Best Album from the Alternative Nation 1992-1995

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The wait is over. At long last, this poll will determine the best album of the mid-'90s mainstream alternative rock boom.

Rationale for my picks:

  • released between the years 1992 and 1995
  • featured a track (or two, or ten) that got at least a moderate amount of play on alt-rock radio in the US and/or MTV's late-night alternative music programming
  • holds up surprisingly-well after the passage of a couple decades
  • meets a set of nebulous criteria that resides solely in my brain and defies explanation and exists mostly to induce exasperation with respect to my obvious oversights and preposterous inclusions
Rest assured, many scientific methods were employed to ensure that the final ballot was watertight and unimpeachable. This is the definitive list of the era's best MOR modern rock albums, without question or doubt. Feel free to quibble, but know that in quibbling you're quibbling with unmitigated truth.

Poll Results

OptionVotes
Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain 10
Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville 10
REM - Automatic for the People 10
Bjork - Post 8
PJ Harvey - Rid of Me 6
Nirvana - In Utero 6
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream 6
Beastie Boys - Check Your Head 6
Sonic Youth - Dirty 6
Lush - Spooky 4
Soundgarden - Superunknown 4
Faith No More - Angel Dust 4
Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness 3
Oasis - Definitely Maybe 3
Hole - Live Through This 3
Breeders - Last Splash 3
PJ Harvey - To Bring You My Love 3
Beck - Mellow Gold 2
Flaming Lips - Transmissions from the Satellite Heart 2
Hum - You'd Prefer an Astronaut 1
Sonic Youth - Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star 1
Tori Amos - Boys for Pele 1
Veruca Salt - American Thighs 1
Blind Melon - Soup 1
Ween - Pure Guava 1
Sundays - Blind 1
Toadies - Rubberneck 1
Pearl Jam - Vitalogy 1
v/a - If I Were a Carpenter 0
Stone Temple Pilots - Purple 0
Liz Phair - Whip-Smart 0
Alice in Chains - Jar of Flies 0
Luscious Jackson - Natural Ingredients 0
Juliana Hatfield - Only Everything 0
Foo Fighters - s/t 0
v/a - Kids ost 0


Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 13:11 (one month ago) link

surely Belly's Star qualified? And it went gold.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 13:13 (one month ago) link

Voted REM, just ahead of the Beastie Boys and Nirvana.

A lot of the albums on that list are rather dull, to be honest.

does it look like i'm here (jon123), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 13:31 (one month ago) link

xpost It was bubbling just under the surface, for sure. I'd say it might've been an accidental omission, but I crunched a lot of data in putting this together, so I just have to trust the science whatever my gut might say to the contrary.

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 13:32 (one month ago) link

Just so we're clear, this isn't a list of the best albums from this era (although some of these albums would be on that list). This is a list of the best albums whose song titles at some point emerged from the mouth of Matt Pinfield or Kennedy or your local edge station DJ.

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 13:38 (one month ago) link

In utero, with Rid of Me a close second.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 16 July 2019 13:46 (one month ago) link

Guyville or Post, I'm thinking. I shall sleep on it!

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Tuesday, 16 July 2019 13:53 (one month ago) link

i have to listen to that luscious jackson album again, i loved it at the time but had somehow totally forgotten about it. it was so groovy, energetic, powerful and vibrant. i voted for dirty just ahead of automatic for the people.

je est un autre, l'enfer c'est les autres (alex in mainhattan), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 13:54 (one month ago) link

So many great records here. I'm going with Superunknown closely over Automatic and Exile in Guyville.

kornrulez6969, Tuesday, 16 July 2019 13:56 (one month ago) link

Toadies but no Nine Inch nails?

Chris L, Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:02 (one month ago) link

This list seems to have a lot of second best albums by some core bands and misses some other bands entirely.

Wound up voting Beasties.

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:03 (one month ago) link

(scans checklist) Let's see...Dirt, Washing Machine...ah, there it is, The Downward Spiral (ticks box)

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:07 (one month ago) link

My thing is, while it isn't a bad album and otherwise fits most of the poll criteria...I don't really find myself wanting to listen to The Downward Spiral these days. Like ever. Some of that stuff just feels like a bad depresso teenage hangover to me when I hear it now.

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:14 (one month ago) link

crooked rain doesn't really seem popular enough, but it's either that one or guyville (which is also maybe not popular enough? idk i was 3 when it came out)

mott the hoopleheads (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:17 (one month ago) link

'Cut Your Hair' was in heavy rotation on 120 Minutes/Alternative Nation, 'Range Life' and 'Never Said' slightly less so.

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:19 (one month ago) link

.I don't really find myself wanting to listen to The Downward Spiral these days. Like ever. Some of that stuff just feels like a bad depresso teenage hangover to me when I hear it now.
otm. i was quite crazy for that album when it came out but after the initial enthusiasm which lasted a couple of moths i don't think i ever listened to it again. it is definitely music which does not brighten my mood. these days i am not so crazy for that kind of music anymore...

je est un autre, l'enfer c'est les autres (alex in mainhattan), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:22 (one month ago) link

(I think the video for 'Gold Soundz' got some play, too, but I don't think I personally remember seeing it on MTV.)

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:23 (one month ago) link

xpost Yeah, I mean, I could've included like Dirt and Psalm 69 because they're fine albums but they just kinda bum me the fuck out these days.

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:24 (one month ago) link

They bummed me the fuck out back in the day, too, but I'm slightly less masochistic these days.

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:25 (one month ago) link

Guyville, and maybe Crooked Rain, don't seem like they belong in this crowd

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:25 (one month ago) link

I can understand the qualms with Guyville (I frankly snuck it in on a technicality, as she didn't really get much traction on MTV until 'Supernova') but I know I saw the 'Cut Your Hair' video dozens of times.

FWIW, given my geographical isolation during much of the timeframe covered by this poll, MTV and radio play is the only way I discovered music, so I can confirm that nothing in the list is that obscure.

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:37 (one month ago) link

this might be the most difficult poll i've ever encountered on this site.

blue light or electric light (the table is the table), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:40 (one month ago) link

Was tempted to vote for Foos or Veruca bc I have a lot of affection for them and I doubt they’ll get much support.

Kind of tired of voting for Nirvana, REM, PJ for things so I ended up picking Hole

Evans on Hammond (evol j), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:43 (one month ago) link

I was just glancing through to see what, specifically, I omitted by perversely starting with 1992 instead of 1991 and...holy cow, how did I never before realize that Nevermind and Badmotorfinger and (well...) Blood Sugar Sex Magik were all released on the exact same day (see also: The Low End Theory)?!?

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:53 (one month ago) link

If the Hole album was "Celebrity Skin" it would be an easy choice, but . . . Exile? Or Automatic? Dirty?

Also I know it won't be a top contender but that Luscious Jackson album remains an extremely pleasurable listen. "Citysong" is so great.

Blind Melon - Soup

plenty of records i love on this list but i might vote for this one bc no one else will

american bradass (BradNelson), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 15:22 (one month ago) link

it is way better than the s/t

american bradass (BradNelson), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 15:22 (one month ago) link

For sure. Also one of those albums where, y'know, good luck getting anyone who only knows them for 'No Rain' to even consider giving it a shot.

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 15:26 (one month ago) link

(That one was also kind of a cheat, I guess, since 'Galaxie' didn't exactly set the world on fire.)

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 15:26 (one month ago) link

feel like Ill Communication would be a better pick here than Check Your head though obviously CYH also owns.

omar little, Tuesday, 16 July 2019 15:51 (one month ago) link

I haven’t listened to any of these in ages. Looking back over the list the one I’d be most tempted to pull off the shelf for a listen is probably Pure Guava, strangely enough. I’m sure it’s not the best on this list though.

o. nate, Tuesday, 16 July 2019 16:19 (one month ago) link

I like a lot of these albums a lot. I never expected to see a poll where I'd have to choose between Pure Guava and You'd Prefer An Astronaut, and that is a very difficult choice for me.

billstevejim, Tuesday, 16 July 2019 20:35 (one month ago) link

Pure Guava is one of these where chunks of its sequencing often plays in my head subconsciously. Don't you just love those?

billstevejim, Tuesday, 16 July 2019 20:38 (one month ago) link

Oasis looks completely out of place in this list.

Siegbran, Tuesday, 16 July 2019 20:59 (one month ago) link

Oasis looks completely out of place in this list.

Siegbran, Tuesday, 16 July 2019 20:59 (one month ago) link

Siamese Dream vs In Utero for me

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 21:51 (one month ago) link

the fact that Pure Guava was Ween's "Major Label" album will always be funny to me. its such a dopey little album - I never really parsed what a lot of the actual songs were until I heard the live versions. still, "Little Birdy" will always be one of the all-time great album openers, that guitar tone is wild

frogbs, Tuesday, 16 July 2019 21:55 (one month ago) link

Blind Melon - Soup

plenty of records i love on this list but i might vote for this one bc no one else will

I uh actually almost voted for this for the same reason (but ended up going with Guyville)

think the toledo mud hens but for twitter (Drugs A. Money), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 22:08 (one month ago) link

If this included Gala instead of Spooky, my vote would be obvious

Leaning Bjork but To Bring You My Love is beckoning

brigadier pudding (DJP), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 22:12 (one month ago) link

Rid of Me, or In Utero, or Live through This.

akm, Tuesday, 16 July 2019 22:17 (one month ago) link

spooky

brimstead, Tuesday, 16 July 2019 23:01 (one month ago) link

the Guthrie production never bothered me, in fact, it rules imo

brimstead, Tuesday, 16 July 2019 23:02 (one month ago) link

I feel like the production made a lot of the songs feel inconsequential and bland. (Not so much so that I dislike the album but definitely enough that I didn't like it as much as I wanted to.)

brigadier pudding (DJP), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 23:05 (one month ago) link

Turns out a 10-year break was all I needed to laugh my ass off at the stupid shit on Pure Guava again.

o. nate, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 01:46 (one month ago) link

I might go for Soup, too. I love the interplay of the guitars and I think Shannon Hoon was an underrated (if sentimental) lyricist.

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 14:36 (one month ago) link

Another opportunity for me to point out the stunning similarity between Shannon Hoon's and Micky Dolenz's singing voices.

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 15:08 (one month ago) link

Hoon and Karen Dalton too!

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 15:11 (one month ago) link

Why Jar of Flies over Dirt? The former too heavy?

chap, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 15:55 (one month ago) link

Anyway it's Faith No More vs Bjork.

chap, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 15:56 (one month ago) link

xpost I mentioned it upthread. Dirt is bad vibes city. I can appreciate it for what it is but I can't really listen to it these days. Whereas Jar of Flies is improbably gorgeous and almost perfect and still in fairly regular rotation for me.

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 16:07 (one month ago) link

Post

Pauline Male (Eric H.), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 16:09 (one month ago) link

Siamese Dream wins by a nose, Hole / FNM / Nirvana tie for 2nd place. 1992-1995 era me would have complained about the lack of RATM, RCHP and Weezer on this list tbh.

help yourself to another slice of apple ... crumble (Willl), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 16:12 (one month ago) link

It is, perhaps, telling that 2019 era you isn't making too big a stink about their omission. I could never really get into any of those dudes.

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 16:16 (one month ago) link

Nowadays when I hear RATM I can't help but picture de la Rocha marching offstage after a heavy 'FUCK YOU I WON'T DO WHATCHA TELL ME' sesh and walking up to an Epic exec and being all
https://media0.giphy.com/media/dpqQNluWFaSpq/giphy.gif

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 16:21 (one month ago) link

Nice to see a few fond memories of the Luscious Jackson album, that might actually be my pick. Or Bjork, but I'm feeling like neither of those quite fit in with the popularity level of Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Pumpkins et al.

confusementalism (Dan Peterson), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 16:58 (one month ago) link

Maybe not Luscious Jackson so much (or not the first album, anyway), but if nothing else I feel like the video for 'I Miss You' got a lot of MTV play even outside of the alterna-ghetto.

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 17:08 (one month ago) link

I remember going to a party in college before RATM had really blown up. I can’t remember if I had heard the album or a few songs before, but I was super high and someone put the debut on super loud and Bombtrack came on and sounded immense and everyone was losing their minds.

Voted Superunknown over Crooked Rain.

Mazzy Tsar (PBKR), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 18:09 (one month ago) link

Voted Siamese Dream. Not my favorite album on this list, but when I close my eyes and conjure up Alternative Nation on MTV (and esp Buzz Bin commercials), that "Today" ice cream truck driving through the desert pops into my head more vividly than any other image.

Lavator Shemmelpennick, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 20:22 (one month ago) link

it's Mellon Collie, the only Gen X magnum opus. 2 hours long, 28 songs, all of them great. would vote for it based on the lyrics alone. many great records here, but nothing is even in the same universe as Mellon Collie.

flappy bird, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 20:38 (one month ago) link

based on the lyrics alone

"Who wants honey / Long as there's some money"?

C'mon, flaps... ;P

stan by me (morrisp), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 20:43 (one month ago) link

that's on Siamese Dream

flappy bird, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 20:43 (one month ago) link

and yeah it is a shit lyric in an otherwise perfect song

flappy bird, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 20:44 (one month ago) link

I have watched this in full at least 20 times

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U7QGPz4xmA

flappy bird, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 20:45 (one month ago) link

Haha, my bad

stan by me (morrisp), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 20:45 (one month ago) link

(I had my wires crossed w/the 1993 thread)

stan by me (morrisp), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 20:46 (one month ago) link

(flaps tho, I have to raise you -- "...I'm still just a rat in a cage"!)

stan by me (morrisp), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 20:47 (one month ago) link

that one is better than honey/money and I think works in the context of the song, which is as reflexive and self aware and it is big, loud, and silly.

flappy bird, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 20:51 (one month ago) link

as it is*

flappy bird, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 20:52 (one month ago) link

besides, "the world is a vampire" is one of the all time best opening lines to a song or anything ever

flappy bird, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 20:52 (one month ago) link

at the time, all I could think when watching the video was "despite all my rage / my head still looks like an egg"

bendy, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 20:54 (one month ago) link

at the time it would have been an extremely tough call between Check Your Head and Siamese Dream, but honestly can't listen to Corgan's bullshit any more even the "classic" stuff.

now it's basically 3-way tie for me between CYH/ CRCR/ Mellow Gold, and those just edging out Transmissions.

i guess since CYH makes it both times i should give it the vote,,,

A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Chooglin (will), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 21:05 (one month ago) link

'Bullet With Butterfly Wings' often reminds me of the Grand Royal interview with Weird Al where a pre-fame Spike Jonez (posing as a random fan) interrupts to present a baffled Al with the golden lyric 'despite my old age/I am still making minimum wage'.

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 21:46 (one month ago) link

four weeks pass...

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Wednesday, 14 August 2019 00:01 (one week ago) link

so what’cha want is all time and I want to live inside that video with the song on infinite loop.

epistantophus, Wednesday, 14 August 2019 00:43 (one week ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Thursday, 15 August 2019 00:01 (one week ago) link

That seems about right.

doctor johnson (askance johnson), Thursday, 15 August 2019 01:11 (one week ago) link

Yeah, v solid results.

60... 90... 120 Minute IPA (morrisp), Thursday, 15 August 2019 03:33 (one week ago) link


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