1) Jane's Addiction
- Ritual de lo Habitual
"Ritual de lo Habitual served as Jane's Addiction's breakthrough to the mainstream in 1990 (going gold and reaching the Top 20), and remains one of rock's all-time sprawling masterpieces. While its predecessor, 1988's Nothing's Shocking, served as a fine introduction to the group, Ritual de lo Habitual proved to be even more daring; few (if any) alt-rock bands have composed a pair of epics that totaled nearly 20 minutes, let alone put them back to back for full dramatic effect. While the cheerful ditty "Been Caught Stealing" is the album's best-known track, the opening "Stop!" is one of the band's best hard rock numbers, propelled by guitarist Dave Navarro's repetitive, trashy funk riff, while "Ain't No Right" remains explosive in its defiant and vicious nature. Jane's Addiction always had a knack for penning beautiful ballads with a ghostly edge, again proven by the album closer, "Classic Girl." But it's the aforementioned epics that are the album's cornerstone: "Three Days" and "Then She Did...." Although Perry Farrell has never truly admitted what the two songs are about lyrically, they appear to be about an autobiographical romantic tryst between three lovers, as each composition twists and turns musically through every imaginable mood. And while the tracks "No One's Leaving," "Obvious," and "Of Course" may not be as renowned as other selections, they prove integral in the makeup of the album. Surprisingly, the band decided to call it a day just as Ritual de lo Habitual hit big, headlining the inaugural Lollapalooza tour (the brainchild of Farrell) in the summer of 1991 as their final road jaunt. Years later, it remains one of alt-rock's finest moments." Greg Prato, Allmusic
2) Cocteau Twins
- Heaven or Las Vegas
The sheer power of this album stems from its complicated arrangements, its fuzzy sound, and the magnificently doozy sound of Elizabeth Fraser's voice. In almost every dream pop/shoegaze band, especially My Bloody Valentine, the influence of the Twins can be heard. Even male artists try to sound like Liz Fraser (think Sigur Ros). And alongside the influence is great songs - from the opener "Cherry-Coloured Funk" all the way to the glorious "Frou-Frou Foxes In Midsummer Fires", the Twins captivate you, and it's difficult to peel away.
3) Depeche Mode
Synths are probably an acquired taste - there are few synth albums(excepting Kraftwerk) which I find easy to listen to. Conventional wisdom says that synths are cold, inhuman - but Violator smashes that idea up and leaves it in the corner. From the very first song to the last, the album demands your attention and you can't help but give it. Goodies are abound - from Sweetest Perfection which hauntingly tells the tale of a drug addiction, to Enjoy The Silence to the most well known "Personal Jesus", which is as perfect as perfect gets.
- Frigid Stars
A pioneering album in the sadcore genre, it sounds like 1990's version of Slint's masterpiece Spiderland. Perhaps more sad, less enthralling, but it still has a great sound. Take for example "Cigarette Machine" - the crunch of the guitars clash duel beautifully with the heavy drums, with the cold vocals of Stephen Immerwahr providing a chilling, haunting layer on top. "Not even star-crossed, just unlucky".
It provided a revelatory first listen, with Teresa Salgueiro's vocals being utterly enchanting, taking you into another world that every other album in this list simply can't. It's the simplicity of the music that makes it beautiful - often it's just an accordion and her voice. I have no idea what she says but man, it makes me feel like few others.
7) The Black Crowes
- Shake Your Money Maker
With touches of Led Zeppelin and most of all Exile-era Stones, this is an album of pure American rock 'n' roll. With muscular guitars propped up by smart songwriting and hooky choruses, it's difficult to not find the songs catchy. It goes further though, and it really rewards repeated listening.
8) Sonic Youth
The album doesn't quite keep up with its cover art, but that's pretty difficult. It's odd to think that this spawned SY's biggest hit with "Kool Thing", with Kim Gordon's hardly radio friendly vocals - "I mean, are you gonna liberate us girls from male white corporate oppression?", she says, while Chuck D of Public Enemy fame provides some awesome backup. It's the longer songs that contain the SY magic though, especially Tunic (Song For Karen) - a song written in response to the death of Karen Carpenter.
9) Yo La Tengo
- Rust In Peace
12) Pet Shop Boys
An average Pixies album, but a good album nonetheless. From the intro of the first two songs to the delightful love song of Velouria all the way to the peak of the album with The Happening, Pixies stick with tradition and take you on a careering journey. Again the understated part of the Pixies are their lyrics - take The Happening for example. That said, for me it's just too Frank Blacky, and it doesn't seem like a Pixies
album to me. What I loved about Doolittle is the input of Santiago, Lovering and Deal - with Bossanova, it's just too Black-centric, and it suffers. It's less fun, less powerful and less emotive.
- World Clique
Off the power of Groove is in the Heart, the album would be considered amazing. As a single, it's a revelatory listen, providing so many funk/house/modern dance chippets that groove really does enter your heart. It's difficult for the rest of the album to keep up with such a high, and it suffers as a result. It's simply not compelling enough, despite Lady Miss Kier's brilliant vocals.