fulfil skyscraping ambitions. Widely considered as Soundgarden’s masterpiece.
1. Green Day – Dookie
This week’s #1 is a record that proved to be one of the landmark albums of the 90s. Dookie is less than 40 minutes of modern punk that many bands tried to emulate, and to this day nobody has bettered. Punk morphs into pop by means of catchy, high-powered tracks, simple arrangements, and, to a young adult, thoroughly relatable issues. Superb.