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1990s

The Records that Ruled the '90s.

Definitive Albums: Boards of Canada 'Music Has the Right to Children' (1998)
Boards of Canada's classic debut turned minimalist electronica into a ghostly séance for dead technologies.

Definitive Albums: Sigur Rós 'Ágætis Byrjun' (1999)
The Icelandic post-rockers came of age on their second album, a breakout set that introduced their symphonic grandeur to the globe.

Definitive Albums: Rachel's 'The Sea and the Bells' (1996)
A landmark post-rock LP, Rachel's seafaring suite haunting paints eerie seascapes doused in fog.

Definitive Albums: Primal Scream 'Screamadelica' (1991)
Mixing acid-house with gospel and psychedelia, Primal Scream created a landmark British album.

Definitive Albums: Afghan Whigs 'Gentlemen' (1993)
Imbuing grunge with soul music, wit, and narrative, Afghan Whigs authored a concept album that stood apart in its era.

Definitive Albums: Slowdive 'Souvlaki' (1993)
Though derided in their day by the UK music press, Slowdive's beautiful, boundless, oceanic music has risen in stature over time.

Definitive Albums: Mercury Rev 'Deserter's Songs' (1998)
It was one of the more unexpected reinventions of the '90s: noise merchants Mercury Rev cleaning up and courting orchestral grandeur.

Definitive Albums: Jim O'Rourke 'Eureka' (1999)
In which the experimental egghead fearlessly, quizzically, comically plunges into pure pop.

Definitive Albums: Mogwai 'Young Team' (1997)
If post-rock is about the simple transition from really quiet to extremely loud, 'Mogwai Young Team' captures that sound at its essence.

Definitive Albums: Codeine 'Frigid Stars' (1991)
Codeine's stark, solemn, snail's pace debut effectively forged the slowcore sound for a generation.

Definitive Albums: Pavement 'Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain' (1994)
'Slanted and Enchanted' is Pavement's feted classic, but isn't 'Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain' better?

Definitive Albums: The Olivia Tremor Control 'Dusk at Cubist Castle' (1996)
The OTC's rampantly-experimental psychedelic-pop fantasia is wondrous, ridiculous, and inspired.

Definitive Albums: Scott Walker 'Tilt' (1995)
The great, grey recluse returned from the wilderness with 1995's terrifying 'Tilt.'

Definitive Albums: Tindersticks 'Tindersticks' (1993)
Tindersticks' sprawling debut album showed the English orchestral-pop moodists as band bursting with ideas.

Definitive Albums: Eric's Trip 'Love Tara' (1993)
For all their grunge-era guitar fuzz, Eric's Trip were sweet, romantic, and gently melancholy.

Definitive Albums: Archers of Loaf 'Icky Mettle' (1993)
Archers of Loaf's anxious, urgent, noisy debut is a slab of classic indie-rock.

Definitive Albums: Silver Jews 'American Water' (1998)
David Berman's landmark album destroyed the persistent notion that The Joos were a minor Pavement side-project.

Definitive Albums: Sebadoh 'Bakesale' (1994)
A classic showcase for Lou Barlow's biting songwriting, which veers between sarcastic blasts of noise and bruised balladry.

Definitive Albums: The Breeders 'Pod' (1990)
Feeling frustrated with her role in The Pixies, Kim Deal lashed out with a classic alternative album all her own.

Definitive Albums: Red House Painters 'Down Colorful Hill' (1992)
Red House Painters Down Colorful Hill - Review of Red House Painters' Definitive Alternative Album Down Colorful Hill

Definitive Albums: Slint 'Spiderland' (1991)
Slint's legacy grew in a fashion that matched the music: slow, steady, barely perceptible, ultimately legendary.

Definitive Albums: Royal Trux 'Twin Infinitives' (1990)
Styling themselves on the Velvet Underground, Royal Trux were dopehead provocateurs out to radically recontextualize rock's tired form.

Definitive Albums: PJ Harvey 'Dry' (1992)
Polly Jean Harvey's scorching debut LP introduced the world to a shocking talent of melodic intent and poetic ambition.

Definitive Albums: Sparklehorse 'Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissi…
Mark Linkous's Sparklehorse debut displayed his penchant for creaky, atmospheric, lo-fi folk and dab hand at anthemic rock melodies.

Definitive Albums: Vic Chesnutt 'West of Rome' (1991)
On his second record, Chesnutt's cracked Americana opened up to reveal a dark heart.

Definitive Albums: Liz Phair 'Exile in Guyville' (1993)
Phair's frank tales of female desire and male shortcomings were, in their day, a provocative challenge to orthodoxy.

Definitive Albums: Cat Power 'Moon Pix' (1998)
Chan Marshall's spooked séance is a suite of songs sweated out in the middle of an Australian summer.

Definitive Albums: Built to Spill 'Perfect from Now On' (1997)
Perfect? Well, yeah, almost.

Definitive Albums: Stereolab 'Emperor Tomato Ketchup' (1996)
The groop played their best album ever.

Definitive Albums: Mazzy Star 'So Tonight That I Might See' (1993)
What was it that took this slowed-down, strung-out take on narcotic country to the ears of a million listeners?

Definitive Albums: Elliott Smith 'Either/Or' (1997)
Not merely some cry-for-help, 'Either/Or' is a near-perfect pop record.

Definitive Albums: Tortoise 'Millions Now Living Will Never Die' (1996)
Tortoise's sea-tide grooves and pointillist hand-percussion put the post-rock sub-genre on the map.

Definitive Albums: Lush 'Spooky' (1992)
Lush's shiny, sparkly, dewy debut went to town with the shoegaze sound.

Definitive Albums: Guided by Voices 'Bee Thousand' (1994)
Knocking out 30 songs in three days, GBV enshrined the lo-fi aesthetic on an ad-hoc 'album' afforded instant-classic status.

Definitive Albums: Belle and Sebastian 'If You're Feeling Sinister'
The Scottish pop outfit's second LP is one of the greatest records ever committed to disc.

Definitive Albums: My Bloody Valentine 'Loveless'
My Bloody Valentine's all-time-classic second album changed the way a whole generation of artists looked at the guitar.

Definitive Albums: Pavement 'Slanted and Enchanted'
The debut disc for the sultans of slack is, with two decade's worth of hindsight, an interesting proposition.

Definitive Albums: Spiritualized 'Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space'
J. Spaceman's towering landmark builds heartbroken symphonies mixing shoegaze with gospel, rock-n-roll swagger with bowed confessional.

Definitive Albums: Arthur Russell 'Another Thought'
Arthur Russell was too obsessive and fragmented to ever release a classic album. Yet, this posthumous compilation certainly fits the bill.

Definitive Albums: Palace Music 'Viva Last Blues'
Will Oldham's third Palace album is his masterwork; at turns urgent and volatile, reluctant and solemn, lovestruck and heartachinÂ’.

Definitive Albums: Neutral Milk Hotel 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea'
Neutral Milk Hotel main-man Jeff Mangum still hasn't been able to bring himself to attempt a successor to this slice of longplaying perfection.

Definitive Albums: Bikini Kill 'The CD Version of the First Two Recor…
Four words to start a revolution: "Suck! My! Left! One!"

Definitive Albums: Superchunk 'Foolish' (1994)
Playing the lovelorned ‘fool’ throughout, Mac McCaughan uses 'Foolish' for as much emotional bloodletting as exuberant pogo-ing.

Definitive Albums: Mudhoney 'Superfuzz Bigmuff Plus Early Sin…
Mudhoney's snarling debut single, 'Touch Me I'm Sick,' introduced the world to Sub Pop, to Seattle, to grunge.

Definitive Albums: The Magnetic Fields '69 Love Songs'
Stephin Merritt's ambitious, ridiculous triple-album turned the Magnetic Fields from cult obscurity to celebrated entity.

Definitive Albums: Sleater-Kinney 'Dig Me Out' (1997)
The crossover success of Sleater-Kinney's anthemic third album marked the end of riot-grrrl as self-contained, insular movement.

Definitive Albums: Chapterhouse 'Whirlpool' (1991)
For lovers of shoegaze, where to turn after My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive? Chapterhouse, my friends.

Definitive Albums: Talk Talk 'Laughing Stock' (1991)
Talk Talk's fifth album was their last, but it was easily their best; a moody, atmospheric work that proved hugely influential on the post-rock sound.

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