Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes (1983)

Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes (1983)

This is one of those quirky, dry, self-conscious alternative rock albums that give me a reason to appreciate that the 1980s happened. It’s weird and, to some, unpalatable – but it’s also catchy at the same time. That’s a hard thing to pull off unless you’re the Pixies or maybe early 70s Brian Eno. My choice cut here does a great job explaining the feel of the album as a whole.

Now a non-sequitur: imagine my surprise when I found out Gone Daddy Gone from the first album we ever reviewed was a cover from this album.

Choice Cut: Blister in the Sun

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You’re Living All Over Me – Dinosaur Jr (1987)

You're Living All Over Me - Dinosaur Jr (1987)

Suggested by Denis Fitzpatrick, one of our Twitter followers, Dinosaur Jr. is a really good example of college rock. It’s also a good example of how to make hard-hitting rock…or good music, in general. It’s more than just simple bludgeoning riffs, because it also thwarting rock tropes and expectations. The vocal delivery is uncannily similar to Morrisey of the Smiths, which is a compliment because its fun to think about the Smiths taking a sludgy turn. It sounds fresh enough to avoid becoming a fossil and classic enough to avoid going extinct.

Choice Cut: Sludgefeast
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Surfer Rosa – Pixies (1988)

Surfer Rosa - Pixies (1988)
Note: We used the SFW album art. The real NSFW deal can be found here.

How did we get to week 10 without talking about the Pixies? This is easily one of the bands I can gush about, and Surfer Rosa and Doolittle would be the main objects of my overabundant (but sincere) praise. The Pixies combine jagged, dramatic guitar riffs with lyrics about mythology and religion. Black Francis desperately yells his lines to the mic and this somehow mixes melodically with Kim Deal’s smooth back-up vocals. It’s a great dynamic. Amazingly, the Pixies are still relatively distant from common knowledge despite inspiring Kurt Cobain and, by proxy, much of music from then on.

Choice Cut: River Euphrates
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The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989)

The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989)

Like Primal Scream, the Stone Roses were important players in the British rave scene. This is the sort of psychedelic proto-indie rock that is meant to fill a room and reverberate off the walls. This album combines the epic sense of space found in modern trance music with cool guitar riffs and airy Psychocandy-like vocals. The opening four tracks, no matter how many times I listen to them, still have the ability to give me goosebumps on a 95 degree day. This album helped bridge the gap as rock slowly turned into electronic music – no small achievement.

Choice Cut: I Wanna Be Adored
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Psychocandy – Jesus and Mary Chain (1985)

Psychocandy – Jesus and Mary Chain (1985)

Is distortion an instrument? These guys say yes. A fair warning to all potential listeners: this is a tough album to sit through, even more so than Tobacco. Do not let this discourage you. There are moments of intense beauty on this album, coming from ghost-like vocals floating above the harsh, yet melodic wall-to-wall feedback. There’s a primal, satisfying je ne sais quoi in the music. It’s something like how babies can fall asleep to the sound of a vacuum cleaner, which this album kind of sounds like. The loud parts rock so hard and the quiet parts are beautiful.

Choice CutJust Like Honey
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