Top 10 Alternative Rock Albums

5. Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation (Enigma Records, 1988)

Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation

Released in October 1988, Daydream Nation is the fifth studio album by American alternative rock band Sonic Youth. Recorded in the summer of 1988, in New York City at Greene St. Recording, Daydream Nation was not a commercial success, the album did not chart in the US and it only reached No. 99 in the UK. However the LP was met with great critical acclaim, many considering it a major influence on the alternative and indie rock scenes. Daydream Nation was Sonic Youth’s last album before signing to a major record label. The album, which produced three singles, ”Teen Age Riot”, ”Providence”, and ”Silver Rocket”, was chosen in 2005, by the Library Of Congress to be preserved in the National Recording Registry. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called Daydream Nation ”a masterpiece of post punk art rock”, while Jon Matsumoto of the LA Times called the album the band’s masterpiece.

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4. Radiohead – OK Computer (Capitol Records, 1997)

Radiohead - Ok Computer

Released in May 1997, OK Computer is the third studio album by English alternative rock band Radiohead. OK Computer received widespread critical acclaim, often being named as one of the greatest albums of the ’90s.  The album which produced five singles: ”Paranoid Android”, ”Karma Police”, ”Lucky”, ”No Surprises” and ”Airbag”, reached No. 1 in the UK album charts, and was Radiohead’s highest entry in the US album charts at the time, No. 21 on the Billboard 200. With OK Computer Radiohead approached a more melancholic and atmospheric style of alternative rock. Mojo magazine called the album ”the key record of 1997, the one to take rock forward instead of artfully revamping images and song-structures from an earlier era” while Alex Ross of The New Yorker wrote that ”Throught the album contrasts of mood and style are extreme… This band has pulled off one of the great art-pop balancing acts in the history of rock.”

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3. Nirvana – Nevermind (DGC Records, 1991)

Nirvana - Nevermind

Released in September 1991, Nevermind is the second studio album by the American rock band Nirvana. Propelled by the huge success of the first single release, ”Smells Like Teen Spirit”, Nevermind became a massive success on its own, reaching the No. 1 position on the Billboard 200, in January 1992. The album, from which three other singles were released, ”Come As You Are”, ”Lithium” and ”In Bloom”, was certified diamond by the RIAA, and has sold over 24 million copies worldwide. Kurt Cobain described the sound on Nevermind as ”The Knack and Bay City Rollers getting molested by Black Flag and Black Sabbath.” The album, produced by Butch Vig, was the first to feature drummer Dave Grohl. Nevermind is responsabile for bringing the Seattle grunge movement and alternative rock as a whole into the mainstream. Rolling Stone magazine, which placed Nevermind on No. 17 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time said ”No album in recent history had such an overpowering impact on a generation – a nation of teens suddenly turned punk – and such a catastrophic effect on its main creator.”

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2. The Replacements – Let It Be (Twin/Tone Records, 1984)

The Replacements - Let It Be

Released in October 1984, Let It Be is the third studio album by American rock band The Replacements. Considered to have pioneered alternative rock, Let It Be is a post-punk album with themes of self-consciousness and rejection as felt by youths and the difficulties of a young person’s transition from being a child to being an adult. Today Let It Be is a considered a classic with Rolling Stone magazine calling it ”a brilliant rock & roll album” and placing it on No. 241 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time. Writing for The Village Voice Robert Christgau said ”the band has matured by incorporating melody in their music and felt that they succeed by writing about their likes and dislikes rather than adhering to garage rock principles.”

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1. Pixies – Doolittle (Elektra Records, 1989)

Pixies - Doolittle

Released in April 1989, Doolittle is the second studio album by the American alternative rock band Pixies. ”Here Comes Your Man” and ”Monkey Gone To Heaven” were the two singles released from Doolittle, both of which were successful, while the album itself reached No. 8 on the UK Charts, Doolittle being the band’s first international release. Despite its limited commercial success the album was a major influence on bands such as Nirvana, Radiohead, The Strokes, Bush, Blur, Weezer and the alternative rock scene in general. Doolittle features a wide array of musical styles, from fast and aggressive tracks to quieter more melodic ones. The songs feature themes of surrealism, Biblical violence, torture and death. In 1995 the album was certified Gold by the RIAA. Rolling Stone magazine placed Doolittle at No. 226 on its list of ”The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time”.

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  • Jay Nicoll

    No Pumpkins, STP or Weezer?