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12. Joan Jett - Pure and Simple
After her two most commercial albums failed to break big Joan Jett rode the alternative wave into the nineties, enlisting the help of some Riot Grrrls along the way but the thing is, she still included some very catchy material on Pure and Simple, my personal favorites being a bouncy pop punk number called "Eye To Eye" and an excellent ballad co-written by Desmond Child called "As I Am."
11. Kyuss - Welcome To Sky Valley
I was a huge fan of Kyuss' second album Blues For The Red Sun and was not disappointed at all by the excellent follow-up, Welcome To Sky Valley, which was basically presented as one long piece of music. I was lucky enough to see them live on this tour with about 40 other people, although I'm sure many more people now claim they were there. Check out my favorite moments from the record, "Supa Scoop and Mighty Scoop" and "Odyssey."
10. Velvet Crush -Teenage Symphonies To God
This was the second album by these Rhode island via Chicago power poppers. Velvet Crush formed in 1989 and their first album, In The Presence of Greatness, came out in 1991. Teenage Symphonies To God (a phrase Beach Boy Brian Wilson used to describe the songs he was writing in the late sixties) features great seventies-inspired rock like opener "Hold Me Up" and excellent pop nuggets like the gently lilting "Time Wraps Around You."
9. The Greenberry Woods - Rapple Dapple
More power pop from this Maryland band helmed by twin brothers Matt and Brandt Huseman who went on to make more great music with their next band, Splitsville. The Greenberry Woods released two albums on Sire records, Rapple Dapple being the first. Check out soaring opening number "Trampoline" and infectious pop nugget "I'll Send A Message."
Hybrid Children was formed in Finland in 1991 by singer guitarist Jasse Salonen. The band's first album Bleed Baby Bleed came out in 1993 and went to number 13 on the Finnish charts but it wasn't until the band's second album, Honeymoon In Babylon, was released in May of 1994 that the band really found themselves and their sound, an infectious mix of thrash metal and pop punk. Check out the killer track "We Were All Born Naked" and then my favorite song on the record, an insanely catchy version of poppy thrash called "I'm All Yours."
7. Samiam - Clumsy
Samiam were a gutsy pop punk band out of Berkeley, California. They released three albums on indie label New Red Archives before signing with Atlantic for their fourth record, a lost classic that went straight to the cut-out bin called Clumsy. The very emotional album opens strong with "As We're Told" and never lets up. Also check out "Bad Day."
6. Supersuckers - La Mano Cornuda
The Supersuckers' Sub Pop debut The Smoke of Hell was a pop punk juggernaut, one of those 30 minutes or less albums. They lessened the tempo slightly for their next outing and impressed even those who hadn't seen the potential in the debut. Opening track "Creepy Jackalope Eye" is a lost classic of the nineties and they also made a video for the poppy as hell "On The Couch."
5. Lee Harvey Oswald Band - A Taste of Prison
This mysterious, oddball band fronted by a quasi-transvestite called Zowie Fenderblast put out one of the funnest, strangest rock albums of the nineties. You just have to hear it. Check out "Tinglers" and the awesome "Jesus Never Lived On Mars."
4. Cheap Trick - Woke Up With a Monster
Cheap Trick parted ways (less than amicably) with Epic Records in the early nineties, signed with Warner Bros, partnered with in-house producer Ted Templeman (of Van Halen fame) and made what was supposed to be their comeback album. Unfortunately, even though the record was great, very few people noticed and it turned out to be the only album they'd make for Warners. Ditching the logo was unwise and the cover art is unfortunate but it's a great record, check out the killer opening track "My Gang" and the shoulda been a hit "You're All I Wanna Do."
3. Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand
Ever heard of lo-fi? Ohio's Guided By Voices became an underground phenomenon in 1994 when St. Louis indie label Scat Records released this masterpiece of an album which was cobbled together from cassettes the band had recorded with a 4-track in elementary school teacher and band leader Robert Pollard's house. For many people who heard it in 1994 Bee Thousand was an epiphany, it changed lives. Perhaps hearing songs like "Echos Myron" and "Gold Star For Robot Boy" will help you understand why.
2. Built To Spill - There's Nothing Wrong With Love
I know Decibel Geek listeners are mostly into hard rock and metal but I can't make a list of albums from 1994 without including this wonderful collection of indie rock. Built to Spill signed with a major after this and went in a different direction but for a moment in time in 1994 Doug Martsch was making shameless pop music, and I loved it. Stunning single "Car" is a masterpiece of songwriting and production and it doesn't get more infectious than "Big Dipper."
1. Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary
Ever heard of emo? We are now somehow twenty years removed from this album's release and holy shit that word comes with some baggage these days. That term (emo) has been bastardized perhaps even more than "metal" or "punk" but it all pretty much started right here with this one of a kind testament to individuality and creativity, a stunning album called Diary by a little band from Portland, Oregon called Sunny Day Real Estate. This was one of those records that changed music, there is clearly a before and an after Diary. You know how they say not many people heard The Velvet Underground but most of those that did started a band? Diary was that kind of a record. It spawned a genre. The band broke up before their second album (and what a record!) even came out but they'd already made more of a mark than any ambitious band could ever hope to make. Dave Grohl immediately scooped up the defunct band's rhythm section for his new project Foo Fighters. I saw that incarnation of the band live in May of 1995 when they opened for Mike Watt and was very impressed. But back to Sunny Day, be sure to listen to "47" and "The Blankets Were The Stairs" all the way through, they end strong!